Conflict Resolution

A Day In The Life: Meet Online Counselor Terrie Browning, LPC

What does it take to build and maintain a private mental health practice? Terrie Browning, LPC, DCC, CFC was among the first to respond to my request for therapists to track their activities for a day to shed light on what it takes to be in private practice. Friday, the day she uses  for last minute crisis appointments, online counseling appointments, website meetings, phone consults, and runs errands, was the day she chose to track her activities. Terrie provides in person, and online counseling, in addition to providing court testimony as part of her private practice, Alternative Therapies. Terrie is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Forensic Consultant, Distance Credentialed Counselor, and holds a Masters Degree in Science of Psychology, with specialization in Counseling Psychology.

To learn more about Terrie's practice visit her website TerrieBrowning.com.

A Day In The Life

Novemember 18, 2011 Friday

7am-8am

Woke with my partner. Made coffee and tea and had a conversation about home, bills, tonight’s activities.

8:00-9:00AM

Started some laundry and checked emails for both my private practice and my website. Noted a return email from a potential new therapist for my live consultation website confirming our 11am phone consult. Email my accountant regarding chat system payouts and reporting options for experts.

9:00-9:15AM

Call from client, appointment for marriage counseling. Discuss options and insurance.

9:15-10:00AM

Answered emails to LinkedIn professionals offering a wide range of services, mostly media opportunities for the website (radio, press releases, etc.). Received an email from the editor at MyMetroYou magazine where I write a monthly column, My Healthy Mind. Deadline for January series was early this month, due Monday. Yikes, I haven’t even started it yet! January starts the first of a three part series on “What Makes Love Work”. I make a mental note to complete outline this afternoon.

10:00-10:30AM

Change beds and clean up house before leaving my phone consult.

10:45-11:00AM

Phone call from client whose husband had brain surgery. Anger issues and needed some assistance with conflict resolution.

11:00-11:45AM

Phone consult with expert from CA. A fellow therapist asking about ethical issues with online counseling. I share information I received during my Distance Credentialed Counselor certification I received last year from ReadyMinds in Chicago.

11:45AM-12:25PM

Consult with a close relative about difficult situation of living in a new place and trying to find employment and the stress it is taking on her relationship, feeling of loneliness, frustration and diminished self-worth.

12:25-1:00PM

Skype with my social networking company representing my website.

1:00-1:50PM

Online counseling with return client.

2:00-2:45PM

Work out at gym.

2:45-3:30PM

Meet attorney with whom I work with on alcohol evaluations. Get a call from client with need to come in for crisis appt. Agree to meet in 1/2hr.

4:00-4:45PM

Meet with client in the office.

4:45-5:30PM

Paperwork in office. Billing, faxing to alcohol testing lab for results, rehab for dates for clients alcohol evaluation. Phoned the parent of client admitted to emergency psychiatric ward with suicide attempt. Doing well. Whew, on my mind for last 24 hours. Talk about after care and outpatient services.

5:30-6:00PM

Return calls for appointments for following week. Phone consult with parent; minor child is going to court against his father for psychiatric evaluation and ending parenting time.

6:00-7:00PM

Return home to shower.

7:00-7:30PM

Talk with daughter who wants to transfer universities (her junior year).

7:30-9:30PM

Dinner with best friends for birthday celebration.

10:00-11:30PM

Return home and talk with partner, watch TV, go to bed.

Thank you Terrie, for letting us peek into a day in your life as a private practice therapist!

Multiple Income Streams Soothe Therapist's Financial Anxiety (part 1)

Relying solely on direct clinical hours may leave private practitioners financially vulnerable to income instability. Since client hours in private practice can vary greatly depending on the time of year, state of the economy, number of new referrals, and several other factors, developing multiple income streams can help you to create a more stable income. "By having the other income streams in place, I have been able to be less susceptible to the ebbs and flows that occur in private practice during difficult economic times," says The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT. In addition to providing income stability, diversifying your professional activities with multiple income streams allows therapists to explore a variety of interests, to express creativity, and to get paid for their passions.

In addition to clinical hours, I own and serve as clinical director of a private therapy clinic where I oversee and supervise 10 therapists, write for PsychCentral and other publications, work as a relationship and emotional health media contributor, do public speaking, provide consultation to therapists building a private practice, and I'm currently writing my first book.  Curious about what other private practitioners are doing to add to income stability I reached out to several successful colleagues to see what additional income streams they've developed. Here's a sampling of what other therapists are doing to diversify their professional life and achieve greater income stability.

Write and publish a book

Many therapists have taken their clinical expertise and turned it into a book. For example, Frank J. Sileo, PhD has  written three children's books, including Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids about Homesickness (Health Press, 2009). Clinical Psychologist Dr. John Duffy took his passion for parenting and authored a book The Available Parent: Radical Optimism For Raising Teens and Tweens (Viva Editions, 2011). What areas of expertise could you write about?

Write for print publications

Supplementing clinical work, Terrie Browning, LPC, CFC, DCC writes for a column "My Healthy Mind" for a local magazine My Metro You. Not only does it provide additional revenue but she says it's also personally fulfilling. Of writing for publications she says, "Writing allows me to share knowledge on topics that are a concern for many people and offers a way for me to network myself."  Therapist Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. has successfully written for professional publications including Social Work Focus, Social Work Today, Addiction Treatment Forum, and The Newsletter for the Society for Family Therapy and Research, adding an additional income stream.

Create a therapeutic product

Have you considered creating and selling a product based on your clinical expertise? Stephanie Ann Adams, M.A., LPC of Beginnings Counseling & Consulting, created a hybrid counseling/video series for premarital counseling through Twogether in Texas. To help families deal with the stress of relocation Jill Kristal, President of Transitional Learning Curves, developed a game and book series called 'Our Move'.

Develop a professional online network

The internet allows for many options for therapists to create passive income through membership sites. In addition to writing a local magazine column and providing clinical work, Browning, with the help of her adult children, developed a professional wellness center online called Experts Now. This online center offers wellness experts an avenue to offer services and sell products for a commission creating additional income for Browning.

Contract as a consultant

Consider asking yourself, "Which companies or organizations may want to tap into your areas of expertise?" Therapist Dr. Mario Kirk, LPC, Director, A Blessed Child, LLC, performs psychological testing for local attorneys and schools. Women's reproductive health specialist Pec Indman EdD, MFT consults and trains for county health programs and for the US Federal government.

Are you developing multiple streams of income to supplement your direct care hours? Please share your ideas in a comment below.

Watch for multiple income streams part 2 later this week!