Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast!

I’m your host, Cindy Norton.

Here in Episode 21 I help you decide if you should be offering a phone consultation to potential clients.

Let’s get started.

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See below for the episode show notes links and transcript…

Episode 21 Show Notes Links

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Episode 21 Transcript

Hello there, and welcome back to Season 3 of the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast! I’m your host, Cindy Norton. Here in Episode 21 I’m going to help you decide if you should be offering a phone consultation to potential clients.

Let’s get started.

Have you been wanting to start your private practice, but you can’t seem to take that first step? Maybe you’re afraid of failure or lack confidence, or maybe the idea of running your own practice is overwhelming. I’m Cindy Norton, owner of Mountain Practice Journeys and I help therapists and counselors to love the business side of private practice. I’ll share with you practical skills and advice along with a healthy dose of inspiration so that you can be on your way to the practice of your dreams. Put on your hiking boots, and let’s get going.

If you haven’t yet listened to Episode 20, I urge you to do that. In that episode I answer the question: Does your social media account really get you therapy clients?

Now let’s get on to today’s episode.

For our discussion today I want to touch on why you may or may not choose to offer a phone consultation to potential clients.

And I do want to say that each private practice is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. As I’m talking about today’s topic, be sure to tune into the heart and soul of your business and see what it wants. You’ll know what’s best. Trust your intuition.

And, the great thing about owning your own private practice is that you are the boss and you can decide what to do. So even if you’re not quite at a place that you trust your intuition, or you’re not sure what you should do – you can try things out and change them if they’re not working out the way you had hoped.

In the private practice world some therapists offer phone consultations and others do not. And there’s a reason why there is a mix – phone consultations are not the best use of time for some practices, while they are extremely beneficial for others.

Let’s first talk about why you may not choose to offer a phone consultation and why they may not be the best fit for your practice.

Phone consultations take time and you have to clear out room for them in your schedule. As a practice owner you only have a certain amount of hours in the day and you need to prioritize all the things you do in your business. So making the time and space for phone consultations may not be a top priority and that’s okay.

One of the main reasons that therapists may choose not to offer phone consultations is that their practice isn’t very specific and there may not be very many presenting concerns that they would need to refer out for. If this is the case, making the time for phone consultations may not be worth the effort or provide an added benefit.

On the other hand, phone consultations can be extremely beneficial for ensuring good fit clients. If your practice is very specialized like mine, phone consultations are definitely worth the time and effort, because not every client is going to be a good fit to work with you.

For example, even though I work with couples in my private practice, I don’t work with some of the most common concerns that couples seek support around such as ambivalence about their relationship, high conflict, or infidelity.

It’s important to me that potential clients know this before the first session. Because the last thing that I want is to have a first session with a couple and have to refer them out because they wanted support around infidelity recovery when that isn’t my specialty. I don’t want them to feel as if their time or money were wasted.

And, a special note here, if you decide to make space for phone consultations you can go about it a couple of ways. You can offer phone consultations or you can require phone consultations. Some potential clients want to be able to speak to you and ask questions before they book their first appointment, so you can have phone consultations available as an option for those who want it.

In my practice, I require that all potential clients have a phone consultation with me because I want to ensure they fully understand how I work and feel comfortable with me. I also want to be absolutely confident that I am one of the best therapists to help them reach their goals.

I hope my thoughts have been helpful in identifying the types of practices that would be best served by phone consultations, as well as the practices that could do without.

If you are not currently offering phone consultations for potential clients and you are beginning to think that you should, here are a few signs that you may want to consider giving it a go:

-You are finding that the clients you are taking on are not a great fit for you to work with.

-You are finding yourself referring out a lot during the first few sessions.

-You are wishing that your clients knew more about you, the way that you work, and your policies before getting started.

-You find yourself extra nervous before a first session because you have never spoken to the client before.

-You have identified the clients that you truly enjoy working with and you wish you had more of them.

-Potential clients are requesting phone consultations with you and it’s disruptive because you don’t have a procedure for them.

If you are noticing any of these signs and think it’s time that you begin offering phone consultations, try it out. On the next episode I’ll be sharing more information about how to have effective phone consultations and what elements you may want to include.

It’s one thing to offer phone consultations, and another to have an automated system in place to manage the scheduling of your phone consultations.

If you just begin offering phone consultations without a system in place it can definitely be a time suck. You may be playing phone or email tag with potential clients while you both try to find a time that works for the consultation. It can definitely be a scheduling nightmare and not worth your time at all.

If the only reason you haven’t set up a system for scheduling phone consultations is because you don’t have time – think about how much time is lost each and every day because you don’t have a system in place. It really does add up. By taking the time to set up a system, you can save several hours each month.

I’m all about ease and simplicity. I want to have plenty of time for rest and free time amidst having a successful business, so I’m constantly thinking of ways to refine and simplify everything that I do. I spent a year refining my process for offering phone consultations. This was brought about by a desire to have a practice that I absolutely loved and worked for my personality and lifestyle.

There were two main aspects that I wanted to integrate into my process. One was that I always wanted to leave my phone on silent and I never, ever wanted to answer my phone. The second was that I wanted to be able to provide all potential clients with information about my practice such as ideal client description and session fees BEFORE they made the decision to schedule a phone consultation. This basically allows potential clients to screen themselves in or out before the phone consultation, making it more likely that they are a good fit even before you connect for the first time.

I outline every detail of my process in my online course called The Introverts Guide To A Simplified Private Practice. I even give you my voicemail script, my email auto responder message, and my phone consultation guide for clients. I’ll definitely be talking more about this topic in the future, but I wanted to let you know that this course is available. You can find a link in the show notes, or find it in the courses section of my website at mountainpracticejourneys.com.

During each episode I’ll be giving you one small take away, action step, or mindset shift. I call these acorns. Listen to episode 0 to get the scoop on what the acorns are all about.

The acorn from this episode is to take time to decide what is best for you and your practice.

Remember, as with everything I discuss here on the podcast, be sure to pause and tune into your own intuition. You know what is best for your practice and your life. My purpose is to share information, options, possibilities, and different ways of thinking. Take what is useful and leave the rest.

What is great about having a private practice is that we get to decide where our priorities lie. We can decide if phone consultations are important for us and the way we run our practice. There’s no right or wrong answer here, and that’s the beauty of it.

Please follow your heart and your instincts when making a decision about your practice. Don’t do something just because someone else does, or because someone told you that you should. You know what’s best for you, and ignore the rest.

As I outlined in episode 0, I’ll be alternating between a fun fact and ‘what I’m digging’ segment with each new episode.

For this episode I’m digging plants. Literally. More specifically my herb plants. I grew some basil from seed this year and have been making homemade pesto and it is absolutely delicious. I just put some basil, pine nuts and/or walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend. It turns out great! I also have a mint plant that is supplying me with mojitos and mint tea this Summer.

Thank you so much for joining me today on your private practice journey.

For episode 22 we’ll continue on the topic of phone consultations and I’ll share my thoughts on how to make them effective.

In the meantime, join me over on instagram @mountainpracticejourneys

There’s no way you can know how much it means to me that you choose to join me here as I share all things related to private practice. Please subscribe so you don’t miss a step. For more information about this episode, please visit the show notes page at mountainpracticejourneys.com/podcast I truly appreciate you Trailblazers. Your mountain is within reach. Journey on.

I Want You To Be Successful In Business & In Life!

Starting, growing, and maintaining a business is a big deal. It's super-exciting and super-scary all at the same time. I created Mountain Practice Journeys to support you through the difficult and muddy terrain, and to celebrate with you when you have reached each summit of the many mountains you will conquer on your journey.

Happy Climbing, Cindy

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