Live Consulting with Christy Pennison: Creating Effective Systems in your Practice | FP 90

Are you struggling with system issues in your practice? How do you know if these system issues are from a clinician or from the practice itself? What is your no-show policy?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens does a live consulting call with Christy Pennison about how to create effective systems in your private practice.

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From building a brand and designing the perfect website to reflect that, to helping you rank higher with search engines. They’ve even created tools to make online marketing simple that are specifically for therapists. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for our listeners.

Simply visit brightervision.com/joe to learn more and get your first month free of a new website for your private practice.

Meet Christy Pennison

Christy Pennison is a licensed professional counselor, mental health consultant, and owner of Be Inspired Counseling & Consulting in Alexandria, LA.

She is passionate about inspiring hope for change through counseling, consulting, and speaking to help individuals of all ages move forward and live fully.

Visit her website and connect on Facebook.

In This Podcast

  • Take notes
  • Practice issues
  • Christy’s advice to Christian counselors

Take notes

When you notice little hiccups in your systems or something that could be optimized to perform better, take notes. Keep a notepad on your person or jot them down in your phone so that you can keep track of all the things you would like to fix up.

Especially when it comes to your clinicians. Keep track of their client retention, of how long they take to submit notes to you, and so forth.

Sometimes it might be possible that something you think is an issue is only one person struggling. It is important to keep tabs on this however because this could be vice versa.

Maybe once a month or every two weeks you sit down and look at “what is the retention rate of my clinicians and how is that going”. If you see that multiple people struggle, that’s a business issue but if you see that you got one clinician [that] has high turnover with clients or one that is struggling to see them for the first appointment, that is a one-time situation. (Whitney Owens)

Practice issues

If your practice struggles with client no-shows, it is important for you to create a very clear no-show policy in your practice system that all your clients and clinicians are aware of.

When you create a new policy, you do have to notify your clients of course, but they don’t have to sign the policy to make it active. (Whitney Owens)

When your clients next come in, let them know about any policy or rate changes and discuss it.

You can upload that document to the EHR and request that they go and sign it but let them know that it is still happening. Jot down in your notes that you did have that discussion with them and upload that as well.

You need to abide by your own policies because it shows your clients that you stand by your boundaries, and you show to them that your services – and ultimately their therapy – is valuable.

Your no-show policy also activates from the first session.

Christy’s advice to Christian counselors

Faith doesn’t make things easy but it makes them possible. As a practice owner and as a human being, when we have faith that we will figure it out, it still might be difficult, but it does make it possible.

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Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] Do you need help building your brand? Feel like you don’t even know where to begin when it comes to marketing your practice online? Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution from building a brand and designing the perfect website to reflect that to helping you rank higher with search engines. They’ve even created tools to make online marketing simple that are specifically for therapists. Best of all, we’ve worked with them to create a special offer just for our listeners. Simply visit brightervision.com\Joe, to learn more and get your first month free on a new website for your private practice. Again, that’s brightervision.com\Joe.

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. Happy to be here with you guys. I hope everybody’s having a good summer and enjoying the weather, getting out a little bit. It’s so important as therapists that we do slow down some. For me the month of June and July, I am slowing down and spending more time with my family hanging out at the beach. I am hanging out at a lake for a few days up in North Carolina. I’m also spending more time with my kids, celebrating birthdays and all that good stuff. So I hope that you’re also doing the same. I took some of my responsibilities with my consulting and with my practice and got those done in advance or formed them out with delegating so that I didn’t have to do so much during the summer months because the summer months are, few and far between, as I want to be able to really maximize my time with my kids, or honestly just driving out to the beach and reading a book.

Anyway, I was thinking the other day somebody in, well, actually one of my mastermind groups, she said, faith is an action. And that really stuck with me because it’s so easy to kind of keep going through life. Not that, I mean, going through is definitely an act of faith because we trust every day, but sometimes we feel that urge to do something, maybe it’s start a group practice, or maybe it’s something like read a certain book or text some money and check in on them. We feel these urges to do things and sometimes that’s the nudge of the Holy Spirit. And when we choose to act on that, we’re stepping out in faith. I mean, this podcast is called Faith in Practice, we are putting our faith into practice in the way we run our businesses.

So I don’t know, maybe you’re listening to this podcast, filling a nudge on something in your heart to do. I have no idea what it is, but you know what it is. Do it, reach out to somebody, step out in faith because faith is an action and I just loved that was shared in my group. That’s just an amazing therapist and I love that she brought that up. So on today’s episode though, like with all the episodes in June, we’ve been doing live consulting. And if we want to talk about a girl who steps out and action, boy, Christy is one of those girls. I had met her in Next Level Practice, kind of knew who she was and then kept hearing story after story about big leaps and bounds that she had taken in her practice, how she really stepped out and started a practice, went back to her hometown to do that, and she just has an incredible story.

She is a member of Group Practice Boss, which is our community for people who have a group practice and so I’ve gotten to know her even better and through that community. I’ll also give kudos to her because she came on and did a podcast episode and at the end, we ended up realizing that the audio was so messed up. So she came back and rerecorded, and I just appreciate that she took the time to do that. Plus we got to do some extra consulting, so that was fun too. Anyway, I’m excited for you to listen to her because she has a little bit more on the group practice experience and talks about really what systems to look at, what processes to focus on and how to have those running smoothly so that she doesn’t have to be so involved in her group practice. So this is some live consulting with Christy Pennison on episode 90, Creating Effective Systems in your Practice.
[WHITNEY] Stay on the Faith in Practice podcast, I am interviewing Christy Pennison. She is a licensed professional counselor, mental health consultant, and owner of Be Inspired Counseling & Consulting in Alexandria, Louisiana. She’s passionate about inspiring hope for change through counseling, consulting and speaking to help individuals of all ages move forward and live fully. Christy, thanks for coming on the show.
[CHRISTY PENNISON] Whitney, thank you so much for having me.
[WHITNEY] So today we’re going to do some live consulting, which I love doing, like it’s totally fun. So at first, I’ll let you share a little bit about your practice, about your model, kind of how many clinicians you have, how often do they work, W2 contractors, insurance, some of those basics, if you could share that about your practice.
[CHRISTY] Yes, absolutely. So I’m in month 19 of practice, started off as a solopreneur or solo practice owner and then moved into a group practice at around October of last year when we onboarded the first clinician. And then since then there has been two other clinicians added. So now our practice comprises of four clinicians, including myself. Three of us are more of a full-time status with one person being more like a part-time status. And for us full-time versus part-time, full-time is around 18 to 20 hours a week, sometimes more. And then part-time is normally around eight to 10 hours a week. I do a contractor model. So everybody receives a flat fee per session and they’re on a contract basis.

We also have one administrative assistant who is virtual, but local, and she’s also a contractor. We do accept one insurance plan, so we are an insurance-based practice, but we only accept one insurance. We are looking to add one more at some point this year and we also do private pay. So I would say the makeup of our practice, insurance versus private pay is really probably around a 60/40, 50/50. So it’d mean that a little bit more than half of our practice is insurance-based, but we do still have a large percentage of private pay. I’m in Alexandria, Louisiana, so we are a smaller community, a smaller city. But even as we’ve grown and started the practice here in Alexandria and that’s grown and developed, we’ve really seen an increase kind of in word of mouth and really just kind of getting our name in the community as one of the quality mental health providers in the area, which I’m really super proud about and excited about as we continue to build some of those community relationships.
[WHITNEY] That is exciting. When you start getting calls, like even from people who don’t know who you are, you don’t know them, they know you really, like you don’t have that personal relationship, but they just know your name and the community, then it becomes like real. You’re like seriously, these relationships that I have worked so hard to build it’s working. And now they’re telling other people that I don’t even know about my practice and people are calling.
[CHRISTY] Well, and what is really exciting Whitney, even this past week, is I got a call from somebody who’s a referral source, but I actually hadn’t talked to this physician within their practice. And they were just calling to get feedback for me on a situation that they were having. So that’s when you know like, okay, I think we’re getting known in the community and that is what is really exciting because anybody that has started a practice, you well know that it sometimes takes a while to just allow people to know about you. And I remember that was one of my misconceptions as a practice owner. I thought I was going to open the doors and then everybody would just know that I was available.

So to now be at a group practice level where people of community know us and they don’t go just me, they know us as a practice and now they’re even calling and requesting for the other therapists that are in our practice, it is very exciting to see how some of that work that you put in on the front end does and you’re like I don’t see the return on it and you still start to see that return on that investment of your time.
[WHITNEY] Well, way to go. I’m glad that’s coming together for you. So Christy, what are some of your questions that you have today for the podcast?
[CHRISTY] So as I had gotten and transitioned into this space of practice where it’s now me and three other clinicians I started to find these gaps that start to show. And I say, gaps is it’s just like inconsistencies and things such as like maybe the way that I do something with a client or check a client out or the different things that I do to ensure like the session has been paid for or maybe that the client has followed up with. I’ve started to realize maybe some gaps in my, I don’t want to say failure, but yes kind of to create systems that are consistent among each person. So some of the issues that I want to get your feedback on Whitney is starting to see maybe different people have different show rates or I’ve also been able to see some situations where people maybe are not collecting as consistently. And even though that’s not a big issue, but I’ve just started seeing these discrepancies among the way we do things. So I really want your feedback on maybe when you started, how are the ways that you built systems and how did you start to identify ways to do that in a way that is sustainable and really impactful for the practice?
[WHITNEY] Great questions. So first of all, just want to make sure you’re not a failure.
[CHRISTY] Thank you.
[WHITNEY] You’re not. You’re obviously very successful and it’s easy for us to look at those negative things and kind of use that verbiage on ourselves. And we have to like be super careful because you’ve made so much progress and looking at more that way. I mean, every time something goes “wrong,” that’s an opportunity to make it more. So instead of thinking it as a failure, think of it as, how can I use this as a stepping stone to have better systems in my practice? Like, you can’t know what you don’t know until you don’t know it or until it messes up. So this is an opportunity for you to fix it.

We were talking a little bit before we got on air that when you hit that four or five clinician mark, that’s when you really start to notice what’s working and what’s not in your practice. So I encourage you, first of all, when these things happen, maybe take notes, like have like a running note pad or a Google Drive document or something like that, where, here’s an inconsistency that just happened. And then start to notice if you see patterns or if you see certain people, what that is. Now, I think there’s an important distinction here between, is it a problem with one person or is it a problem with the business? So you were mentioning no-show rates. Like that’s really important.

We talk a lot in Group Practice Boss about monitoring KPIs, those key performance indicators. So it’s important that maybe even once a month or every two weeks, you sit down and you just kind of look at, hey, what is the no-show rate? What’s the retention rate with my clinicians and how’s that going? If you see that multiple people struggle, that’s a business issue. But if you see that you’ve got one clinician that has high turnover with their clients or one that is struggling to see them for the first appointment, that’s a one-time situation. Does that make sense?
[CHRISTY] Oh my gosh. Yes, that makes so much sense.
[WHITNEY] So if it’s a one person issue, as you would expect, deal with it on that one person. And I encourage all practice owners to meet with their clinicians, even if it’s for a short amount of time, once a month, because that face-to-face is so important. So when stuff like this comes up, you’re not having to call them and go, we have to schedule a super meeting. We can talk about how you stink, how you messed this up. And I’m exaggerating here, but like, you feel bad as a business owner having to do something like that. So instead saying, “Hey this is our regular time that we always meet. Here’s some of the feedback I want to give you from the past month.” And it becomes a lot more natural and easy instead of having to set up a separate meeting where they feel like it’s like the no, no bad meeting.
[CHRISTY] Yes. That’s such good feedback. And we were starting to do that and then kind of got away from it when we had our transition. For those, we pretty much had a situation where our office got flooded and so we had to move into another place pretty quickly. So I think there was some things that we did have established. I’m glad that you brought that up, that we need to really reestablish that.
[WHITNEY] Yes. So the couple of things you just shared with some issues that are popping up, are any of them, obviously a practice wide issue that we could talk about?
[CHRISTY] You know, one of the practice wide issues that I think that we started to find is on the billing side of things, where we were kind of collecting things pretty significantly, but there’s been things that have gotten missed. And I think that is more of a practice side of things.
[WHITNEY] And is that mostly happening with the insurance payments or all payments?
[CHRISTY] I think it’s happening more with insurance payments. So we have a process where typically when the person comes in to the office after the end of their session, I guess the system or the role is to go ahead and process whatever copayment that they have. But we’ve had some issues come up where like maybe somebody thing was entered in correctly and then there are four sessions in and we realize that they owe a lot more than we thought they owed, or maybe there’s a situation where this person didn’t get charged for this no-show fee and then they come to their next appointment and are surprised about it. So I think it’s kind of two-fold. It’s just kind of like these small gaps that we really didn’t have an issue with before. Like you said, when we were maybe a one or two person practice, because there was a lot of oversight to that.
[WHITNEY] So I encourage you that when these things come up, go ahead and draft a document. I will tell you, I hate doing this, running my processes. So if you hate it, get your assistant to do it for you. Like my, I realized so much on my assistant, she’s much better with words than I am. So when we have to do something new, she writes it out and then she adds it to our handbook. That way when I’m training people it’s in there. So maybe you add something to your handbook on billing and taking insurance payments and how we handle that. So first of all, for your no-shows, I would create a very clear policy for no-shows. Do you already have one in place at all?
[CHRISTY] Yes. So we do have a clear policy, but here’s one of the hiccups. And I guess as we’re talking through this, this is bringing awareness to me. So for the past six, no four months, maybe the policy has been the same where we did increase the no-show rate. I was very clear, but I think one of the issues that we’ve had is there are some people that implement it more than others. So we actually talked about this recently because it’s kind of a gap because there’s some people that maybe really need to be charged a no-show rate and they’re not getting charged. And that’s where some of the issue is coming from, I think. What would you do about that?
[WHITNEY] If I got something like, I see your clinicians, they get paid a percentage of what they collect?
[CHRISTY] Right. They get, well, they get a certain rate, but yes, it is a percentage, but it’s a flat rate. So even for no-shows, they get a flat rate. It’s a percentage base, but it’s a flat rate of that no-show fee.
[WHITNEY] So what would happen, well, first of all, if they don’t collect the, no-show fee, are they still getting paid by you for the now-show?
[CHRISTY] No.
[WHITNEY] Good that doesn’t give them the incentive to get that payment, knowing that they’re going to get paid if they get it.
[CHRISTY] Well, I think that there, and like I said, this maybe doesn’t happen so much, but I think there’s like, I guess a personality thing of some leeway versus not leeway. And looking at, Whitney, I’m also just as guilty her, okay. Let me throw myself in the mix and be completely honest. Like there’s some people that, because we did have a no-show issue that was really small. So one of the problems is there’s still a few old clients that have not signed any paperwork for the new no-show rate. And then part of the problem is me too, not necessarily holding people to this new policy or making sure that these older clients get this new policy in their hands and that we’re implementing it.
[WHITNEY] Well, you can work on that and control yourself. So when you create a new policy, we do have to notify our clients of course, that they don’t have to sign the policy to make it active.
[CHRISTY] Oh thank you.
[WHITNEY] Well, you can’t force them to sign a paperwork, like we’re going to abide by a notice of privacy practices, but they don’t have to sound that. It just happens.
[CHRISTY] Oh, thank you for giving me that information Whitney because here I am thinking like until we get somebody signed on the dotted line, I can not change the thing for that person. But really what I’m saying is it’s my obligation to notify them or not? That’s not a deal because it’s a really a change of our practice, so this is the practice changing.
[WHITNEY] That’s right. So like the noticing of privacy practices, honestly, all they’re signing is I was aware of my privacy practices. Now for your informed consent, most definitely, you have to have that signed because they’re consenting to treatment. You can’t do treatment without that. But when you have a new policy, you’re saying, “Hey, we’re making you aware of this new policy.” So like recently when we did our rate increase letters, we do those every year right around the beginning of the year, I say to my clients, when they come in, “Hey, I want you to know that my rates going up and this is what it’s going to be.” We discussed that, of course, and then I say, “I’m uploading this document to your EHR. I’m going to request that you go in and sign it. Just because you sign it or don’t sign it, it doesn’t matter. It’s still happening and if you have questions, let me know.” And then I just document in their notes as well for that session that we discussed it and then I uploaded it to their paperwork.
[CHRISTY] Oh my gosh, thank you. I over-complicate things, Whitney and that just really simplified it for me because I think we were, hat’s the hold up. Like we were at one point, this is how crazy it’s got me. We printed out these new forms and then I gave them to me and the older clinician that was here before and they were like, “We’re going to get people to sign in when they come in.” Well, of course you know what happens? You get to the session, you forget to sign it, or if you do sign it, then you have to upload it. But how much easier? Yes, it’s they come in, we talk about it, “Hey, I’m sending this to you right now.” The clinician sends it while they’re in the session and then they at least are aware that this is what the new policy is. Light bulb moment. I know that seems really minor, but it’s really good.
[WHITNEY] Well, I love it. And now you’re going to get more money, so that’s really good. So make it super clear in your informed consent, what the now-show policy is with your clinicians. Also review that in your next staff meeting and say what the okays are and what the not okays are. So I can kind of share with you how we do this in our practice. so we definitely have, if you don’t show up, you are charged the full rate of the session. And honestly, I know as a therapist, this is really difficult because we have empathy for our clients, but if you do not abide by your policy, what are you saying to clients, that policies don’t matter, that rules aren’t important. You don’t have to take obligations. The obligations don’t matter. You don’t have to take responsibility for your actions. Like everything in therapy is therapeutic. So we know that money is therapeutic. So we are teaching them the importance of their therapy. And if we were to say, “Oh, it’s fine. You don’t have to pay for the session that you just missed,” what does that say about the value of therapy? So it’s really hard, but we have to remember that part, that this is actually a way that we care for them and the way that we teach them.
[CHRISTY] Well, and I think that’s a great point because I think one of the things that we’ve seen is that like, when we do hold the line, then people do actually rise to the occasion, I guess, so to speak. So there has been times where we haven’t been clear, and I think we’re slowly getting better on this. We just need to make sure everybody is up to the same thing now. and just making sure that everybody’s enforcing it and the way that our policy is right. So our policy does say like, if for some reason there is like an illness or an unforeseen weather situation or just something that is like way out of their control, that was completely unexpected, then we can make provisions for that on a therapist to therapist basis, because they’ll know that client and they’ll know the circumstances and situation. But other than that, if you just got a different schedule or like something came up in your schedule that you weren’t foreseeing, or you overbooked yourself or something, or you didn’t call and cancel the day before, then that’s when we have to enforce this policy.
[WHITNEY] So we have the exact same one, because you know what, I did not want someone showing up sick at my office. So we have the exact same policy here and I do the same with the clinicians. Like, “Hey, if you collect the payment, you get paid for that session and if you don’t collect payment, I’m not paying you for a session.” And that has given them motivation because if I didn’t do that, it would be really hard to get payments because they’re the ones that have a relationship with that client, not us.
[CHRISTY] And I think, we touched on this briefly in our last staff meeting, but even one of the things that came up when we talk about this, even though I need to get just kind of a clear thing where everybody makes sure everybody’s on the same page, was that it really is not necessarily fair for one client that’s over here and has a situation and they’re getting charged for this and then this other client is not being held to the same expectation. It creates a discrepancy in the care, I think, in ways that we give as a practice. So you have the issue that could arise where like, not that clients talk to each other, but like where one person was like, “Oh no that didn’t happen to me.” We want to make sure that we’re giving a consistent thing across the board.
[WHITNEY] Yes. Well, you’d be surprised in a small town what people talk about. Yes, I get this written out and I would give it to your clinicians. And then I think if you wanted to take an extra step, this would totally be extra. Look at how much money you lost in a certain month by not enacting this policy and let the clinicians know, “Hey, you could have made this much more if you would’ve just enacted this policy.”
[CHRISTY] Wow. Yes, that would probably be a game changer. And I need to look at that for, like I said, even for myself. I’ll look at it and be like, “Okay, Christine, whenever you see this, this is what could have been in there.” And it is a time thing, especially too, I think respect for the time because if somebody is not showing up for their appointment, then that could have very easily been somebody else that needed the help, that one at that time. And I think that’s going to get busier as a practice. That’s just something we’re going to have to really hold true team.
[WHITNEY] Most definitely, most definitely. And I’ll even say that to clients, like the reason we charged this no-show is this is your time and I could have been working with someone else who really needs it. And actually going along with this no-show policy, another one of our policies is three times you’re out. So if somebody does this consistently, even if we’re charging them the fee, if they do it a third time, the third time, they no longer can come back for counseling. At least not for awhile. If they do it like kind of in a row or in a short amount of time, because we don’t want to continue to work with clients that aren’t taking their therapy seriously, because there are people on a waiting list waiting to get in. So we want to be able to take them in and be able to help them instead of sitting around wishing someone had come in and gotten the help, then they didn’t even if we’re making the money.
[CHRISTY] Yes. That makes sense. Well, Whitney, this is a good question to maybe ask you as well, is what is about goals for new appointments? Like what is y’all’s policy around that and kind of how to you, because we have some new people and we’ve tried to do some things on the admin side of like calling to remind about first appointments and just doing some more touches to the person before they get here. But we still have seen more than I would like for new appointment no-shows.
[WHITNEY] Yes. You’re going to love this. The no-show policy starts with the first appointment. So we do not schedule that client without a credit card on file. And we explain the cancellation policy. I mean, it’s the same thing when I go get a massage, which I wish I did more of, but when I do go get a massage, they always take my credit card and if I don’t show up, they’re going to be charging it. And it makes me more accountable. And this is really good for clients because when their card is on file and they know they’re going to get charged, they’re much more likely to show up for their appointments. So we’re helping the client by taking their card.
[CHRISTY] Yes. Well, like you said, it’s just a consideration. Like if you can’t make it or you decide, “Hey, I don’t want to go to therapy here,” all it takes is a phone call and that resolves that problem. But on a fun fact note, Whitney, just so you know, because we changed offices, there is a massage therapist that is upstairs, a massage therapist and an aesthetician. So I’m about to start trying to enact more self-care and utilize their services, because all I have to do is walk up the stairs.
[WHITNEY] Oh girl, you could make a great relationship of referring back and forth too.
[CHRISTY] Yes, absolutely. Well, and they’ve already, we’ve already kind of established a good relationship, so I have their cards sit in the lobby.
[WHITNEY] That’s really great. So yes, I would say once we started taking credit cards at the front end, our no-shows, the first appointments went from like, I mean, I’m just guessing here, it was like 15 to 20% no-show to about 2% to 3%. Like it’s pretty rare for us to have someone just not show up for an appointment if their card is on file.
[CHRISTY] Yes, and I feel like we’re at the capacity now too, that, you know, in the past we can make a rationale why that is not something that’s needed. But I think especially with all of our clinicians, all of our evening appointments and afternoons are completely booked. You know, there are times whenever like somebody else could have been in that place, and just with the percentage that I’m seeing, I really would love to see a trend downward. So I like your suggestion because then it’s just setting the disclaimers, actually at the beginning, before they even walk through the door and now the show policy. So that way the conversation is maybe getting had now even more so than it maybe has it is right now.
[WHITNEY] You got it. And it’s less pressure on the clinician too.
[CHRISTY] Yes, absolutely.
[WHITNEY] So we talk about it in the first phone call. When we get the card, we send an email with like more information and where our practice is located and in red, the cancellation policy is on there, we have it on our EHR and when they go into create their portal. And it’s also in the informed consent, so there’s no way they didn’t know. And I don’t know if you’ve had this question, I’ll go ahead and throw it out there. One of the questions I get a lot is, well, can you really charge somebody’s card without them signing a consent for you to charge their card? The answer is yes. And I spoke to a credit card expert. He runs, oh boy, it’s drawing a blank right now. I would give him some credit right here, but it’ll probably come to me in a minute, but he does credit cards for healthcare businesses. So we use them for awhile and that was what he told me; was when someone gives you their credit card number, that is a consent. Like when you get Amazon, when you go on Amazon and you purchase something, you put your credit card in, you don’t have to sign something saying Amazon can charge your card. You’re letting Amazon charge your car because you put your card in the system.
[CHRISTY] Right. That makes so much sense. I love that. Yes, and I think that’s where, as we’re talking about this and kind of processing this, I think I got hung up so much on the signatures. You know, it’s kind of realizing that there is different situations where there doesn’t necessarily need to be that sign on the dotted line. There just seems to be an awareness of what this is and in a way to document that too, that says, “Hey, we’ve had this conversation and this is what our thing is.” But if we put it in our kind of in a system and the way that we do things, then it’s going to hopefully help just kind of decrease that and then it’ll help make everybody feel happier. The clients are happier because they know their appointment’s going to be kept if we’re going to be here, is going to make the therapist so happier because they’re going to be able to get compensated for their time.
[WHITNEY] Yes. So each of these things that you’re seeing is maybe a system issue, like be writing them down and see if it’s a business related or an individual related. And then if it’s business related, start working through it and if you’re anything like me, I need someone to talk to when I work through something. So get your assistant involved, get her to help you create a process or even a clinician. If you feel like they can help you think through a process that’s going to work. And then also just utilizing like your accountability partner through Practice of the Practice or through Group Practice Boss, you’re in those communities. Like use your communities that you’re already in with other therapists to be able to kind of talk through these things.
[CHRISTY] Yes. Awesome. Well, and that’s one of the things I’ve really appreciated being a part of Group Practice Boss. We’re going to do a shout out and just being able to even ask you these questions or Alison these questions, and just be able to vet this with other people that are going through the process. It really brings to light things that you wouldn’t think about and kind of like, you just need to set at the beginning. Like sometimes we can kind of internalize this as like, okay, I should have done this better or maybe you didn’t do this in the front end, but it’s just really an opportunity to learn. And the more you collaborate and get inside the better. You can have a system and a practice that runs in a really efficient way where everybody’s enjoying where they get to work and the clients are loving the care that they get. All those new things may seem small. They really can add up and cause a lot of frustration and sometimes I think resentment, if they’re not taking care of. So I appreciate all these recommendations and I’m going to be putting some of them into action.
[WHITNEY] Awesome. Well, that’s exciting. Well, Christy, I need to ask you what I ask everyone that comes on the Faith in Practice podcast. What do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[CHRISTY] Oh, you know what, is a verse on my wall. And I think I’m not going to even try, it’s Luke 3 something, but there’s a verse on my wall in the home office. And it says faith makes things, it doesn’t make things easy, but it makes them possible. And I think one of the things that I’ve just learned as a practice owner and just as a human being is that when we just have faith that we’re going to figure it out, like even right now, or that God’s going to put the people in our path or the community in our path or someone to help guide us along the journey doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy, but it’s definitely possible. And I think sometimes it is just being brave enough. You probably won’t believe this Whitney, but I used to have a really hard time asking questions. So asking people like, how do you do this? So I think one of the things that I’ve learned is that I do believe that there are people placed in our path to be able to help us along. And you can try to figure it out on your own. That’s okay, but it’s going to be a lot harder. So I think one of the things is it’s okay to ask questions, to figure out how to get to the next step or how to walk along the journey. So one of the things that I just have loved is just the ability to also just go with the vision that you have in your heart and to see it come alive.

I mean, that takes space and it’s not easy, but I definitely feel like we each have a calling that’s on our life. And I think the more we just trust God to bring it into fruition, it may not come in to the way that we think it’s going to come, but just trust that path and you’ll figure it out. And it may not be the path that you think is going to go down, but you can get to that and anything that’s on your heart.
[WHITNEY] Well, thank you for saying that. And I love just the idea of the importance of asking for help. And that’s what creates community, which I was just reading that verse the other day, in Psalms how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. Like when you’re doing it on your own, yes, you can do it on your own, but I think God is honored when we go to one another and work on it together. And I think that’s a beautiful thing.
[CHRISTY] Absolutely.
[WHITNEY] Well, Christy, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.
[CHRISTY] Thank you for having you Whitney, and thank you for giving me all this good insight. I’ll follow up with you and let you know how it goes when we put it all into practice.
[WHITNEY] Will love it. All right, girl. Talk to you later.
[CHRISTY] Bye.
[WHITNEY] Thank you again, Brighter Vision for sponsoring this episode. If you want to take advantage of the special deal, remember to go over to brightervision.com\Joe.

Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. Would love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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