The ABCs of Online Therapy: A Quickstart Guide for Mom Clinicians to Take Their Practice Online with Ashley Comegys | PoP 495

The ABCs of Online Therapy: A Quickstart Guide for Mom Clinicians to Take Their Practice Online with Ashley Comegys | PoP 495

As a mom clinician, have you always wondered what it would be like to start an online practice, even if it is just part-time? Have you felt overwhelmed about where to even begin starting your online practice? What benefits would you and your clients enjoy if you were to start your practice online?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Ashley Comegys about The ABCs of Online Therapy: A Quickstart Guide for Mom Clinicians to Take Their Practice Online.

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Meet Ashley Comegys

Ashley Comegys is a licensed clinical social worker with an online therapy practice that helps women with anxiety navigate life transitions, grief, trauma, and loss. She has been working with clients online since 2014 and loves the ability to work with clients who may not be able to make it into a traditional office for therapy.

Through cross country moves and a growing family, Ashley has built a successful online practice, working with clients in Louisiana, Hawaii, and Colorado. Ashley is passionate about helping other mom clinicians build their own online therapy practices so they can have the time freedom and flexibility to have a career and raise their family.

Visit her website. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Join her Facebook group here.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • Life as a military family and how that impacts an online practice
  • What happens if a client moves to a state where you aren’t licensed in?
  • Building your online practice website
  • What address should you use?
  • How to network effectively
  • Benefits of online counseling for your clients
  • Benefits of online counseling for you

Life as a military family and how that impacts an online practice

Due to all the moving around, having an online practice if you’re a military family can be confusing at times when it comes to your licensing. Here are Ashley’s suggestions on how to navigate this:

  • Certain states have difficult licensing processes, while others (such as Colorado – which also doesn’t charge a fee) are a lot simpler. The authority can be confusing, but for instance, in Hawaii, you are able to get your license expedited.
  • Certain areas are known to be places where military families live, therefore it can be an easy kind of referral source to count on.

What happens if a client moves to a state where you aren’t licensed in?

It really depends on the state, as you can look into the state’s authority, and in some cases, it is not a lot of money or admin to apply for a license, while in others it isn’t viable. Ashley recommends that if you cannot continue seeing a client, then you should help them with the transition, and look for therapists in the area who are licensed or who work online.

Building your online practice website

There are ways to utilize these tools that you normally would in a brick and mortar office, it just takes a little bit of creativity, but the same strategies can apply.

For online practices, you need to be very clear about the fact that you are an online therapist, and also define your niche group if you have one. This will then help you with your SEO strategy so that you can target specific locations.

  • Have a page that is dedicated to a state and using words that are specific to that location so that Google’s algorithms drive traffic to your site.
  • Also have smaller pages that are town-specific and are hidden and only visible to people who perhaps are searching for a New Orleans online therapist, for example.

Another thing to note is the importance of having a Google Business page, as this will help drive more traffic to your page as an online therapist.

What address should you use?

As an online therapist, you may be wondering about what address you should use? Well, Ashley suggests having two addresses, one to your UPS Box, and then also a virtual address.

  • UPS Box: This is located where you are physically located and is an actual address close to your house.
  • Virtual Address: This is more for the location of your practice address wherever you want it to be to help drive more traffic to your website and reach your target audience.

A lot of different companies offer virtual address services, but Ashley uses iPostal1 for $10/month.

How to network effectively

Sometimes people think that with online therapy it opens up this whole world of we now have access to the whole state, which is very very true. But you can end up kinda talking to everyone and then talking to no one.

Before Covid-19, networking meant meeting in person, but for online therapists pre- and post-COVID, networking can take place in the following ways and still be just as effective as traditional networking:

  • Search for people through social networks and reach out to them. Find the people who perhaps would work alongside your potential clients, such as Doulas or lactation specialists if you’re interested in seeing women for mental health sessions post-pregnancy, for example.
  • Contact doctors or providers in your area or rural areas where perhaps there aren’t many therapists, and introduce yourself over the phone, or arrange to meet for a lunch-and-learn.
  • Contact office managers and introduce yourself and show you can support their clients, team or patients.

With this in mind, you need to build relationships with referral sources that are in your area of expertise – a bit like the Doula and lactation specialist example mentioned above.

Benefits of online counseling for your clients

I’ve had people reach out to me, saying ‘oh I was hoping to see somebody in person but let’s give it a try.’ And they end up really liking it for the convenience.

Convenience

People no longer have to contend with traffic or drive long distances in rural areas to reach you. They can see you wherever they are, and not worry about spending precious time away from their family.

Flexibility of time

You can meet your patients at times that suit you both, and not stick to traditional meeting times. This means watching more soccer practice and being there for their kids when they need their mom or dad most.

Less admin and planning beforehand

Working with moms means that they no longer have to arrange a babysitter or pay someone to look after their child while they take care of their mental health.

A greater sense of connection

If your client is at home, they are already in a place they feel comfortable in and are perhaps more likely to open up and be vulnerable. They don’t have to worry about entering a new space that they aren’t familiar with.

Choice

Clients no longer have to settle with whichever therapist is available in their area – something particularly true in rural areas.

Benefits of online counseling for you

Having my own private practice that is all online, that I’ve made this myself, has given me you know so much more career fulfillment and purpose, that I can say like, ‘I’ve done this.

  • With Covid-19, many therapists have suddenly had to adopt online therapy as a service offering, and even if you don’t want to stay online forever, it is still something that can form part of your practice model. You may even find that some of your clients prefer it now that they’ve tried it.
  • You can be a therapist and also a mom, as it allows you time flexibility that many other jobs don’t allow.
  • Little things like not having to remember to pack your lunch and traveling to work all add up, whereas now you are in control of how you spend your time.
  • You can have more family time such as enjoying lunch with your kids – even if you have a babysitter minding them while you work upstairs.

To help moms get started with building their online practices Ashley has created a free guide called The ABCs of Online Therapy: A Quickstart Guide for Mom Clinicians to Take Their Practice Online

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[JOE]:
Are you still doing your own billing? What a waste of time. You could be doing counseling or any of the other things that you’re really, really good at. My friends over at Practice Solutions are amazing at billing. They’ve collected millions and millions of dollars on behalf of their clients, counselors, just like you. Katherine and Jeremy, the owners, are this amazing couple that has built such a crazy, awesome team. A team that will go after the bills, that will get them collected, and you only pay if they collect. As well, they can help you with credentialing. Take this off of your plate, put your time into something that really matters. I want you to head on over to www.practicesol.com and reach out to them. That’s www.practicesol.com, and let them know that you heard about it on the Practice of the Practice podcast.

This is the practice of the practice podcast with Joe Sanok session number 495.

Welcome, welcome, welcome. How are you? How are you? Yeah, I’m talking to you. How’s your walk going? How’s your drive going? Hope you’re doing incredible. Man, I love doing this podcast. I get to talk to some of the coolest people that are just doing such interesting work. It’s just amazing to do this kind of work. And you know, to help you as we prepare for episode five hundred, we’re getting these voicemails from people just saying what this podcast has done for them. And it’s so inspiring to hear what you have done with it. It’s you taking this knowledge and actually implementing it. I get to do the easy work, you actually have to implement it. So if you want to leave us a voicemail that we might play on episode five hundred, just go over to practiceofthepractice.com/voicemail. Tell us who you are, where you’re at, how has this podcast impacted you? What do you think about the podcast? It may end up on episode five hundred.

Well, today, we’re talking about The ABCs of Online therapy: A Quickstart Guide for Mom Clinicians to Take their Practice Online. In this conversation with Ashley, I love how she thinks through online counseling. And with her moving and changing states, how online counseling and therapy has really been so impactful for her. And Ashley does such a great job of just articulating that and helping us really understand the power of online therapy. So without any further ado, here’s Ashley.

________________________________________

[JOE]:
Well today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Ashley Comegys. Ashley is a licensed clinical social worker with an online therapy practice that helps women with anxiety navigate life transitions, grief, trauma and loss. She’s been working with clients online since 2014 and loves the ability to work with clients who may not be able to make it into a traditional office for therapy. Through cross country moves and a growing family, Ashley has built a successful online practice working with clients in Louisiana, Hawaii, and Colorado. Ashley’s passionate about helping other mom clinicians build their own online therapy practices, so they can have time, freedom, and flexibility to have a career and raise their family. Ashley, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.

[ASHLEY]:
Thanks for having me, Joe. I’m excited to be here.

[JOE]:
Yeah, it’s amazing how online therapy has gone from something that people think about a little bit to the only thing that therapists think about.

[ASHLEY]:
Right. Yeah.

[JOE]:
So, quite timely to be an expert in regards to this area.

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah. Yeah.

[JOE]:
So, you’ve had an online practice since 2014. Take us back to that, I mean, Louisiana, Hawaii, Colorado. Tell us the story of you moving cross country and having an online practice.

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah, so I lived and worked in New Orleans since 2009. And during that time, I met my husband who is in the Coast Guard. And so I was doing agency work, worked for hospitals as a medical social worker, worked in community counseling, did a variety of things during my time, and began supplementing my income a little bit through some online platforms at the time to just have a little bit of extra income. And then, of course, being with somebody who’s in the military, you get orders to go somewhere else.

[JOE]:
Traverse City is a Coast Guard town so yes, we have lots of like, there are some Coasties in our neighborhood. And we always connect with them and then it’s like, they move and we’re like, oh, darn you. But that’s not on them.

[ASHLEY]:
Right, right, right. So we ended up in 2015 getting stationed in Maui, Hawaii, which for most people is like, why would that be a problem. And it is gorgeous and we loved living there, but it was hard to find a job. The opportunities on a small island just weren’t quite there, as I was used to in a bigger city. So I was licensed independently and I thought, okay, well, maybe this is the time to kind of branch out into private practice. And so I began working with some clients in Louisiana online – I was still licensed there – and then met a few other clinicians that we started a group practice that’s still running in Maui. And through that began working with clients on Maui and other islands doing online therapy as well. Fast forward then, we have a baby in 2017 and that brings me home. My husband was gonna have to be away for several months and so it just wasn’t logistics-wise going to work for me to be working at that time. And we ended up moving back to Louisiana in 2018.

So it came at that point where my baby was old enough that I was ready to either put him in daycare or get a babysitter. But the question then kind of became, like you said, for those Coast Guard families, well, what do you do? We’re only going to be here for three years. I loved the freedom that working for myself in private practice gave me. But the reality was, I’m not going to start and stop a brick-and-mortar practice every three years. It’s a lot of time and a lot of money to set up, and I had done it before and I just couldn’t see how it was going to be a viable business option. So it became, again, the chicken or the egg? Do you look for a job or do you find childcare first, and trying to figure out how am I going to still have a career when our family is forced to move every three to four years? And so then I had kind of this lightbulb moment of like, wait a second, Ashley, you’ve been practicing online since 2014. You know how to start a practice. Why not just start a completely online practice that regardless of where we’re stationed, regardless of where we move, that you can continue to work. And so that’s what I did. Beginning 2019, I started my own individual practice, and have been completely solo since. We’re in Louisiana again, but I still practice with clients in Hawaii, here in Louisiana. And I also work with clients in Colorado now too.

[JOE]:
How did the Colorado thing happen?

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah, so Colorado happened where I had a client actually moving to Colorado from Hawaii. And I looked at the licensing process there and it was pretty simple compared to a lot of other places. And it wasn’t hard for me to get a license there. So I just went ahead and applied for it. A lot of military families end up there too and I do work with clients with TRICARE, so it’s been an easy kind of referral source too. And I know I have some clients that are located in Hawaii currently, that will eventually be relocating there, too. So it just helps to create continuity with military families who, every three, four, five years they’re moving, and then they have to give up their therapist because they’re going somewhere else. And if they’re going to Colorado, and they’re working with me, they don’t have to now.

[JOE]:
So how does that work if, say, you’re working with someone in Hawaii, and then they permanently move to a state you’re not licensed? Do you right now have to just give them up? Or are you planning to kind of work with those states to try to get licensed in those states? Or how do you sort through that?

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah. So that’s a good question. It really depends. I do have several clients who are going to be relocating in the next few months, and I’ve looked at some of the states, and if it’s going to be a huge hassle or a lot of money for adding a new license, it’s not something that I’m looking to take on right now. And so I will help with transitioning them to a therapist in that area who, either if they want to continue working online with somebody that they can do that there, or somebody that’s located specifically in their area. We will be relocating next year as well, and so there are some states that we know, okay, well, there’s a chance we could be ending up there anyway. So I’ve considered looking at some of those additional licenses. But yeah, so far, it’s been an easy transition, being able to help clients find somebody that if I can’t continue working with them, that it’s been an easy transition for them to continue to see somebody online, which is a big draw for them.

[JOE]:
Yeah. I’ve heard from Facebook groups – which is not an authoritative source, so that’s why I’m asking you – that sometimes, especially military families, that states will make some exceptions for either people moving or for someone like yourself, that’s licensed. Have you experienced any of that, where that does happen, or can you verify the Facebook group authority?

[ASHLEY]:
Yes. So it is, you’re right. The authority can be a little confusing sometimes. So like, for instance, when we moved to Hawaii, I was able to get my license expedited because I was moving there on military orders. And so really all that meant was that they put my application towards the top of the list and so it got through a little bit quicker. Now, if I was just wanting to get licensed in Colorado, which we weren’t moving there, I wouldn’t necessarily have preferential treatment, getting it through any quicker. So it really has to do more so, like, if you’re relocating, there are a lot of states now that have initiatives to try and help get military spouses their applications through quicker because it can, it can really limit your ability to have work if you aren’t licensed. I think in Colorado, I think just recently, they did pass something that if you are a military spouse, and you’re moving there, that you don’t have to pay the fee and you’re able to start working and be able to see clients pretty much right away, that you don’t have to wait and go through the whole processing. So there’s been a lot of movement to try to get some kind of reciprocity if you really want to call it that, or just helping those that are military families get licenses quicker, not just with counseling. But it really can disrupt the family because of the lack of having a second income and the inability to work if you’re not licensed in the state.

[JOE]:
Yeah. Now I know traditionally when you think about a website, you know, like, I’m here in Traverse City, Michigan. So when I had my counseling practice, I would focus my keywords on Traverse City Counseling, Traverse City Therapy, Traverse City Marriage Therapy. Now, when you’re doing an entire state, or multiple states, that seems like that could get more complex. So just from a marketing standpoint, what have you done with your website, your social media, to be able to market to three different states, make sure that people know that you’re online? How do you do all that side of it?

[ASHLEY]:
So my website, ashleycomegys.com, if you go there it is very clear off the bat that it is online. It’s online therapy for women with anxiety. So there’s that piece that from the get-go if anybody goes to the website, it should be very clear then that they’re coming to me for online therapy. So there’s that part of it. And then the other piece, too, is learning how do you use SEO strategies to get things to target to specific locations. So having a page that is specific to a state, and using keywords on that page that are specific to locations. So, for instance, I have a page for Colorado and I’ll use locate words that are specific, especially around the Colorado Springs area, because there’s a large military presence there. And so it’s an easy draw to get clients. Louisiana, I’ll target specific keywords for New Orleans area, or Metairie area, which is where I have my virtual address located. So that also is another marketing piece that helps, using the Google algorithm to draw people in. And then I even have some smaller pages too that are town specific, that are kind of hidden. But if somebody were to type in ‘online therapy New Orleans’ they might get to that page and can get to the rest of the website too. So you do have to be a little bit more strategic when you are creating your website, but it’s definitely doable.

The other thing that’s definitely a really big help with marketing is having a Google business page. And I think a lot of times people think, oh, well, if you have an online practice, you can’t have that. I have a virtual address in Hawaii, and I have a UPS box address in New Orleans. And I have a Google business page for both of those. So if someone does look me up, or look up therapists in Mililani, Hawaii, or counseling In Metairie, Louisiana, it does come up using Google. And so then that helps drive traffic also to the website, to the Google business page. So there are ways to utilize these tools that you normally would in a brick-and-mortar office. It just takes a little bit of creativity, but the same strategies can apply. We just have to, again, look at it a little differently and just figure out what is the best way to get traffic to you for those specific locations.

[JOE]:
That’s awesome. And so the UPS box, do you just then have that forwarded somewhere? Or how does that work?

[ASHLEY]:
So the UPS box is where I’m physically located and it’s an actual address. So it’s not like a PO box or anything like that. I can go and pick up my mail. It’s really close to my house, and then it gives me an actual address. So I do take insurance, and I just have my mailing address as that address, for the UPS box. So all my mail gets forwarded there. And then the virtual address is just more so for like the location practice address that I have listed for Hawaii.

[JOE]:
How do you get a virtual address?

[ASHLEY]:
That’s a good question. So if you google virtual address, you’ll find a lot of different companies that provide these kinds of services. The one I use is iPostal. And what a virtual address does is it gives you a physical address, but depending on the service, it can also give you where they’ll send you your mail, they’ll scan it and say, do you want this? You have a piece of mail, do you want it shredded? Do you want us to forward it to you? I have seen some that even are a little bit fancier. And so it may be you have a virtual address but if you wanted to come and do work in, like, a shared, co-op space, you have access to that, or access to phone lines, that kind of thing. But for ten bucks a month, I have an address located in Hawaii that helps me with drawing traffic to my website and getting the clients.

[JOE]:
Wow. So how many… sorry, I’m asking because we’re about to hit the road and go on this potentially year-long road trip, living out of national parks.

[ASHLEY]:
Oh, wow.

[JOE]:
And so, I mean, that’s one of the things, like, we’re figuring out internet and all that. But so how many pieces of mail will they go through for that ten bucks a month?

[ASHLEY]:
So because I have all my mail sent to my address in New Orleans, where I’m located, like, maybe once every quarter I’ll get a piece of mail.

[JOE]:
Gotcha, okay.

[ASHLEY]:
And it’s one that I’m like, I don’t need that, so you could throw it away. So it doesn’t charge me anything for it.

[JOE]:
Okay, gotcha. So what about networking? I feel like, you know, before COVID the advice was go on coffee dates with people, talk with them about their practice, do things in person. How does virtual networking…? I mean, now the world is online so that’s kind of normal. But before that, or even after people get back to more in-person, how does virtual networking work with an online practice?

[ASHLEY]:
So it works very similarly to the way that it does with an in-person practice. Doing coffee dates with people who you find through social media networks, or even if it’s, like, let’s say there’s a doctor in the area, or somewhere else in the state. In Louisiana, we have a lot of rural areas that just don’t have providers and so reaching out to a provider there and saying, hey, I would love to do like a lunch and learn for your office, or I would love to get on a phone call with your office manager to just kind of introduce myself and see how I might be able to help support your clients, or your patients. That can be a really great way of connecting.

One of the things that I have done is through certain social media channels, I’ve targeted people who might be a really good referral source for me. So I specifically work with women with anxiety. And I’m now in the process of getting certified for peri mental health disorders, mood and anxiety disorders. And so, like, connecting with doulas, or connecting with birth centers, or with lactation consultants, and you can find them easily through Instagram or Facebook, and reaching out to them and say, hey, would you want to jump on a Zoom coffee date? You can still have coffee dates, they just look a little different. And so I’m able to connect with people who aren’t just in my community, but that are across the state, or really across the world if I’m licensed in another place.

The other thing too that I think a lot of times people think with online therapy, it opens up this whole world of we’ll now have access to the whole state, which is very, very true. But you can end up kind of talking to everyone and then talking to no one. So I think building the relationship with the referral sources that are right in your area is still really, really important. So you know if you know of referral sources that are other clinicians or, like I said, other providers that would be good referral sources, good networking connections that are in your area, you can still grab a coffee chat in person if you’re socially distancing, or even on Zoom because that helps to build your relatability and your… what’s the word? People get to know you in the community because they start hearing oh, yeah, Ashley’s online. And that might be a really good provider to send some of our clients too, because they can’t get to an office for XYZ, or they struggle with anxiety and this might be a really good fit for them. So it doesn’t have to just be well, now I have to go talk to everybody. No, you can still focus in your community and build up your referral sources there before you have to start expanding everywhere.

[JOE]:
Yeah, yeah. Now, before COVID, how – if people called you or contacted you and wanted the sales pitch around online counseling – what were some of the features or benefits that you would articulate to them as to why online counseling might be a better fit than in-person counseling?

[ASHLEY]:
Well, so one of the big things is just the convenience of it. So a lot of times, one of the things with going to therapy is okay, there’s the time to drive there, and then you have to park and drive home. And so it’s not just an hour session, it ends up being, depending on how far you have to travel for your therapist, it can end up being a couple of hours when it all adds up. And so with online therapy, the convenience is that you can meet with your therapist wherever you are. And so I’ve had people who take their lunch break at work, and they sit in their car and they meet with me and so their night is still free. Or they’re wanting to meet at a little bit later time in the day where maybe it wouldn’t be safe to go travel somewhere else. But they can still have their appointment and not have to then be getting home at nine-thirty at night because they had an hour drive or a half-hour drive to and from their appointment. I work with a lot of women, a lot of moms, and so the convenience also of I don’t have to have childcare, I don’t have to spend the money for a babysitter for me to go do something to take care of my mental and emotional health. I can do it over nap time, I can do it when my partner is home and able to watch the kids and have this time to take care of myself.

So that has been… that, before COVID, was a really big draw for people. And I’ve had people reach out to me, saying, oh, I was hoping to see somebody in person, but let’s give it a try, and they end up really liking it for the convenience, for the fact that they can be in their own space. They might find that their room is kind of their comfy place. That’s their safe space. And it actually can help allow, like, almost a greater sense of connection, because they’re not feeling uneasy of going into somebody’s office, they’re already kind of in their space, in their place that they’re a little bit more vulnerable because they’re not having to leave their house to go somewhere else.

[JOE]:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, even for us just our marriage therapy that we do, to have our girls be able to just play downstairs and be quiet for an hour, and they know, like, don’t interrupt unless someone’s bleeding. And I think they’ve only interrupted once or twice and then we’ve had the conversation about how that’s not… like, getting more goldfish is not an emergency. You’re fully capable of pushing a chair over there and getting your own goldfish. But, you know, I was kind of apprehensive of it. Even though I had done some online therapy, either as a therapist or as a client. But man, to not have to drive across town, and find parking, and find a sitter, and all of that. I mean, I don’t know if I’m gonna go back to in-person.

[ASHLEY]:
Right. No, and it can be a huge barrier for people. So like in Hawaii, especially, you’re limited with what’s available either on island or in your area. And like, you may not think of it but on Oahu, you can drive an hour and a half one way because of traffic. And so for a lot of clients, they’re like, I can’t do that, so they don’t need to do that.

[JOE]:
And what if they’re on one of the other islands and they don’t like all the therapists there?

[ASHLEY]:
Or there are just not therapists available there. That’s the same thing even in Louisiana, we have a lot of rural communities here. And I’ve had clients who, if they were going to see somebody in person, they would have to drive two hours one way to be able to see a therapist. But online, they can do it from home and they can see somebody who is two hours away, but it’s not just who they’re forced to see. I can find the right therapist, that’s a good fit for me, that provides the kind of therapy services that I need, and that I’m looking for. And it’s not just a matter of well, this is the only person in my community.

[JOE]:
Yeah, you know, I think this is so timely because initially when COVID and lockdown and pandemic, all that kind of hit, people were scrambling to just temporarily be online therapists.

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah.

[JOE]:
They kind of had the mindset of, okay, if I can get through this, then by summer, I’ll be back to normal. And who knows if it’ll ever feel normal again. But now I think people are kind of thinking, well, what if this was my business model? Or what if this was a significant portion of my business model? Even as a therapist, thinking about, if you jumped on three sessions in a row, and you knew all you had to do was turn your computer on versus, you know, head on out to the office and all of that too, I mean, you’re saving your own self so much time too.

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah.

[JOE]:
So I want to just kind of, as we land this interview, go through any just quick-hit advice – things that we may have missed, or like, here’s just a couple more bullet points in regards to online counseling that you feel are essential that maybe we haven’t hit on yet. So what other advice would you have?

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah, so I think you raise a really good point, Joe, in that I think a lot of us thought, okay, like, we’re all home now for a couple weeks and within a month, we’ll be back to “normal”, and clearly that’s not where we’re at. And so I think, even if a therapist is saying, I don’t want to stay online forever, that this is an opportunity to look at how can I still continue to have this as part of my practice model? Because you may have clients who, even if you’re ready to see clients in-person, kind of like you were saying, like, I don’t know if I want to go back to having to drive to an office for marriage counseling, you may have clients that still want to do it online. So I do think every therapist should be considering, even if you are saying, I still want to go back to face-to-face eventually, how can I incorporate online therapy in my practice?

But I want to specifically focus on moms because I really feel like online therapy is a really good business model for mom clinicians. And I really think that they should consider staying online after COVID is over. Obviously, anybody can do online therapy. And if it works for dads too, that’s great, but I’m really passionate about working with moms, because I think the reality is, a lot of times the childcare does fall to moms, good or bad. And we’ve seen that with COVID, that a lot of moms are having to sacrifice schedules or be the ones to stay at home or say okay, well, I’ll work a little less, for a variety of reasons. But one of the reasons that online therapy, I think, is such a great thing for moms is it allows time, freedom, and flexibility that a lot of other jobs, and even like traditional private practice in an office, don’t allow, for the exact reasons that you were saying. When I was in a brick and mortar office, I had a half-hour drive each way to my office, on top of twenty minutes to pack up my stuff, get my lunch ready, take it with me to get out the door, which adds up time away from my family.

[JOE]:
Let me just say there, not packing up a lunch, like, just that alone with now working from home, to just go down and make the lunch.

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah.

[JOE]:
I didn’t realize how much I hated packing my lunch.

[ASHLEY]:
Right, right, right. And it’s little things like that, that you don’t think about, that add up. Whereas we’ve piecemealed things together during this time, and we had a babysitter for a little while that would stay home with my son while I would work. And I could just go downstairs and I could eat lunch with him and then I could come back up to my office. And it was twenty minutes, thirty minutes out of my day that I got to still have that time with him, but then I could go back into my clinician role. And not have to feel like, oh, it’s gonna be forever till I’m back home with my family. I’m still here. But I’m getting to be in a different role separate from having to just be in that mom role. And I think that that’s another piece that’s really important for women, and for moms to just kind of consider that, you know, for me, when we were moving back to Louisiana, there was a part of me that was like, am I ever going to have a career again? Every three to four years moving, like, what does this mean for me? But having my own private practice that is all online, that I’ve made this myself, has given me you know, so much more career fulfillment and purpose that I can say, like, I’ve done this, and I can do this regardless of where we’re living, regardless of where we are in our family situation. I can see a client at night if I want to. I can see a client on the weekends if I want to. I don’t have to be constrained to well, my office is only open at these times. Or I share an office with somebody else and I can’t get in there. I get to make my schedule. I get to be here for my family and say, nope, today I’m not going to see clients because I want to go into an event at my kids’ school. And I can see them another day or not at all if I don’t want to that week.

[JOE]:
So awesome. Well, the last question that I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, Ashley, what would you want them to know?

[ASHLEY]:
So I think like you said, it’s very timely right now – everybody is kind of online. And I think before COVID, a lot of people had this idea that, oh, it’s too scary. It’s too hard. There’s too many ‘what ifs’. And I think a lot of people are seeing that it’s not as scary as you think, that it’s not as hard to work with clients online as you think. And so to kind of piggyback off of that, I would want them to know that even as things continue to evolve and change with COVID, and regulations continue to change and shift, that we don’t have to fear that okay, once stuff is lifted, once things are “normal” again, that I can’t practice online. There are ways to do this that still provide a really good income, that provides you that freedom and flexibility, and it’s not as hard as you think.

[JOE]:
I know you put together a free guide called The ABCs of Online Therapy: A quick start guide for mom clinicians to take their practice online. Tell us a little bit about that and then how people can access that.

[ASHLEY]:
Yeah, so one of the things I think a lot of… a lot of times the questions I get is, where do I start? How do I figure this all out? Because it can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re starting an in-person practice or online, it can feel overwhelming. And I think because online practice is the new kid on the block, so to speak, people are kind of like, oh, I really don’t know what to do. And so I created just this quickstart guide that is a really easy tool to go through and help you to think through, okay, these are the key pieces that I need to get my practice up and running. I’ve put in ABC, actually A through Z, of different terms, and resources, and tools to help you identify what are the things I need, and what are the things I want in my practice? And then also as a mom to figure out when am I going to get this done? So to think through your schedule, where are the times that you can build this during nap time or after bedtime? And so it’s just a great tool to kind of help get you started. And anybody can download it at bit.ly/momABCguide.

[JOE]:
Awesome. And Ashley, if people want to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to follow your work?

[ASHLEY]:
So if you’re looking for counseling work, it’s ashleycomegys.com. And then you can also join our Facebook group that is specifically for moms building online practices. If you look on Facebook under ‘Raise to Empower’ or ‘moms building online therapy practices with Ashley Comegys’, we would love to have you as part of our group there.

[JOE]:
Awesome. And we will put all of that in the show notes. Ashley, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.

[ASHLEY]:
Thanks for having me, Joe.

________________________________________

[JOE]:
So if you weren’t doing online therapy, 2020 kind of made you do it, or your business probably just failed, hopefully, this helps you think about this beyond online therapy just for a pandemic, beyond just online therapy because it’s kind of the thing right now. I want you to think through this as a potential arm of your business, to just have a day a week you don’t have to go into an office, to be able to travel and continue doing therapy. I remember I was talking to Clay Cockrell, who owns onlinecounseling.com, and talking about how he can go on trips to Mexico or other places – he has this place in Mexico he goes to quite often – and how he can still do his counseling. One of our friends came up here and visited and she continued to do her therapy, and then we’d hang out kind of in the mornings or in the afternoon when she wasn’t doing therapy. It just gives you a different pace that you can do. So make sure you implement some of these things, grab that ABCs of online therapy quickstart guide from Ashley. Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain.

In the next episode, we’re going to be talking about collaborative divorce. And it’s with an attorney named Randy Pitler, and he’s going to walk us through what that looks like and kind of the opportunity for counselors and therapists within the collaborative divorce community. So check that out. That’s going to be coming out next Tuesday. And I’ll talk to you then. See ya. Oh, Practice Solutions, our sponsor, how did I forget? Practice Solutions is amazing. They help you with your billing and you only pay if they collect. So they have an incentive to do follow up calls and make sure you get collections for the money that insurance owes you. Insurance intentionally tries to not pay you. And so head on over to practicesol.com and they will get you hooked up and it will be fast, or if you want to have help getting credentialed, they can do that as well. So head on over to practicesol.com and meet with the team. They are amazing. Talk to you soon.

Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music; we really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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