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October 20, 2023

Anne Rice, LPC, LMHC, CPCS

Navigating a therapy practice can often feel overwhelming, with countless administrative tasks stealing your focus away from where it truly belongs - your clients.

Trust me, I've been there, trying to balance never-ending notes while being committed to delivering top-notch care. I always tried to set aside an “admin day” only to discover it usually got filled up with rescheduled clients. Notes, would just not get done and potential clients would fall through the cracks because it took me too long to get back to them. 

I used to think I couldn’t afford to have a virtual assistant but now I realize, I can’t afford not to. 

This article is here to help you discover how a virtual assistant can be the anchor in your therapy practice, managing tasks and freeing up more precious time for client engagement.

Ready for a much-deserved boost in efficiency? Let's delve right in.

Key Takeaways

  • Virtual assistants save time in your therapy practice. They handle tasks like email and calendar management.
  • Clients get better care when a virtual assistant is on the team. Assistants can answer calls and emails quickly, making wait times shorter for clients.
  • Having a virtual assistant can be affordable. You only pay them for the hours they work.
  • Find good virtual assistants from professional sites or by asking colleagues. There are VAs that work specifically with therapists. Make sure to ask key questions during interviews before hiring one.
  • Start by delegating small tasks to build trust and to get used to letting go.

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant for Your Therapy Practice

By bringing a virtual assistant into your therapy practice, you can reap numerous benefits such as saving precious time and enhancing overall efficiency.

Save time and increase efficiency

A virtual assistant can help you save a lot of time and as therapists, our time is incredibly valuable. These tasks may include managing your calendar, answering emails and calls, writing newsletters, social posts, and researching referral sources.

A good virtual assistant makes the work go faster by keeping everything in order. You get to invest more time in meeting your clients' needs or growing your practice further instead of on admin work.

Your daily tasks flow smoothly with their help which boosts how well you perform at work. So, having a virtual assistant not only saves you time but also improves how efficiently your therapy practice runs.

Provide better client experience

With a virtual assistant on your team, clients get better care. It took me a long time to believe this. I kept feeling like I was the only person who could talk to potential clients and provide them with the experience I felt they deserved. But with the right assistant, my clients end up getting better care because someone is able to reach out to them immediately. The assistant can answer phone calls and emails quickly. This means less wait time for your clients.

A virtual assistant helps in making your therapy practice smooth for everyone. They can make sure that all client files are up-to-date and easy to read. I recently had mine go through all my clients and see if anyone needed anything updated. That would have taken up so much of my time but instead, I got to focus on other projects while my VA made me a beautifully organized spreadsheet. 

Using a virtual assistant makes things easier for both you and your clients.

Support for one-time tasks

Using a virtual assistant for one-time tasks or projects can be a wonderful way to get started with a virtual assistant. If you want to switch practice management systems, have a VA do it. You could also use them to help you update your email list or reach out to community partners. A lot of VAs have project-based, one-time pricing if you aren't sure you are ready to fully commit to an assistant. 

How to Hire and Manage a Virtual Assistant

Starting the hiring process for a virtual assistant involves identifying the key characteristics that align with your therapy practice's needs. This might include organizational skills, attention to detail, and experience with healthcare privacy laws. If you work with families or couples, it might be important they understand the nuances and differences when multiple people are involved in therapy. There are many virtual assistant agencies that specialize in working with therapists, and those are a good place to start. Check out Productive Therapist for some therapist-specific VAs. You could also find someone independent and provide them with training. Ensure you conduct a thorough interview process to assess their compatibility with your needs.

Once you've hired your virtual assistant, clear and consistent communication is crucial in setting expectations for their role within your practice. You should clearly define tasks they're responsible for - perhaps managing appointments or handling client communications - while also building trust through open dialogue about performance and progress.

Consider making use of systems like project management software to streamline work processes and ensure all procedures are well-documented; this documentation can then serve as a reference point for both parties when needed. I use Google Docs and Sheets to communicate quickly and easily with my VA. 

Don't shy away from giving feedback; constructive criticism aids improvement and fosters professional growth. Lastly, it's important to know when it might be time to let go if performance isn't meeting set standards! It’s part of maintaining an efficient operation that best serves your clients’ needs.

Ideal characteristics to look for

You want a virtual assistant who is prompt and reliable. They should have good skills in managing tasks like emails, voicemails, and calendars. It's also key that they can work with therapy practice systems.

You need someone who pays close attention to detail since they will handle sensitive client data and need to know HIPAA rules. And this may seem obvious, but make sure your VA is at least somewhat tech-savvy! I made that mistake with an earlier virtual assistant who was never able to figure out how to get into my email. They of course did not last long.

You also want someone empathetic. They need to know how to respond with care and concern to our clients because most likely someone is calling because things aren’t going well. With these qualities, you're set for a smooth run with your virtual assistant in your therapy practice!

Setting expectations and communication channels

This may seem obvious but, I tell my virtual assistant what I need at the beginning of every week and before the weekend. It took me a while to add on tasks outside of just checking email. I felt nervous about it but she would hear other things I was doing, like dealing with billing issues, and remind me she was there to take those things off my plate. 

It is also good to talk about how you prefer to communicate. Some like email or text messages while others prefer phone calls or video meetings.

Clear talks from the start form a strong work bond which is helpful when working with someone who is going to be supporting you. And then my clients get better services too! So, setting clear goals and how to communicate is key when working with a virtual assistant in a therapy practice.

Delegating tasks and building trust

Delegating is so hard. My Efficient Clinician Club walks you through how to delegate. But in short, give tasks to your virtual assistant that take up your time. These may be tasks like scheduling, answering emails, or handling paperwork. Be clear about what you want them to do. I’ve started having my VA help me with newsletters, social media posts (she’s younger and much faster than I am with Instagram), and maintenance with my electronic health record system. If you’re having a hard time letting go, start with small specific tasks and then build up to bigger things.

Utilizing systems and documenting procedures

To run a smooth therapy practice, using systems is key. A virtual assistant can set up online calendars and handle email systems for you. With their help, scheduling and sending emails becomes easy.

One crucial tip is writing down the steps of each task or recording yourself doing it on the computer. This provides a clear guide on how to do things right. Then, if you switch admins or need additional help, all of your processes are right there. Recording phone calls or meetings will also be helpful for future uses.

Conclusion

A virtual assistant can be truly transformative for your practice and your life. Outsourcing tasks can not only improve your work-life balance but also contribute to the growth and success of your practice. We work in a delicate field and our clients deserve the best care and concern. An empathetic and responsive virtual assistant can make all the difference between your practice and someone else’s. 

Check out The Efficient Clinician Club for more resources on how to streamline your practice.

About the Author

Anne is a therapist, group practice owner, and business coach. She got her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Princeton University and her graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.

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