Dr. Jeremy Sharp on How to Add a Psychologist to Your Practice | FP 75

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What are the benefits of having a psychologist in your group practice? How can you train your admin staff to work well alongside the different schedules of your psychologist? What are some tips for onboarding your new psychologist?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Dr. Jeremy Sharp on how to add a psychologist to your practice.

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Meet Dr. Jeremy Sharp

Dr. Jeremy Sharp is a licensed psychologist and Director at the Colorado Center for Assessment & Counseling, a private practice that he founded in 2009 and has grown to about 20 clinicians and staff. He earned his undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina before getting his Master’s and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Colorado State University. These days, he specializes in psychological and neuropsychological evaluations with kids and adolescents.

As the host of the Testing Psychologist Podcast, he provides private practice consulting for psychologists and other mental health professionals who want to start or grow psychological testing services in their practices.

He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife (also a therapist) and two kids.

Visit his website and connect on Facebook.

In This Podcast

  • Scheduling and billing a psychologist in your practice
  • Things to be aware of when adding a psychologist to your practice
  • Onboarding your new psychologist and marketing

Scheduling and billing a psychologist in your practice

If psychologists are doing therapy, no problem, it’s the same but testing complicates things a little bit both with the scheduling and the billing … if you are thinking of bringing on a psychologist, are you ready to make some adjustments to the way that you do scheduling and are you ready to train your admin staff to do things a little differently? (Dr. Jeremy Sharp)

In terms of training admin and having psychologists on staff, it is different because:

  • You need to spend a bit more time on the phone with potential clients to explain what they will get out of the testing upfront.
  • What the testing is about and what to expect.
  • There is a different scheduling flow throughout the evaluation. These scheduling appointments run in different time blocks, some an hour long and some even six hours.

In terms of payment, Dr. Sharp pays them per billed hour as recorded in their EHR.

Things to be aware of when adding a psychologist to your practice

Ask yourself: why?

Once you answer that question, you have to ask yourself what kind of psychologist would you want and what this means. What kind of testing would you like to have done in your practice?

There are a huge number of specialties even within testing, so that’s the first thing, try to get really clear on what kind of testing you want to bring into your practice and usually that is driven by the clientele that you are seeing. (Dr. Jeremy Sharp)

If your practice deals mostly with children and teenagers, then you could hire a psychologist that tests for ADHD, autism, and learning disorders. If your practice deals with married couples and adults, then you could consider hiring a psychologist that tests for personality concerns or adult ADHD.

The interview:

A big part of our interview process with psychologists is reviewing their evaluation reports and doing some conceptualization around how they would assess for certain concerns and how do they synthesize that data. (Dr. Jeremy Sharp)

If you have someone in your network, consider connecting with a fellow seasoned therapist or psychologist friend who can help you to understand how you can best interview a potential psychologist with these aspects in mind.

  • Ask how candidates for the psychologist post do with their timeline and getting their paperwork done.
  • Check their references and cross-examine what their references say with regards to how they explain their time management, in terms of handing in reports and how long their report-turnaround is.

Onboarding your new psychologist and marketing

If you only have one psychologist doing testing in your practice it is really easy for them to become isolated so I would support them or encourage them to find consultation group of some sort so that they feel a little bit more connected to other folks doing testing, even if it’s not within your practice. (Dr. Jeremy Sharp)

  • You may need to acquaint your admin staff with your psychologist since they will be spending time together to schedule clients into all the different time blocks that the psychologist has available.
  • Polish up the script that your admin staff will use when selling testing over the phone to potential customers. Make sure that it explains the processes fully and clearly, detailing all the services that are offered and how the testing setup is structured.
  • On your group practice’s website, you can create pages that are dedicated to the testing that is done at your practice so that you can really showcase it as an available service.

Books mentioned in this episode

Ian Crohn – The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

Useful Links:

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]: Is managing your practice stressing you out? Try Therapy Notes. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. Check it out and you will quickly see why it’s the highest rated EHR on Trustpilot with over a thousand verified customer views and an average customer rating of 4.9 out of five stars. You’ll notice the difference from the first day you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support seven days a week so when you have questions, you can quickly reach out to someone who can help. You are never wasting your time looking for answers. If you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your clients’ demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE] to get three free months of trying out Therapy Notes for free, no strings attached, including their very reliable tele-health platform. Make 2021 best year yet with Therapy Notes.
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. .
There’s nothing better than a good book recommendation and as practice owners, we always need to be looking for books not only to help us in our practice, but honestly, to help us personally, our own soul care. And maybe sometimes the fun book. One of the things that I like to do is I always have a fun book or some kind of fiction. It could be nonfiction, but like a good story that I’m diving into on a regular basis. And then along with that, I always have another book that’s a little bit more on the educational side or maybe the spiritual side when I’m working on my own spiritual or personal development. And so recently I have been reading The Road Back to You by Ian Cron. Now, as you may have known, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for any time, I am an Enneagram enthusiast. It has totally changed the way that I understand myself, my marriage, my work relationships, and I honestly thought I had a pretty good handle on the Enneagram, but now I’m learning there’s just more and more to learn all different ways to express it and say it.
And so when I saw Ian Cron’s book, everyone’s recommended it to me for a long time, The Road Back to You, and I was like, “Ah he’s probably not going to say anything I don’t already know. I’ve learned about the Enneagram for a while now, yada, yada.” But honestly I picked up that book. It’s the easiest read, t’s humorous, it’s insightful and made me think of so many people I know as I was reading it or myself as I was reading it. So I want to encourage you. If you don’t know anything about the Enneagram or maybe you do know about it, and you want to learn more reading The Road Back to You is a fantastic starter book, or even a little bit more intermediate level book that you can read to grow your understanding of the Enneagram.
So there’s your book recommendation for today?
I’m excited about this episode because I interviewed testing psychologists had Dr. Jeremy Sharp. Well, I’m excited because I like talking to him. He’s just a fun person to talk to, but I think there’s such a need for psychology in our practices and in our communities and he has a wealth of knowledge to bring to the table on that. So in today’s interview, I talked to him about how to add a psychologist to your practice, what are some of the details as far as the job interview job description, but also some of the billing and the marketing behind that. So let’s jump right into the episode with the testing psychologist, Dr. Jeremy Sharp.
Today on the Faith in Practice podcast, I have Dr. Jeremy Sharp. He’s a licensed psychologist and director at the Colorado Center for Assessment & Counseling, a private practice that he founded in 2009 and has grown to about 20 clinicians and staff. He earned his undergraduate degree in experimental psychology from the university of South Carolina while getting his master’s and PhD in counseling psychology from Colorado state University. These days, he specializes in psychological or neuropsychological evaluations with kids and adolescents. As the host of the Testing Psychologist Podcast, Dr. Sharp provides private practice consulting for psychologists and other mental health professionals who want to grow or start a psychological testing service in their practice. Jeremy lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with his wife, also a therapist and two kids. Thanks for coming on the show.
[DR. JEREMY SHA…: Yes. Thanks for having me, Whitney. I’m excited to talk to you.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So first I’m going to start, there’s so many things I could say, because I love your bio. We have a lot of little things in common, but what’s it like being married to a therapist?
[DR. JEREMY]: What is it like? I just immediately was like, “What can I say here that will not get me in trouble with my therapist wife?” You know, everybody always assumes ,they hear that and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, you almost have a fantastic relationship,” which we do, but it’s not conflict-free. And I think that’s the implicit assumption there; is that we don’t have conflict or something or know how to work through our stuff. And I always joke around that. We do okay working through conflict, but we just have a much better understanding of each other’s processes and emotions and that can sometimes turn against us because we know too much. But yes, ultimately it’s great. It’s awesome to be able to come home at the end of the day and talk to somebody who really truly understands what I do and vice versa. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. It’s funny, you know, my husband is a pastor and so people are always really interested. What does a therapist and a pastor talk about at home at night? I’m like, we talk about getting kids to bed and getting them fed and what TV show we’re going to watch next on Netflix.
[DR. JEREMY]: Exactly.
[WHITNEY]: But yes, we do have other interesting conversations, but yes.
[DR. JEREMY]: Sure.
[WHITNEY]: Cool. And does your wife work with you at the private practice?
[DR. JEREMY]: No, she does not. So she has a very different view of mental health and really of the world than I do, which makes for interesting conversation, like you said, but yes, our practice, I think we have, like, you alluded to a lot of psychologists, we do a lot of testing. I think it veers toward more of a, maybe a medical model of mental health treatment, whereas she comes at it from a very spiritual perspective and you know, she does a lot of kind of depth based therapy. She’s really big on groups and the power of connecting people to one another. Not to say, I don’t believe in those things, but our practices are just very different. So our branding is very different and just the vibe I think, and our businesses is different.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and we all know how important it is that you know what your brand and niche and kind of what your offering is. And so you don’t want to like intermix things that don’t really work together.
[DR. JEREMY]: Exactly. Exactly. Yes.
[WHITNEY]: Well, great. Well, why don’t you share with the audience a little bit about yourself and kind of your practice there in Colorado?
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes, sure. So I started my practice in 2009 kind of straight out of grad school. My wife was employed here in town and we knew we wanted to stay here but there weren’t many jobs for a PhD level psychologist. I applied to a bunch, like to think I was just way overqualified and that’s why I didn’t get them but ultimately I started my practice, as I said, out of necessity, because I didn’t really have anything else to do. So that was 2009 and testing was always a part of the practice. So it was a big part of my training in grad school and something that I loved. And I found out pretty quickly that there was quite a market for psych testing here in town and really ran with that. So I started out by employing grad students as assistants in the practice or technicians with the testing and then kind of graduated to a post-doc and then another post-doc and then in 2014 is when we really deliberately started to grow.
So that’s when I discovered you Joe, through Practice of the Practice, did some business coaching, set up a vision for practice growth and yes, since then we’ve just kind of grown steadily up to the point that we’re at now. So we have, like I said, about 20 people. We’re probably half and half in terms of psychologists who just do testing versus therapists who see kids, families, adults across the lifespan.
[WHITNEY]: Well, I’m so glad you have both because, like you get that testing and then they want someone who understands them and they can work with them. So it’s great that you kind of have everything in house there for people.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes. Yes. I mean, that’s really why I started to hire therapist is because we are doing all these evaluations and then just referring them out to the community and the therapists were full. And so finally just said, “Hey, we got to bring this in-house and just let people stay here,” because that’s what they ultimately wanted to do most of the time; is just to transition smoothly from one service to another, within the same practice.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. So today we’re going to talk about the, kind of, how to add psychologists to your practice and get ready because I have lots of questions on this. I think it’s so interesting and I have a lot of consulting people who either are psychologists that come to me wanting to grow their practice or people who are considering adding. So tell me first, when you add a psychologist to your practice, how do you do the scheduling and billing? Like that seems really complicated to me when you’ve got therapists as well. Am I on track here?
[DR. JEREMY]: Ys. Yes, for sure. So I guess for the sake of our discussion, we’re just going to equate psychologists with testing. Is that fair?
[DR. JEREMY]: Okay. So if psychologists are doing therapy, no problem. Same, it’s the same, but as any master’s level person, but yet testing complicates things a little bit both in, you nailed it with scheduling and with billing. And so that’s actually one of the first things that I talk with practice owners about if they’re thinking about bringing on a psychologist; is, “Are you ready to make some adjustments to the way that you do scheduling and are you ready to train your admin staff to do things differently?” Because testing is not like a one hour a week for 12 weeks in a row kind of scheduling. It’s more time on the phone upfront because you have to explain the process in greater detail and people have a lot of questions about testing and what they’re going to get out of it and what it’s about and what to expect.
So it’s more time upfront on that initial call, but then it’s a different scheduling flow throughout the evaluation. So we start with an intake which might be an hour, it might be two hours, we then move to a testing day, which might be a six hour block. It might be two, four hour blocks, it might be three, five hour blocks, and then we do school observations for kids. So we’re scheduling those, outreaching to teachers, principals, school psychologists. We have a lot of collateral phone calls as part of the evaluation. So we’re like pulling in other professionals’ opinions and then finally we wrap it all up with a feedback session, which is an hour. So you can already see it, yes, there were a lot of little quirks to scheduling evaluations
[WHITNEY]: Certainly. And do you have 10909 or W2’s?
[DR. JEREMY]: They are W2’s.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and so how does that work with payment? Do you pay them per assessment or do you pay them for their time when they’re making all these calls? How do you handle that?
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes, so we pay per billed hour. Now the cool thing about testing that’s different than therapy is that you can bill for all of that collateral contact that’s wrapped into the testing CPT codes. So yes, we don’t have to find some weird work around or not pay them for that or whatever, like with therapy. It’s, yes, that’s all built in, so that’s nice. So I just go by billed hour as reported in our EHR.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. Well, I kind of jumped the gun and started asking questions. What would you say if somebody, or even how about myself? Let’s say I’m thinking about adding a psychologist and actually almost did a few years ago and then he ended up deciding he wanted to, he was working over at the military base here and he just kind of decided it was going to be too much to add in. But anyway, if I was going to bring a psychologist on what are some of the things that I need to be aware of?
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes, for sure. I think the first thing that you have to ask yourself is one, why? Okay, why do you want to bring on a psychologist? And once you answer that question I think you have to answer what kind of psychologist do you want. And when I say that, I mean, what kind of testing do you want in your practice? Because just like therapists we are a varied breed, so some of us specialize in kids, some of us specialize in autism assessments, some of us specialize in forensic testing, some of us specialize in adults cognitive decline and dementia. So, I mean, there are a huge number of specialties even within testing. So that’s the first thing I would say; is just try to get really clear on what kind of testing you want to bring into your practice. And usually that’s driven by the clientele that you’re seeing. So if you see a lot of kids then being able to assess for autism and ADHD and learning disorders, it’s going to probably be really good. But if you’re more of an adult or couples’ focused practice, you might want to find someone who can do more testing for personality concerns, or adult ADHD or adult autism, things like that. So really getting clear on what kind of testing you’re looking for.
[WHITNEY]: What do you see are the greatest needs for testing, like children, adults, or who do you intend up seeing the most?
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes, we, from folks that I’ve talked to and consult with as well, it seems like the pediatric assessment realm is the one. I mean, there’s so much demand for pediatric assessment. Most of it, well not almost, a lot of it is happening in children’s hospitals and they have crazy wait lists. So there’s a big market for private practitioners to bring in pediatric psychologist. So if you’re really trying to figure out where to start just based on kind of market research and demand, I think pediatric assessment is a good place to look. And even within that autism assessment is always needed.
[WHITNEY]: Definitely.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes.
[WHITNEY]: So, let’s say I’ve decided, because honestly that’s exactly what I wanted somebody for was for children because we would get so many calls looking for testing either for the schools or for them. It could be for college, we are really close to SCAD, which is the Savannah College of Art and Design. So then they need a test that they can get. Now I’m losing the word here, but basically an accommodation for their courses. So maybe you’ve decided kind of your need, your niche, what would you move forward with next?
[DR. JEREMY]: Well, yes. So then you want to design your job ad. So ads are different for psychologists and this is an often overlooked place. We have kind of our standard like therapist ad, you know you’re going to see X number of people and ta-ta-ta, if you’re a, like a non-psychologist or even a non-testing psychologist trying to recruit a testing psychologist I think it goes a long way to write an ad that really speaks to that person. So really nailing the language and being really clear about what you’re offering and what the expectations are. I think that’s many of us, many of our worst nightmares is like stepping into a practice where people don’t get what we do and having a lot of ambiguity and things not defined in terms of our job responsibilities and so forth.
So if you can write a really solid ad that says, “Hey, we’re a practice. We’re really interested in bringing on a psychologist. We have this thriving practice, we’re willing to support you, we’re going to provide time for report writing and,” you know, there’s language we could always get in the winds with, but making sure you write your ad very deliberately and it’s not just kind of a boiler plate clinician ad. That’s a great place to start.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, definitely.
[DR. JEREMY]: You also, of course you know this a practice owner, you want to think about how the billing is going to work and that’s going to drive your salary offer. So having that straightened out before you bring someone on is important. If you’re private pay, I think that’s a lot easier. Insurance billing for testing can be quite a learning curve in the beginning, especially. Now we take a lot of insurance on our practice and I’m pro insurance and pro testing through insurance. It is very doable and very profitable, but it is a learning curve for sure. So just making sure that like what your panels are going to reimburse for testing, look at those CPT codes and your fee schedule and be really clear about what you can offer a psychologist because they will probably ask about that [crosstalk].
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes, I think so. It depends on the market. Depends on the market. There’s plenty of private pay demand out there, especially in metropolitan areas of course, but because it’s a specialty service. This is something that not a lot of people do and not many people do well. So if you can build a reputation, people I think will pay for it.
[WHITNEY]: Actually, I’m surprised to hear that, which is funny because people are always surprised when I tell them that I’m a cash pay practice group, and they’re like, “What? People are paying cash for therapy? I’m like, “Yes.” But for some reason I’m surprised people are paying cash for testing, but you’re right. If someone has a good reputation in town and offer a good service, plus sometimes the wait lists are horrific for psychologists testing.
[DR. JEREMY]: Right. That’s exactly right. And if you are a cash pay testing practice, usually the waitlist is going to be a little shorter and that’s valuable to people.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, for sure.
[DR. JEREMY]: So yes, once you have all that nailed down and you know who you’re looking for and what you’re going to pay them and what their job would look like, so then you move on to the interview portion. And this is where things get interesting and where I think non-testing people get a little tripped up because a big part of our interview process with psychologists is reviewing their evaluation reports and doing some conceptualization around, like how would they assess for certain concerns and how do they synthesize that data? So this is where it gets a little tricky. And so if you aren’t familiar with testing I always recommend find a trusted colleague or a psychologist friend, or like somebody who knows that business who can help you review those applications and review those reports samples to know what you’re getting, because there’s a big variety of reports and reports styles, and so forth. You want to make sure —
[WHITNEY]: Sure. You should just hire a consultant.
[DR. JEREMY]: Well, I’m trying to dance around it. But yes. I mean, that’s a part of what I do, especially with group practice owners is helping kind of review those materials and provide that guidance. But yes, they can hire any consultant who knows testing. There are plenty of people out there, but that’s important and there’s a big range of report styles and you’ve got to think, “Is this good or not?” So we also, so throughout the interview process, one thing that I found is super important that you may not think about as much with therapy is just how people do with their timeline or how the candidates do with their getting their paperwork done. So we have this trap in testing where half of our hours are face-to-face and the other half of the billed hours, it’s basically just writing reports, like pulling the data together, writing up the results and creating this report that we deliver to families.
The trap with that is that it’s really easy to get behind and stack up your face to face hours and not leave enough time to write those reports. So you want to check references, you want to ask a lot of questions around time management and like what’s a reasonable time to get the report turned around. I can say just from research what we know two weeks is kind of the magic number. So if someone’s not willing to turn around a report within two weeks of the feedback session, that’s getting a little long. So keep that in mind, but you know, so there are just some little considerations with the interview that might be a bit different than a typical therapist interview to make sure you’re hiring the right person. Checking references is incredibly important as well, just to check in on those factors that I just mentioned
[WHITNEY]: Most definitely. I think a lot of people underestimate the value of the references and I’ll hear practice owners just, they do the interview, they like the person, they hire them and they don’t take that extra step or they only get one reference or, “Hey, this person knows a friend of mine.” It’s so important that you hear from someone who’s worked with them what that process was like.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. The times that I’ve gotten burned with hiring were times when I did not check references. So definitely recommend them. Let’s see, from there, let’s say you find your psychologist. That’s, which is fantastic, congratulations. So if you find a psychologist, then it’s a matter of onboarding them and getting your admin staff and your other staff acquainted with their services and how to integrate them into your practice. One thing right off the bat is just kind of being aware that if you only have one psychologist doing testing in your practice, that it’s really easy for them to be isolated. So I would support them or encourage them to find a consultation group of some sort, just so they feel a little more connected to other folks doing testing, even if it’s not within your practice. And that can help build their relationships around town as well. So there’s a kind of a double benefit there.
And then, yes, like I said, training your admin staff. So there are those scheduling pieces that I mentioned earlier working with the psychologist to determine what kind of scheduling flow they prefer. So we all, I don’t think we all have different styles, but there are different ways to approach it. Some people like to do the testing all in one day, some like to break it up over a couple of days or three days you know, just little questions like that. So kind of working with them to figure out their ideal schedule and then training your admin staff accordingly. Let’s see finding a script to sell testing services over the phone a little bit different than some therapy, certainly, because people are making a big investment. So you want to make sure that your admin staff has really dialed in. What I did in the beginning was kind of required our admin staff to read through several of the assessment reports so they have a good idea of what kind of service we’re offering so they can really speak to when parents or our clients ask questions they can say, “Oh yes, we do this. And here’s what it looks like and here the recommendations you might receive,” and things like that.
[WHITNEY]: That’s such a good recommendation there. I like that.
[DR. JEREMY]: Sure, sure. Let’s see what else —
[WHITNEY]: Well, let’s talk about marketing actually.
[DR. JEREMY]: Oh, yes, yes.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. And I’m going to share my story. I can’t remember if I shared this on your podcast about a little bit of my experience and how sad the marketing part was. But my daughter was having some hearing loss and we got her ears checked and found out she had hearing loss. She wasn’t speaking and this was when she was about 18 months old, like barely saying any words. So we were trying to determine autism at that point because she got the hearing aids and she still wasn’t speaking. So I went to the pediatrician who does that quick evaluation in the office to let you know if they think you need to be evaluated for autism and she gave me two references and they were both for doctors that were behavioral pediatric doctors. And I was like, “Okay.”
And one of them had a wait list that was a year, literally a year because I’m in this town, that’s big enough to have what you need, but small enough that it’s not accessible enough. And like there were some, yes, you could go to these other places. Like I called places in Atlanta down to Jacksonville, just trying to find anywhere. And it was just so hard to find anywhere. And then she said, “Well, there’s this other person in town, but she’s not on any panels and you’re going to have to pay cash.” And I was like, “Okay, well,” it’s important that you get the testing done soon because you got to start those services young. And you’re like in a time crunch. So we went on ahead and paid. I have no idea how much, but it was more than I probably wanted to pay and got an evaluation done and this lady at the very end said, “Well, she’s not technically two yet so we’re just going to have to wait.”
[DR. JEREMY]: Oh goodness.
[WHITNEY]: And I was like, “Seriously? Why didn’t you tell me this with your office staff, when we called and made the appointment?” And then we called that, when she turned two, she had said to us, “Just come back for a quick evaluation, yada, yada.” I came back, she wasn’t prepared for the evaluation. Like the office staff messed it up and then they still did the evaluation, but they never sent us the report, never got the report.
[DR. JEREMY]: Oh my God.
[WHITNEY]: So we never paid the bill. And I was like, what is the deal here? Like I am a therapist. I should know where to send my kid. And I had no idea who to look for or what to do. I didn’t know, “Let me go to a psychologist for autism.” Like now that seems so simple to me but for some reason maybe I had mommy brain and I was overwhelmed, but I called my girlfriend up in Atlanta, who is a psychologist and said, “Do you know what I’m supposed to do here?” Because I knew she worked with autism patients like one-on-one and wasn’t sure about the testing part. And she was like, “Oh yes, you find a psychologist who specializes in autism testing.” I was like, “Oh,” and I Googled it. There were like, there’s three in town or maybe four now and they’re fantastic. They got us in, because of her age, they got her in within two weeks, got her tested immediately, and we paid a $40 copay for the entire thing. And I got a fantastic assessment and a really kind psychologist. And so I’m saying that just to say like the marketing piece, I wish that it had been more pronounced or I had known, and I’m a therapist I should be well-connected in town and I didn’t even know this place even existed.
[DR. JEREMY]: Right. Yes. I hate to hear those stories. My gosh, because you’re in this time of need and you’re reaching out, it’s a big leap, you’re probably scared, maybe wanting the diagnosis, maybe not wanting the diagnosis. Like there’s a lot going on at that time. And I think that really speaks to how hard it can be if you get connected with a practice that doesn’t know how to like guide you through that process and really sort of embrace you and like let you know, “Here’s what we do. Here’s how it’s going to go. Here’s what you get. Here’s the timeline.” Like in those times of uncertainty you need certainty. And we can provide that as practice owners, I think by having a really like dialed in script and system and so forth.
So marketing wise, yes, I mean, you’re touching on something really important, which is for testing, I think in a different way than therapy our work is really a big part of our marketing. So you, I’m certain never referred anyone to that pediatrician again, right?
[WHITNEY]: Never.
[DR. JEREMY]: Never. So the experience that people have in your office through the evaluation process is going to be crucial. A big part of that is the evaluation feedback and report because those are the deliverables. This is different than therapy where it’s kind of open-ended and people get better over time, but it’s hard to really nail that down sometimes. And you know, in testing, like you give them feedback and then you give them this report that they take and it lives forever. So it’s a very concrete document. So I always talk with people about like, that report is actually one of your best marketing tools. So that’s why you want to hire someone who has really dialed in with their writing skills and their clinical skills, because that report will go everywhere. It goes to schools, goes to occupational therapists, it goes to a speech therapists, it goes to other mental health providers. So, I think you —
[WHITNEY]: I love that you’re saying this because I refer everyone well, there’s two in town that I refer to, but I definitely refer everyone to the woman who did ours because she was so fabulous. And then when I would get clients back, when I used to see a lot more adolescents, I would get those reports from the psychologist in town and I would read them and that would determine who I was referring to for different things.
[DR. JEREMY]: Sure, sure. I mean, it makes a big difference. So that’s just one difference, I suppose, with marketing for testing is that you have that piece of it that plays into the marketing. Otherwise though I think it’s kind of basic stuff that we can take from our experience with therapists, just making sure that there’s a dedicated space on your website where like you talk about testing, you have pages set aside for testing to make sure people can find it and really showcase it as a service in your practice. Don’t talk it away as just another bullet point on your homepage or something. So make sure to play it up on your website. That of course drives SEO and all those things but yes, the service is really a big part of marketing.
And another thing that we do that has been fantastic for marketing that’s helped us sort of anchor into our community is that we go out into schools and do school observations for most of the kids that we work with. So we’re connecting with principals, school psychologists, teachers, and other school staff. And just helps put a face to a name and they seem very appreciative that we’re actually out of the office and observing the kid in a different environment. So that’s one thing that’s really helped us a lot to —
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and that shows that you take that extra step.
[DR. JEREMY]: Right, right, and then —
[WHITNEY]: Yes. That’s actually how we get a lot of our referrals too, is just that really good relationship. We already worked with someone at that school and they saw they got better, so they keep sending.
[DR. JEREMY]: Absolutely. Yes. And I mentioned earlier the collateral phone calls, you know we always reach out to practitioners who are working with the person we’re assessing. That helps a lot as well. So none of these things are like “direct marketing,” but it’s a lot of relationship building. And that to me is really what we’re going for. You know, you need that trust to get those referrals.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes.
[WHITNEY]: Yes, and I’m just thinking the importance of connecting with other therapists, like other group practices that when they do need testing, they know where to send their clients for that.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes. Yes, absolutely. I always tell people that it’s helpful, too, if if you have other people who are doing testing in town to connect with them because they’re, especially if they’re good. I mean, hopefully they’re good, so if you connect with those folks you know, some places are more competitive and it’s hard to make those relationships, but I’ve seen a lot of practitioners have success with connecting with other testing providers and they get full and you get full. I mean, everybody, you need referrals that can help down the road. So those are just a few things.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. This has been super helpful. I want to go out and hire a psychologist now. I just got to find one.
[DR. JEREMY]: You should, and I mean, so I don’t want to totally take over this interview, but there are, I mean, there are so many benefits to having a psychologist in your practice doing testing. One thing I love to highlight just for folks, if you’re considering doing it is that it’s a complimentary service to pretty much anything else. And it doesn’t cannibalize the other services in your practice. So you can refer somebody for testing and it doesn’t take away at all from seeing their therapist or their med prescriber or whatever. It’s synergistic with pretty much any service that you’re going to already offer in your practice without taking business. You know what I mean? It also helps build daytime hours, which is hard sometimes for practices because you know, it’s a specialty service, it’s kind of a one-shot deal most of the time, so people will have more investment to take off and come during the day, which can be helpful. Yes, so there are a few little benefits that I wanted to mention. I’m a big fan of testing, obviously.
Speaker 1: Yes, yes, and I can tell you run a tight ship, which I love. I mean, you’re getting back to people and getting people in. And I love that about practices too often, therapists aren’t giving calls back. Like sometimes I refer out and I don’t hear back. And actually now I’m telling you all my murder stories about psychologists but I did have, well, I told you some good ones too, but I did have one psychologist I referred to and he would not get on the phone with me. I had a client that had pretty sure a personality disorder. It was something I’d never seen before and so I really wanted to get her tested and make sure I wasn’t missing something. And she had, she just really didn’t trust anyone. So it was really hard for me to convince her, took a year to convince her actually, then she finally went. He wouldn’t call me on the phone, she showed up, he refused to test her because she was going to pay cash.
And he said, most people that pay cash do not follow through. This is at least what the client told me. I could never get him on the phone. I tried to call the office multiple times. I complained that he, to another psychologist at the practice that just, it never really worked out, but they requested I write a letter instead of getting on the phone for the referral, to write a letter and explain why I was referring. It was very complicated case. It was really hard to get it in writing and then he read the letter to the client. It was terrible. So anyway, I was like, I am not referring to him again. And so I just think I respect you kind of hearing how you run your practice and how you care for people because it’s not easy to find, and I wish it was, I wish, and obviously now I have some people in town that I do really trust and send all my people do, but it was crazy.
[DR. JEREMY]: It is wild. I’m always fascinated with this whole, like not getting back to people thing. I mean, I kind of get it. I understand like we’re busy, but call therapists back.
[WHITNEY]: Especially if it’s a direct referral and it’s clinical type of work that you want to do. And I actually have that same experience with psychiatrists that they don’t get on the phone and they want you to write a letter and now I get really weary of that, the letters are going to be written, read with the client. Fortunately that client ended up staying with me and we worked through a lot and she got tons better, but I had to like really repair that damage that had happened there.
[DR. JEREMY]: Sure, sure. Gosh, that’s unbelievable.
[WHITNEY]: Well, let’s say somebody is listening and they want to work with you. Can you talk a little bit about how to get in touch with you and the kind of work you do with entrepreneurs and clinicians?
[DR. JEREMY]: Oh, sure. So the best place to get any information is probably thetestingpsychologist.com. Don’t forget that, thetestingpsychologist.com. If you go to the website you’ll notice, I mean, a lot of it talks about marketing. A lot of it’s probably written like for psychologists, so don’t let that scare you off. I work with a lot of group practice owners who are not psychologists, who just want to bring them on. So that’s a good way to get in touch and we’ll schedule a call and talk about whether it’s a good fit and go from there. If you do have psychologists in your practice there’s of course the Testing Psychologist Podcast, that might be interesting to them. We do clinical episodes and business episodes each week. So there’s plenty of content there.
[WHITNEY]: Awesome. Thank you. I appreciate. You’ve given us a lot of great content today and I hope people get in touch with you, especially if they’re thinking about adding psychologists, because you do want to do that the right way. You don’t want to mess that up.
[DR. JEREMY]: Sure, sure. Thanks so much.
[WHITNEY]: I’m going to ask you what I ask everyone on this show. What do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[DR. JEREMY]: I don’t know if it’s specific to Christian counselors necessarily, but maybe just don’t be scared. You know, like if you’re thinking about bringing on a psychologist, don’t be scared. It’s totally doable. It is a fantastic way to expand your services, and there is a big market. I didn’t even touch on this, but you know, clergy evaluations is a thing that has —
[WHITNEY]: Oh yes.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes. So we’ll throw that little twist in there too and just pull it all together that, that’s something you might want to tap into, but don’t be afraid. You can definitely bring on a psychologist. It’s doable, it’s profitable, and ultimately I think a great thing for a lot of practices.
[WHITNEY]: Yes. That’s great. Man, we have a lot we can say about that, but that is a really good thing to market is to get in with those clergy because yes, they all have to have, and I hear some interesting stories.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes. It was fascinating. I talked to a guy, Dr. Andres Ciao, who specializes in clergy evaluations on my podcast probably I don’t know, six months ago maybe. And it was fascinating, this world of clergy evaluations and all the nuances and layers that he has to consider. So there’s a lot to say about that.
[WHITNEY]: Awesome. Well, Jeremy, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today. It’s always good to chat with you.
[DR. JEREMY]: Yes. Likewise. Thanks for having me.
[WHITNEY]: Again, thank you so much to Therapy Notes for sponsoring the show. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. And if you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your client’s demographic data free of charge during your trials so that you can get going right away. Use promo code [JOE] to get two months to try out Therapy Notes for free.
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