Streamlining Your Business Process: 7 Tips for Private Practice


A new year has begun! For many mental health professionals, we are resuming our schedules after holiday travel and hoping to start the year off right! What are your goals for the year? Perhaps you want to streamline your paperwork process to maximize time with clients? Or maybe you want to explore a billing support business to stay on top of your insurance claims and expenses? Perhaps you want to transition to only taking private-pay clients so you aren’t required to identify a diagnosis and can work with clients from a different lens? So how do we stay on top of our thriving practice addressing client needs and interventions while still remaining compliant with the more mundane and time-consuming processes of paperwork and billing?  Below are some tips and tricks to consider in maintaining a balance of both organization and time management!


Tip #1: Go Paperless

In today’s day and age, technology continues to enhance our processes of organization and time management. Consider going paperless with your client note system to complete paperwork in less time. Companies like SimplePractice, TherapyPartner, and TherapyNotes offer encrypted, protected and thus confidential note systems that can support your client files electronically as well as connect clients to appointment reminder texts and emails and offer billing services to streamline claims submissions and payment.


Tip #2: Set a Schedule

When trying to balance your time with clients and stay on top of paperwork demands, it can help to set a schedule.  Setting aside some time daily or weekly to submit your billing not only helps you complete it when the content is fresh in your mind and getting paid in a timely manner, but can assist you with leaving work truly at work, representing a transition ritual from work to home.


Tip #3: Use a List

This may seem strange when we’ve just discussed the benefit of going paperless bur having a to-do list where items can be crossed off when completed can be very satisfying. Consider using a planner or notebook that’s with you at all times. For others, consider using your to-do list in your phone where you can set reminders and due dates for completion. In our busy world, it can be hard to keep track of everything so a list that’s accessible from anywhere at any time can help record thoughts and ideas that come up in our daily living.


Tip #4: Creating Connections

Staying on top of trainings, webinars, books and other materials can help you streamline your niche and business practices. There any many great materials out there but we especially love Simon Sinek’s Start with Why in discovering what drives us as helping professionals and business owners. Joining an online community for mental health professionals can also be helpful in asking in-the-moment questions about business practices.  We suggest checking out The Private Practice Startup and Building Brilliance as two online communities that offer tips, tricks, and offer access to a community of like-minded individuals.


Tip #5: Have a Business Plan

Working as hard as you do, it helps to have a business plan to create a sense of direction. Is your goal to have 20 clients per week consistently? Do you want to expand to include other insurance panels to serve more clients? Perhaps you want to identify a stream of secondary income? By creating and reviewing your business plan on a regular basis, you can check in on both short and long-term goals of being your own business. Templates for creating a business plan can be found online.


Tip #6: Have an Accountability Buddy

Even with a business plan, life can sometimes get in the way of tracking where we are headed. Combine that with how private practice can feel isolating at times and we can find ourselves procrastinating or drowning in the details. Connecting with a colleague and identifying one another as our accountability buddy can help hold us to our goals as well as remain connected within our community. Engaging your accountability buddy can help inspire your process, define your goals, brainstorm strategies to achieve those goals, and celebrate your successes along the way.


Tip #7: Take Time Off

Being a business owner can take a lot of our time and energy. Don’t forget to take time off to prevent burnout and allow creativity to flow from s different headspace in another environment. We know that being our own business means we can potentially work 24/7 not only in serving clients but the behind-the-scenes responsibilities. Time off can support us in being grounded, compassionate clinicians as well as focused, driven business owners who can enjoy the results of our hard work and remain inspired to continue to serve the populations we value most.

Safety Planning with At-Risk Families: Exploring the Benefits

Safety Planning

Warning signs, safety measures, plan of action, and supports. These are all vital components of crisis response and safety planning in the field of mental health. Safety planning can be considered a helpful resource to assess safety needs for each family member and develop awareness of individual needs by loved ones when participating in discussion. It can also serve as an empowerment tool to allow advocacy and engagement in positive coping skills when the family is experiencing conflict. Due to family systems becoming more diverse to meet the needs of support and connection, the term family can be defined in non-traditional ways. Not only does it capture the nuclear or biological family, it may also comprise of blended families, extended family, step-parents, foster siblings, or “chosen family.” Chosen family can include but is not limited to, close friends, mentors, and godparents.

Bringing individuals together in their roles in the family system, it has become increasingly important to include all members in safety planning when addressing mental health and safety in order to unify the family and achieve meaningful results. In serving at-risk youth and families in the Denver Metro Area, safety planning has proven to be invaluable in exploring awareness of triggers for disruption and conflict, safety needs; thus engaging the family in exploration to foster empowerment and change. Safety planning allows the whole family to explore their needs rather than isolating one individual as the “identified problem.”


The Benefits

The benefits of safety planning can be demonstrated for one family of seven suffering from neglect, domestic violence, and substance use that lead to Department of Human Services involvement due to ongoing safety concerns. The family system consisted of mom Jenna* (36), boyfriend David (27), daughters Fiona (16), Margot (14), Patricia (6), and sons Julian (9) and Bobbie (2). Jenna and her family were referred to in-home family therapy due to safety concerns with Jenna’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting in substance use, domestic violence with her boyfriend David, and neglectful parenting that was negatively impacting each child.

It was the hope of the Department of Human Services to support the family in reuniting and repairing their relationship now that Jenna was sober from substances and ready to actively parent in the household.

Observing and engaging the family in rapport building, it was quickly apparent which role each member played in the family system. Jenna was able to identify her challenges in parenting her children in that they were each struggling with her absence in different ways. Fiona identified her anger that lead to running away from home and engaging in fights at school. Margot reported being a strong student and keeping to herself in her room when not parenting her younger siblings in Jenna’s absence. Patricia was observed to be childlike with attention-seeking behaviors younger than her biological age, whereas her older brother Julian escaped into video games to remain unseen. The youngest, Bobbie, was observed to struggle with meeting developmental milestones and resorted to screaming and hitting himself and others when emotionally dysregulated.

Through engaging Jenna, David, and the kids in a safety planning therapeutic activity, they were able to begin to recognize each of their individual differences regarding warning signs, as well as the coping skills needed to support connection and emotion regulation.  Jenna began to learn more about her children and their needs through identifying warning signs such as isolation, anger, and behavioral changes signifying distress for each child at their developmental level.

Jenna also identified her own triggers and reactions to her children as they related to her trauma and urge to escape.



When Jenna couldn’t escape her PTSD symptoms through work or substances, she was able to recognize the increased risk of conflict and aggression leading to fights with her boyfriend David. The safety planning served as a tool of discovery for family members and empowered each of them to advocate for their needs through healthy communication. For Jenna and her family, the safety plan served as a means of taking action to support the family in times of conflict and crisis.

Through this process, the children felt heard, Jenna identified goals for ongoing individual therapy work to maintain sobriety, and David and Jenna were able to identify new ways of communicating as a couple in order to bring the entire family closer together. Safety planning can be introduced and implemented early in the therapeutic process to explore family patterns, coping skill needs, and foster trust and safety while empowering families to remain together, connected and aware. A safety plan template is available for professional use along with a suicide risk assessment called the Community Assessment and Coordination of Safety (CACS) at

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality