By Richard P. Long, PhD, LMFT, Chair of the Telehealth and Technology Network.
Many MFTs would agree with Gayle King, co-anchor of CBS This Morning, during a recent interview recap, when she paraphrased Sara Bareilles, American singer-song writer saying, “a screen is a flimsy surrogate for human connection.” Yet as Harriet Brown says in a July 6, 2020, article in Vice, after trying remote therapy, some may never go back to in-person sessions. Aaron Norton, in a presentation entitled, “Telehealth for Counselors: Zooming into a New Era”, relates a total of 51% of those surveyed practiced telehealth exclusively as of 5/29/2020. The number for MFTs may be similar.
What follows is an attempt to point out five lessons learned from what for many MFTs was a conversion experience. Each lesson is meant to invite MFTs to reflect on their own online practice, asking—"what is working and what is not working? What am I getting right? What am I getting wrong?”
While this list of lessons learned is not exhaustive, it does raise the question of how online therapy differs from in-person therapy. Of the five lessons learned, which one(s) do you agree or disagree with? What would you add to list based on your experience providing therapy during COVID-19?
Richard P. Long, Ph.d., LMFT, is the chair of the Telehealth and Technology Topical Interest Network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAMFT shared recent announcements regarding the June 30th Congressional hearing by the Energy and Commerce subcommittee. In the hearing, the MFTs in Medicare bill, H.R. 945 was discussed along with 20 other mental health bills. Our bill was mentioned in a positive light during the hearing. It was our hope that this would lead the committee to move forward in trying to present the bill to the House and pass the bill through Congress.
The committee announced they would be holding a markup of a selection of the bills discussed during the June 30th hearing and on other topics the committee oversees during a meeting held on July 15th. A markup is the process by which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation before presenting to the full House. 30 bills on various topics were discussed during the markup. Four of the bills from the June 30th hearing were selected for the markup, of which H.R. 945 was not selected.
However, the subcommittee has insinuated that there is a chance for additional bills to be presented at markups that would occur in the upcoming months. This means that MFTs still have a chance to advocate for the progression of H.R. 945. We will continue to advocate for the MFTs in Medicare bill, as well as continuing to reach out to membership as we work together to try and get into the next markup. While MFTs cannot yet bill Medicare for reimbursement, efforts to be able to do so continue.
Participation from MFTs is incredibly important during this time. While we continue to advocate for the MFTs in Medicare bill, the most effective voices will always be that of the professionals who live across the country. The voice that Congress cares most to hear from is that of the constituent from their own state. If you have not already done so, please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to support the MFTs in Medicare legislation.
AAMFT continues to hold the inclusion of MFTs as Medicare providers as the top federal advocacy priority. In addition to your grassroots advocacy to Congress in support of the MFTs in Medicare legislation, we need your help in one other effort: sustaining AAMFT’s Practice Protection Fund. The AAMFT Practice Protection Fund is used to help pay for items related to advancing pro-MFT policies at the state and federal level and protecting the profession from serious threats.
Due to funding from the PPF, AAMFT has been able to bring members to Washington in order to advocate for MFTs in Medicare legislation with Congress. In order to continue these visits and other pro-MFT advocacy activities, we need to have the funds to continue doing so. Please help advocate for MFTs by donating to the Practice Protection Fund today. Thank you to the Family TEAM for all your advocacy efforts, and for your continued support of the MFTs in Medicare bill.
This content is provided by Brighter Vision, an affinity partner of AAMFT. This information is not necessarily the views of AAMFT and should not be interpreted as official policy.
Unless you focus largely on clients who telecommute for your sessions, you will ultimately be looking to capture your neighbors' business, which makes local networking essential to your practice.
However, today, pinning up a flyer in the local coffee shop does not do as much as it used to. While networking with other professionals in your area can be extremely helpful, it can’t fill your client list alone. After a while, those Sunday morning brunches (or whenever your networking group meets) can start to make you feel like you’re spinning in circles.
You have your professional website, your beautiful business cards, and a passion for helping people – why isn’t this working??
It sounds like it could be time to break out of your networking funk with some fresh new ways to connect with your nearby potential clients.
7 Creative Ways to Reach Local Clients
Setting up a local class isn’t a completely new idea for you. You probably already know the importance of becoming a trusted voice and adviser in your community, especially when it comes to networking.
However, to cut through the white noise of local classes that make most people’s eyes glaze over, try finding an exciting new and ear-catching add to the topic or title. While puns, rhymes, alliteration, and light wordplay might not have done so well at your last dinner party, they can add a powerful ‘oomph’ to your marketing and help catch the attention and are more likely to leave a lasting impact on those listening.
For example, does your practice focus on anger management? Try hosting a class called “Creating Calm – Cracking the Code to Less Anger.”
Does your practice focus on family and/or group therapy? Try giving a talk called, “You Voted for Who?! – How to Talk Politics with Loved Ones.”