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The Cost of Therapy: How to Find Affordable Services

One of the the biggest deterrents from attending therapy is the expense of it. The cost of therapy doesn’t have to be a barrier to care though. There are multiple ways to pay for therapy and get adequate care without breaking the bank.

Key Topics

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Insurance

Utilizing your insurance is one of the most common ways to pay for therapy. In California, it is reported that approximately 58% of therapists accept insurance in some form. Your medical insurance provider should be able to give you a list of therapists in your area that accept your insurance, what the copay may be (or if you will be reimbursed), and if there are any restrictions on services (i.e. a diagnosis is needed, limit on amount of sessions, etc.). If you have a HSA or FSA account attached to your insurance, this could be a way to put money away to cover the cost of therapy as well.

As of January 1st, 2022, if you are interested in working with an “Out-of-Network” provider, they should also provide you with a “Good Faith Estimate” of services. Learn a little more about GFEs here.

EAP Services

Looking into additional mental health coverage through an employer is another great way to access mental health treatment. Some employers will provide additional EAP services that cover counseling. While others may provide wellness treatment reimbursement, meaning they will reimburse you for certain wellness related services you paid for out-of-pocket. Check in with your human resources department to see if they have additional services you can tap into.

Private Pay

Now as noted above, about 58% of therapists in California accept insurance, which means about 42% do not. This is common due to the fact that not long ago health insurance did not cover the cost of behavioral health services. This often is a preferred method for covering the cost of therapy amongst consumers for various reasons. One being the paper trail of their diagnosis that is left behind when they are treated through an insurance provider. One may not want a diagnosis attached to their medical record. In other cases, many people attend therapy to prevent reaching a point of having a clinically diagnos-able disorder. Preventative therapy treatment is often times not covered by insurance providers.

On the therapist’s end, it is also very likely that an insurance provider would reimburse a therapist at a much lower rate than their out-of-pocket fee. This often is a barrier for therapists paneling with an insurance carrier, while also trying to make a living.

Sliding Scale Services

Sliding scale services are often times a way therapists make services more accessible. A therapist may offer a lower fee per session for a certain amount of time in order to provide services to clients that have financial barriers to accessing therapy. If you currently work with a therapist and are experiencing financial hardship, a therapist will often implement a sliding scale rate so your therapy treatment is not interrupted. Associate therapists often also provide sliding scale services because they are still in training to become a licensed provider. Therapy directories like Open Path Collective also provide a list of providers who offer sliding scale services.

Community Based Agencies

Due to the type of work therapists do, there is an abundance of non-profits and community based agencies that provide mental health services to various degrees. Often times these agencies partner with local schools, universities, or county governments to provide specific types of services to the community. Services range from school-based services for students to agencies focused on specific types of diagnoses. These agencies do amazing work supporting local communities and making mental health treatment more accessible.

Ideally, the cost of therapy would not be a barrier to treatment. When considering whether to seek out therapy services consider the benefits that you are getting from that experience. The improvement in your overall health & wellness is hard to put a price on. Making some adjustments to your budget temporarily to gain the tools and peace of mind needed to show up in your life as your best self may just be worth it.

If you are hoping to start therapy services and are a California resident feel free to schedule a free consultation here.

Purchase the Healing Journal

A 90-day journal made to assist throughout your therapy process. Document your goals, growth, and successes on your healing journey!

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How to Be an Associate in Private Practice on Day One

Private practice isn’t a “reward” for years of struggling. Being an associate in private practice is an attainable goal for new therapists. So why don’t we learn more about this career path in grad school?

We’ve all heard a fellow therapist say, “They didn’t teach us this in grad school!” And it’s true. Graduate programs for MFTs (or any clinical license) focus on making you a good therapist, NOT a good business owner. Why don’t they throw this in? Because running your own practice isn’t for everyone, and when you look around at fellow cohort mates only a few will end up being successful business owners.

Key Topics

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Finding Purpose

If you are a “baby therapist” just learning the skills needed to be effective in the therapy room, it may feel intimidating to think about being completely solo in a private practice setting. This is a valid concern, which is why it is so important to get into that space while you still have the luxuries of supervision and mentorship. Finding your purpose for being in this mental health setting will be core to your work and business. Being an associate in private practice means being able to learn from a seasoned therapist, gain more experience working with aligned clients, and build your brand from day one.

Networking

Getting to know colleagues and peers may seem like an obvious skill needed to be successful in a business, but it is even more important for new therapists. Networking won’t just get you your first clients, but it will get you your first job. There is no private practice as an associate (at least in California) without a supervisor who is willing to hire and train you. Networking prior to the transcript being finalized or the associate number coming in the mail means more likelihood of hitting the ground running when you are able to start seeing that first client.

Business Finances

A huge part of a successful business is actually keeping your finances “in the black”. Associates in private practice often have little control over the cash flow they experience, but once you get that certificate of licensure that may change quickly. Setting yourself up with a plan to make ends meet, as well as a plan to save for that initial transition can make the process of becoming a successful business owner that much easier.

Time Management

When deciding to go into private practice as an associate, you have to consider the time commitment you are making. Collecting hours towards licensure is often the only thing on a new associate’s mind, but being in private practice can make this process quicker or much longer depending on your time management skills. Learning how to set up a schedule that fosters growth and supports your goals, as well as having an employer who supports your goals is critical.

Marketing

You learn ZERO helpful things about marketing in grad school, but if you know anything about running a business, you know that marketing is at the center of bringing in paying customers. As a therapist marketing looks a little different from the traditional business model, so having support with learning which marketing strategy is going to produce a steady stream of referrals for your business is essential.

If you are still pumped about starting your own practice and know you have what it takes to be a successful CEO, take the leap. Get started today to find the key components of your journey to private practitioner. All of these points are highlighted and taught in depth in the “Associates in Private Practice” course being held this summer. Sign up below to get a head start on the skills you need to make a dream a reality!

Associates in Private Practice

This group cohort class teaches the fundamentals of getting a head start on your ideal practice, while still collecting hours as an associate therapist. Sign up now!

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Partnership or Companionship, What are You Really Looking For?

Having time alone often leaves individuals thinking they want to be in a relationship, but are you looking for someone to keep you company or a partner to grow a life with? How do you find a relationship that meets your needs? Let’s discuss the differences between companionship and partnership.

Companionship

What’s the difference between companionship and partnership? Well, companionship often looks like…a desire to spend time together, someone to go on adventures to new places with, loyalty, someone to hang out with and meet others, someone always up for some fun, someone to provide comfort and a listening ear, and ultimately unconditional love. A companion is…a dog. I just described your relationship with your dog.

If you are looking for this, check out your local animal shelter and find a furry friend to be your new companion! No, seriously. Research shows, an animal can be a great companion and can ease a lot of the symptoms of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and ultimately provide a meaningful relationship with another living creature.

Partnership

Now on to partnership. So how does that differ from companionship? Partnership requires all of the above and then some. A healthy partnership has shared values, parallel goals, and mutual support. Partnership brings with it a reliability. Ultimately, it is a well oiled machine that runs on love and a whole lot of communication.

Companionship and partnership are two very different types of relationships. A dog makes a good companion. A spouse makes a good partner (or at least they SHOULD).

focused black man reading book near dog seeking partnership

Whenever someone acknowledges that they are looking for love, there is an unspoken question of, “Are you looking for a date or a life partner?” Some individuals enjoy being with someone for the convenience, but have no long term goal for their relationships. That is perfectly okay, but all parties involved must be on the same page.

When looking for a partner, one must consider the long term pros and cons (not just the convenience of having a plus one to that upcoming wedding). Partners build and grow together. It involves commitment, and an ability to assess challenges and be willing to work to meet common ground.

Now a partnership can also be a companionship simultaneously, but a companionship does not always lead to a partnership. So be wary of which comes first. Asking the right questions in the early stages can help with identifying if the person across from you is looking for the same thing.

A few questions to help you out when meeting a new potential companion/partner…

5 Questions for a First Date

  • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
  • Have you been in a long-term relationship before?
  • What was your role in your last relationship ending?
  • Do you enjoy being single? Are you comfortable being single?
  • Do you feel pressured by [family/friends/society] to be in a relationship?

These questions may help you navigate the intentions and mindset of a potential romantic suitor. Try answering them for yourself as well to see if you are truly looking for a partner or a companion. If you find yourself feeling the need to delve deeper into your personal needs, desires, or romantic history, try seeking out a therapist who may be able to help with that deeper understanding of your needs. Need a way to keep track of your goals and thoughts through the therapy process, purchase the Healing Journal! If you would like to schedule an appointment with Lee, book here!

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7 Steps to Owning a Private Practice

For many therapists, owning a private practice is the ultimate dream. Being your own boss, creating your own brand, and serving the population that speaks to you can be such a rewarding experience. Getting to that place however, often feels like a fantasy. My journey to owning a private practice was definitely a stressful one, but I knew that at the end the reward would be sweet. If I had known about these steps to private practice sooner, it may have saved a few headaches.

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My Journey from Graduate Student to Owner of Simplee Therapy

It ultimately took six, long years to reach my goal. For some the steps to a private practice are easier, and for others it is a long, stressful process. That is the thing about building a business. It will always be unique to you and will happen when you are ready to put in the work necessary to build it.

My process looked a little something like this…

  • Summer 2015: Started my graduate program at San Diego State University.

  • Summer 2016: *Found out I was having a baby!*

    Owning a private practice & creating my own schedule became even more of a priority.

  • Winter 2017: *Had my darling, daughter!*

    Summer 2017: Spoke with my clinical supervisor about my desire to own a private practice as soon as possible. My supervisor gave me the number of a colleague (also an alumni of my program) who was thinking of hiring an associate.

    Fall 2017: I blindly called this alumni to ask if she was hiring associates in her practice. She said she was considering it, but wasn’t actively hiring.

    Started my blog “Simplee Therapy” when I realized the information I was looking for wasn’t readily available. So I began writing down what I learned. (This blog was created alongside my Instagram page, and my therapist community quickly started to grow.)

    Graduated with my Masters in Counseling!

  • Winter 2018: Waited (forever) for my associate number to be processed.

    Got a call from the alumni of my program expressing that she was interested in bringing on an associate therapist and to let her know when my AMFT # was finalized.

    Spring 2018: Signed an agreement to start working in her private practice as a Supervised Associate.

    A few weeks later I also got offered a job at a school based mental health program (also thanks to a referral from another alumni from my program). The power of networking!

  • Summer 2019: Due to working two jobs, I was about 80% of the way to the 3000 hours needed to apply for my license.

    Fall 2019: *Side note: I got married!*

    I started setting aside more time for building out my therapist community via social media & my website. This proved to be very beneficial in the long run.

  • Spring 2020: I reached my 3000 hours for licensure!

    *The world shut down.*

    I finalized my 3000 hours and sent them to the BBS with hopes to have them approved fairly quickly (surprise, surprise…it wasn’t quick).

    Summer 2020: Got notified that I could take my licensing Exam!

    Passed my MFT Exam and received my licensing number!

    Simplee Therapy officially opened for business!!! My blog was easily transitioned into a site for hosting information about my business.

    Fall 2020: Due to the pandemic, I had to let go of the office space I used up until that point for seeing clients. Teletherapy was going to have to work.

    I had a little extra time during quarantine, so I created and published a journal for clients to use during therapy.

  • Summer 2021: I officially transitioned to Full Time private practice owner!

    Plus, I hosted the first “Associates in Private Practice” online course!

The Steps to Building Your Private Practice

1. Identify Your “Why?”

From my undergraduate days, I knew that private practice was my long term goal. I valued autonomy and being able to decide what my work environment & schedule would be. When I realized having a flexible schedule would be much easier to manage with a little one at home, I decided to push up my original goal of starting a practice 7years after graduating, to starting a practice as soon as I got my license. My “why?” never changed, just the timeline did. Deciding your “why?” is what will ultimately fuel your passion.

2. Identify People in Your Support Network that can Provide Mentorship

Mentorship is so important when running a business. Whether you find a mentor who is just super business savvy or a therapist who has successfully built a practice, doesn’t really matter. What matters is they have information and tools that can help keep you on track towards your goals and educate you along the way.

3. Talk about Your Goals

You don’t have to keep it a secret that you want to start a business. Talking about it with friends, family, or colleagues from day one means having people that will start associating you with that business. Ultimately, they will start sending referrals, resources, and opportunities your way that may help that business idea grow into a thriving practice.

4. Make a Plan for Reaching those Goals

You can’t have a business without a business plan. There are key elements of any good business plan: partnerships, marketing, research, resources, costs, revenue streams, and opportunities for growth. Creating a clear plan helps keep you on track, and allows you to make small edits along the way to maximize your time.

5. Follow Through on Said Plans

This should be a no brainer. If you make a plan, follow it. If you feel that something isn’t working it may actually be because you have strayed from the plan. Re-access along the way, and see where you strayed so you can get back on track.

6. Stick with it Through the Tough Times

Bumps in the road are inevitable. Life happens and sometimes we have to make significant changes to the plan. Don’t give up during those trying times. Stick it out and make tweaks as needed.

7. Bask in the Sun!

Once you set goals, create a plan, and follow through you will begin to reap all the rewards. It is bliss being able to work your desired hours, take breaks when you want to, expand and reach goals that maybe you never knew were possible.

As a therapist, I know that we learn very little (if anything) about starting a business and creating the career you dreamed of. That’s why I wanted to help other new therapists understand the steps to building a private practice. If you can dream it, you can build it. Private practice is for those determined to create their own lane, and I’m here for it!

Analee Phang, LMFT Owner of the private practice, Simplee Therapy
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Associates in Private Practice


Registration Now Open!

*Seats are limited.*

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Top 3 Blogs of 2021 at Simplee Therapy

2021 has been a doozy of a year, and who knows what 2022 has in store. One thing is for certain though, we have all taken a look at how we can improve our mental health and relationships. Simplee Therapy has always been a space about making therapy simple and providing relatable information on how to improve ourselves and the relationships we keep. Check out the top three posts this year to reflect on some of the things we have learned!

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Coming Together for Interracial Couples

2021 has been a hard year for a lot of couples. Navigating financial strains, health issues, loss of family, working from home, then toss in racial injustice on top of all of that, and some new questions and values may have been surfaced throughout the past 24 months. Take a look back on some important topics to be addressed in an interracial relationship.

Engagement Anxiety

Although 2021 had its not so great moments, there were also plenty of beautiful expressions of love. Realizing you want to spend the rest of your life with someone is a momentous occasion. Excitement may be the initial feeling for many, but anxiety can also show up for those approaching happily ever after. Take a look back on how to cope with a wedding pending.

You’ve Decided to Go to Therapy: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Scheduling Your First Appointment

So many individuals made 2021 the year to start their mental health journey, and what an important step that is! Maybe you were still on the fence about starting down that path of introspection, and that’s okay. Check out the three questions to help you start navigating your mental health journey with intention and openness to the process.

Take a look back and see what will be helpful on your therapy journey. Starting a new mental health journey? Check out the Healing Journal to track your therapy progress!

peace, love, happiness, Lee