5 Steps to Starting an Online Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on March 13, 2020 11:51 am

Note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Starting an online Canadian private practice can be a great option for Canadian counsellors who don’t want to spend money on renting an office. It also allows you to counsel clients from the comfort of your home (or when travelling J). There are many considerations when starting an online counselling business or even adding it to your existing Canadian private practice. In addition to the article: 15 Steps to Starting a Canadian Private practice, the next five steps will help you in opening your online Canadian private practice!

  1. Liability Insurance

One of the main questions Canadians have when starting an online counselling business is if you can counsel clients who live outside of Canada. Though BMS CCPA insurance covers e-services worldwide, all claims must be brought forward in Canada. This means that if a client from outside Canada files a complaint in a different country, BMS will not cover you! Since you have no control where international clients file complaints… it may be wise to only offer e-services to people living in Canada. What kinds of measures can practitioners take to ensure that they are properly marketing their services exclusively to Canadians?

  1. HST Rates

If you are making over $30 000 you will have to charge the sales tax that is required in the client’s province. That means that if you live in Toronto and have an online client that lives in Halifax., you will have to charge Nova Scotia’s 15% HST and not  Ontario’s 13% HST rate. If you have clients that are not Canadian citizens and live outside of Canada, you cannot charge sales tax. Click here for more information about sales tax in Canada. Didn’t you just advise in the previous paragraph to only counsel Canadian clients? A bit confusing… Also, what happens in the case of Canadians who are temporarily residing in other countries? Ex-pats? Snowbirds?

  1. Build a website

Having an awesome website with amazing SEO (search engine optimization) is VERY, VERY, VERY important for an online Canadian counselling business. Your website will be one of the main ways people find you. So, you will want to invest in having a beautiful website that also appears in internet searches. Check out Brighter Vision and Beam Local to get help with creating your website 🙂

To learn more about SEO and why it is so important, read this article: https://www.fearlesspractice.com/website

  1. EMR

It is very important that you understand Canadian’s privacy laws when it comes to online counselling. Video counselling sessions should be encrypted and the content of the video should ​never be recorded or stored anywhere to make sure that it is secure. US Based EMR (Electronic Medical Record), Simple Practice includes secure video appointments in their packages for just $10 more ($13 in Canadian dollars)! Ideally, you want to be using an EMR that includes video counselling as it is easier to schedule clients, send appointment reminders, and log on to the online counselling session. That is why I highly recommend Simple Practice. But, if you use another EMR that doesn’t have video counselling or live in British Columbia or Nova Scotia (where you have to have a Canadian EMR), doxy.me is a free alternative that offers secure video counselling.

  1. Psychology Today

Ideally, you will have a Psychology Today profile for your online services in all Canadian/US cities. But that can get very expensive! So instead, in your account, you will see the “Edit Profile” icon. Select that and then from the drop-down menu select “Target Your Listing”. You can then choose two more locations where your profile will be advertised for free!

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Working with Animals in Practice

Posted by: Eileen Bona on February 26, 2020 10:26 am

Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs) are interventions which are based upon the belief that interactions with animals have inherent value for humans on behavioural, cognitive, emotional, physical, psychological, relational and spiritual levels. AAI’s are intended to be carried out by qualified helping professionals who are trained animal handlers working with specially screened, trained and certified animals.

Although there is evidence to support the benefits of partnering with animals in all ways aforementioned and in doing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as a formal medium of therapeutic intervention, there is no standard code of practice in Canada.

As a psychologist who has been working in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for nearly 17 years, I am excited by the momentum AAT is experiencing in Canada. I am contacted daily by Canadians who are exploring the intricacies of integrating animals into their practice and am aware of the current and interested practitioners.

There are several important ethical considerations for including animals in practice and they include the following:

  • Understanding the many terms in the field to determine where your particular practice, skills and knowledge might fit.
  • Staying within your scope of practice.  As many people are attracted to animals in practice, often practitioners are requested to work with those who may not fit into their scope.
  • Researching and attaining thorough training and certification as an animal assisted therapist. Certificates in AAI/T are available at the college level in some provinces in Canada (i.e., Alberta and Quebec) or training and arranging consultation with a credentialed, well known and ethical AAT professional.
  • Ensuring your animal has been screened, tested and certified to work with you in your setting and with your population. Animals have preferences and ‘scopes of practice’ too and these should be discerned before the animal is integrated into practice.
  • Consultations and training with skilled and trustworthy animal trainers or animal behavioral specialists who are cross-trained in AAT are vital to your animal being well prepared for its work and for you as the animal’s handler to be trained in understanding your animal’s communication and stress signals.
  • Garnering advice about working animals’ schedules and the ratio of client/animal interactions is important to the health and well being of the animal and can be attained from these professionals or the AAT professional.
  • Having a regular veterinarian who is knowledgeable about AAT, understands your species/breed and can advise on changes your animal may be experiencing is invaluable for your AAT animal’s health and welfare.
  • It is often necessary to have extended insurance coverage (alongside professional liability insurance) when involving animals in practice. Determining whether both the practitioner and the facility require insurance for the AAT is necessary.
  • Providing a waiver to participants is recommended to ensure fully informed consent for participation in AAT. The waiver should provide details of the AAT as well as a release of reliability for the therapist in the event of any unfortunate events that may occur during the AAT. The waiver requires the signature of the participant or guardians of minors.

It is an exciting time in our AAT field and I look forward to the promise of soon having approved guidelines to direct our practices and one day, a thorough Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to govern us. Stay tuned for more-detailed Emergent Guidelines for Animals in Practice. In the meantime, I hope this information is helpful.

Eileen Bona
Registered Psychologist
Animal Assisted Therapist
CEO and Executive Director of Dreamcatcher Nature Assisted Therapy
www.dreamcatcherassociation.com



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Locating an Appropriate Office Space

Posted by: Grant M. Waldman, MA, CCC, CIAS III on February 19, 2020 3:00 pm

Is it just me or is locating a space to practice one’s craft a journey of trust, faith and patience?  How many of the readers of this blog have had a similar frustrating experience in seeking an appropriate office space for your counselling practice?  When this writer states, “appropriate”, what I mean is: one that has natural light and is not placed in the middle of a building.  It means paying less than $1,000 per month for 100 to 200 square feet of space; or finding a space that is accessible to both seniors and those with special needs. Is it too much to ask to find an office that is within walking distance of a parking lot?

This writer lives in what I would refer to as a “village” even though others prefer to call it a “city”.  I believe that this has something to do with access to more funds.  The relevance of this statement relates to my dilemma with the lack of office space and the cost of office space in a village that is far removed from a big city environment.  How many of you relate to this quandary?

I now understand why many counsellors choose to share an office space with several other practitioners: to share the cost along with other resources; I also understand that this allows for the appropriate cross referral of clients between counsellors with different skill sets.  I now comprehend why it is quite common for many practitioners to work from a home setting, since it allows them to write off a portion of their home and to not have the pressure of additional rental expenses.

Another challenge that this writer has observed, especially in a smaller locale is the number of practitioners.  The word “competition” never crossed my mind when I changed careers from the business realm to the helping domain; and yet, it is becoming more and more apparent that concepts like networking, marketing and communications are all fundamental to setting up a new practice.  I am thankful that I have these transferrable skills from my old career; however, I would simply prefer to focus my energy on helping my clients.

I am curious to hear other tales that ring of persistence, patience and frustration regarding this topic.  I thank you for reading this writer’s concerns.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Memes a Medium for Generation Z: Managing Collective Anxiety

Posted by: Lakawthra Cox, M.A., MAPC, LPC, NCC, CCC on February 7, 2020 3:30 pm

After recently spending time with a generation Z teen (ages 4-24) watching two hours of meme videos—memes mock some element, aspect or circumstance of life through use of video, photo, with words, music, and or images, that is meant to be shared and passed along to others—on the potential threat of WWIII and a potential military draft due to recent world events, I realized that this medium is their way of communicating their collective anxieties of how they perceive possible outcomes of events. These memes, in particular, were meant to use humor, but also provoke thoughts on recent dynamic occurrences. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, does recommend using humor as a strategy to help cope with anxiety (2020, ADAA). Secondary students nearing the age of 18, young adults in college, and those young adults already serving in the military have chimed in and expressed their concerns, fears, and anxieties over the events. Research on Generalized Anxiety Disorder, demonstrated that the perception of lacking control, can yield increased anxiety (Mineka, S. and Zinbarg, R., January 2006). It is often believed that each generation displays more and more anxious characteristics.

How should we as a culture prepare our youth to deal with similar events while the world watches things progress? As a mental health professional, I avoid watching the news, intentionally, for the primary purpose of lessoning exposure to negative information. After serving victims of trauma regularly for several years, I stopped watching daily news. The premise behind recognizing triggers, is to decrease exposure to things that provoke your anxiety, or if not, at least prepare an appropriate response. There may come a time when watching the news is necessary, but until that time appears, there’s no need to expose ourselves to unnecessary negativity and damaging messages.

Dr. Pennebaker (1990) recommended sharing one’s thoughts and feelings, particularly when there has been a death. Many times a loss leaves an individual with the same feelings and emotions of a death. Perhaps the memes display their collective anxiety over perceived consequences to a set of events. Nonetheless, it is important for us to share our thoughts and concerns in a pro social manner.  Generation Z is so closely connected, yet so disconnected in that technology brings instant gratification and information, but draws away from traditional means of socialization. Communicating their concerns to a trusted family member or mentor may prove impactful in keeping them mentally healthy.

In addition to reducing exposure to possible triggers and sharing one’s thoughts and concerns, but not addressing too deeply a discussion of types of losses, such as ambiguous loss, disenfranchised, or complicated grief, developing resiliency, is helpful in addressing grief from associated loss.  In a study of 14 cases of children in a group home who had experienced trauma and abuse at home in the Philippines, the researcher concluded that the children preferred to share their challenges with their peers over health care professionals (Espina, N.D.). The researcher postulated that the children’s resiliency was best demonstrated in their laughter and socialization with their friends (Espina, N.D.).

Last, although it is perfectly normal to prepare for the future, limit the time that you spend pondering future events. Often times we spend time worrying about potential negative events or circumstances that many times never occur, but our anxiety increases as a result of our worrying. Likewise, don’t spend time reflecting on past negative events unless you are using those occurrences to help you cope in a ‘positive’ way in the ‘present’. Otherwise, countless thoughts about negative past events may result in feeling depressed. Being in the present, both mentally and physically, is the psychologically safest place to be, unless of course, you are presently experiencing some form of abuse or crisis.

References
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Coping strategies. https://adaa.org/tips
Espina, M. (N.D.). Keystone of adolescents coping silks capabilities. University of Southern Philippines Foundation. Retrieved 9 Jan 2020 from https://www.academia.edu/41009316/Keystone_of_Adolescents_Coping_Skills_Capabilities_KEYSTONE_OF_ADOLESCENTS_COPING_SKILLS_CAPABILITIES
Mineka, S. and Zinbarg, R. (January 2006). A contemporary learning theory perspective on etiology of anxiety disorders: It’s not what you thought is was. The American Psychologist. https://www.academia.edu/12984203/A_contemporary_learning_theory_perspective_on_the_etiology_of_anxiety_disorders_Its_not_what_you_thought_it_was
Pennebaker, J. (1990). Opening up: The healing power of confiding in others. New York: Morrow, 1990.

 

Biography
Lakawthra Cox, MA, MAPC, Licensed Public Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Certified Canadian Counsellor has earned four degrees ranging from an associate, two master degrees, and she’s completed doctoral coursework. Her studies include areas of psychology, political science, communications, professional counseling, and education. She grew up in Europe from preschool to her second year in college and has lived in Germany (Schweinfurt, Nurnberg, and Augsburg), Belgium (SHAPE), and Italy. She is also a third generation American Army veteran. Last, she’s previously taught, as faculty, with the University of Phoenix for five years, while co-authoring a children’s book, Aerola’s Big Trip (published), Aerola’s Book of Safety (unpublished), and Aerola’s Trip to Canada (unpublished) with her children. Lakawthra plans to publish a series of self-help works.



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Sliding Scale Fee in a Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on January 29, 2020 12:31 pm

There are many reasons why Canadian counsellors opt for a sliding scale fee in private practice. Some counsellors may include a sliding scale because they:

  1. want to offer therapy to those who cannot afford their full fee
  2. want to have a full caseload of clients
  3. are not confident in their session fee price
  4. all or some of the above

Are Sliding Scale Fees Worth It?
Having a sliding scale can solve the above issues but may also create more! If anything, having a sliding scale opens the door for negotiation on your session fee price. That means more administration work of going back and forth trying to negotiate a session price for each client! You also risk not getting your ideal clientele (people who will pay your full fee). When you advertise that you have a sliding scale, people who are looking for a deal will be drawn to your practice. And those that pay the full fee may resent that they are not getting a deal. Sliding scale fees can cause so much hassle and potential harm to your business that I believe they are not worth !

Solution

Offering affordable counselling:
Instead of having a sliding scale … sign up for Open Path Collective. It is free for you to join and allows you to advertise a discounted price for counselling. You can decide how many sessions a month you want to have at the discounted rate and then once full, you can post on Open Path that you are full at your discounted rate. When a potential client inquires about a sliding scale you can just refer them to Open Path. No negation on your counselling fee price needed.

Wanting a Full Case Load:
First and foremost, don’t start a private practice until you have AT LEAST three months of savings and/or have another job to support yourself! It can be very easy to lower your rate and have a sliding scale out of worry that you will not be able to pay your bills. There are many ways to build your private practice caseload that does not include lowering your session fee. One tip is to offer a free 15 minute phone or in-person consultation where you can showcase your value to potential clients.

Not Confident in Your Price:
I get it. The ‘imposter syndrome’ is difficult to deal with. It makes us think we are not worthy. It makes us forget that we have graduate degrees in counselling, experience, and counselling skills that have helped people overcome issues. You are worthy of a fee that reflects that. Click here to learn more about how to set your fee!

Until next time,

Julia

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!

 




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Nonconformity in Choosing Counselling as a Career

Posted by: Jeff Landine and John Stewart on January 9, 2020 2:02 pm

Typically blogs about career counselling address issues that relate to the delivery of career counselling, for example, the impact of Artificial Intelligence on future jobs and the need to prepare clients for that eventuality.  For the next few entries, however, we are going to shift our attention to the diverse perceptions that exist on the counselling profession and consider motivations to engage in counselling as a career.

We have, combined, over 50 years’ experience working as counsellor educators at the university level and have both been involved, throughout our careers, with national, provincial and local associations whose mandates are to further the profession of counselling. In these roles we have seen countless students through the process of preparation for a career in counselling and have first-hand experience in the processes of legitimizing these students’ positions as professionals by working with certification and licensing boards and committees.

Despite the recent increase in credentialing and professionalization of the counselling role, one constant we have seen is the frequent consideration by these students of their counselling education as preparation for a professional role somewhere down the road. On more than one occasion, I have heard counsellors-in-training refer to their intentions to have this graduate degree in their “back pocket” for use later in life, either when they no longer want to continue with their present work or as a transition into retirement and as a pension supplement. This approach to counselling as a career is surprising, as we don’t see the same approach employed in other professions. Nobody we know gets their Red Seal as a plumber so that they can open a side business in retirement. We don’t know of any B.Ed. graduates who choose not to teach after graduating, deciding instead to wait until later in their career to join the ranks of school teachers. This phenomenon begs the questions, “Why does counselling, more so than other professions, lend itself to be a career of convenience/second thought?” While people might pursue a law degree, for example, without the intention of practicing as a lawyer, the dynamic we are questioning is whether interest in the subject (in this case counselling) will be used as a support in the work being done or not. John completed a vocational Master of Theological Studies degree out of interest (during the latter parts of his career as a professor), with no intention to be employed as a pastor. Unlike these examples, counselling students appear to be intentional in using the counselling preparation they receive for employment purposes later in their career or after having retired from another job.

The history of counselling as a formal profession starts with the emergence of vocational counselling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Shepard & Mani, 2014).  The advent of large cities, built around manufacturing and industrialization, created the need for vocational guidance; however, the influx of people to these urban centers resulted in increases in unemployment, poverty, poor working and living conditions and crime. Corresponding to the increase in social problems, support systems typically declined as people moved away from their families and home communities. The development of counselling as a profession in Canada over the ensuing century was largely driven by a vocational focus but the resulting profession has adapted itself to the connection between career and personal difficulties and the increasing need for mental health support. Counselling and psychotherapy now make use of psychological theory and concepts and counsellors today are much better prepared to work with psychopathology in their clients.

In the next few blog entries we will explore the nature of Counselling education, credentialing and employment in an effort to decipher the motivations and career planning that have, in many instances, relegated counselling to a “sideline” or back-up profession.

Shepard, B., & Mani, P. (2014). Career development practice in Canada. Toronto, ON: CERIC Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling.



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Making and Achieving New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by: Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC on December 20, 2019 11:59 am

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season will soon give way to thoughts and plans for the new year. Many of these discussions will invariably touch upon the changes that people plan to make when January arrives. This might include lifestyle changes, like eating better and exercising more, learning how to better manage one’s money, or a desire to pick up a new hobby. Regardless of how we choose to do so, a new year often presents us with an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.

While any day of the year that we choose to make changes to help us live a happier and healthier life is a good day to start, the dawn of a new year is particularly promising. While many a joke has been made about the success (or lack thereof) of new year’s resolutions, many people do find success with making and sustaining changes at this time of year. What sets these people apart from those of us who may be less successful with our new year/new us plans? Much of it comes down to having a plan.

Step 1: Make a resolution

If you are considering overhauling an area of your life in the new year, I would encourage you to start by picking one area. We often overwhelm ourselves by picking too many things to do at one time and it becomes hard to sustain all changes simultaneously. Instead, start with one change. As you start to see success and have been able to maintain this, you can add on another change. The confidence and adrenaline that you experience as a result of succeeding with your first change will build momentum for the next one. Success builds success!

Step 2: Make a plan

Success in any area of life is rarely due to luck, and more due to planning and ongoing hard work. This holds true for whether you are learning to dance, losing weight or building an empire. The reason many of us are unsuccessful with our new year’s resolutions is because we often come up with well intentioned ideas but do not give much thought as to how we will implement them. When we then encounter a challenge with our idea, we do not know how to overcome it, and we often give up.

As an example, let’s look at a frequently cited new year’s resolution: losing weight. Despite how many people cite this as a resolution and the amount of services catered to helping people with this, many (not all) still struggle with accomplishing this goal. The difference between those who succeed and those who struggle is not simply a matter of will power. Having a plan for how to modify your life so it becomes more conducive to losing the weight is an important step towards achieving a positive outcome. Furthermore, the more detailed the plan, the greater the likelihood of success

Plan A: Lose weight. Eat heathier. Exercise more.

Plan B: Lose weight. Eat healthier. In lieu of buying lunch from a fast food place during the work week, pack a home-made lunch which includes fruit as snacks. Meal prep with a friend every Sunday evening to avoid it feeling like a chore. Exercise 3x during the work week. Join the gym at work so that exercising can be done before or after the workday to reduce the likelihood of a missed workout.

While the intended end result is the same, the person who made the second plan is more likely to be successful because they have given thought to how they will implement this plan in their life, including considering potential obstacles and coming up with ways to counter them. It is important to note that plans don’t need to be extravagant, they just need to be specific to how you live your life.

Additionally, when making your plan don’t overlook all the things that you might already be doing that can help you meet your goal. By doing more of these things (or doing them more frequently) change is less overwhelming. For example, perhaps you already bring a homemade lunch to work every day but buy snacks which is where you succumb to the unhealthy options. By packing additional items to your lunch which you already spend time making, it is easier to make a healthy choice when the 3pm craving hits.  Your plan should make you feel empowered and should build upon good things you are already doing.

Step 3: Pace yourself

You have 365 days (and not just until January 31st) to make it your new reality. Be kind to yourself when you stray from the plan. Be patient with yourself when you experience a setback. Celebrate when you achieve smaller milestones as you get closer to the goal.

Happy New year! Happy New(er) You!

Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Appearing on Network Television: Are You Ready for Your 15 Minutes of Fame?

Posted by: Doc Warren on December 13, 2019 10:45 am

At some point in your career you will likely be contacted by the media. They may ask you to give a professional opinion on a topic they are covering or they may have an interest in the place that you work, the population you serve or even in you and your career. Whatever the reason, there are some considerations that should come into play before saying yes. What follows serves not as a comprehensive nor exhaustive look, but as more of a primer on preparing for what is often considered your “15 minutes of fame.”

Over my career, I have been honored to have been able to help promote our profession in several mediums ranging from television, radio, newspapers, magazines, text books and the internet. In some cases I was little more than filler, providing a few lines of professional opinion for a much broader topic. At others I was the main focus. No matter your role, it is important, even when the only reason the reporter is talking to you is because their focus cannot speak for themselves (like when they were covering a therapeutic animal in my office but alas, Helen, the dog could not talk so they asked me. If I remember correctly, it was my arm that made the front page, wrapped around Helen).

Some folks will decline any type of interviews for their entire careers, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Who wouldn’t want to keep a low profile, do their job and go home? There is much to be said for that. For those who find themselves faced with the decision and are inclined to say yes, consider the following:

What’s your message?
Though the reporter will have their agenda and will serve as a guide for the interview, it is important to know what you want to say, how you want to be portrayed and the overall tone you would like the interview to have. This does not mean that you should stick dogmatically to your original agenda: a certain amount of give is often needed as the interview may take a surprise turn, but have a general idea of what you want your overall message to be.

What are your goals?
After saying yes, what is it that you hope will be accomplished in the interview? Is it realistic? Do they align with the goals of the reporter? Have you discussed them with the reporter? Doing what you can to make sure that there are shared goals can save one from awkward moments when the cameras are rolling. It’s very important to remember that no matter what you say, unless you are on live tv, the editor will decide what makes the final cut. This again underscores the need to mesh your goals and expectations with the reality of what the reporter is looking for. For the most part, put trust in the news-team to do a good job. If you do not trust that they will do so, decline the interview and move on.

Preparing mentally
Most “bad” interviews that I’ve seen are often rooted in a lack of mental preparation or focus. Though there will be varying numbers of viewers depending on whether or not you are doing public, local, state, national or international programming, try to focus on the interviewer and not worry about the viewership. Obsessing about the ratings, number of views and related issues tend to mostly lead to undue stress and possible anxiety attacks. Many times when folks freeze on air it has so much to do with them being psyched out by the thoughts of all the people watching them. Try to clear that from your mind and focus only on those before you. Try to think of the camera as an old friend.

When preparing for the interview, remember your goals, desired message and the approximate time they have given you for the interview. Handle the interview with the same calmness that you would have when conducting a session with a new client.

Preparing the office
If your interview will be done in the studio, there is nothing that needs to be done in terms of office prep; but when the crew comes to you and your office, that changes things considerably. When doing an office-based interview it is advisable to clear the amount of time that the interviewer has estimated. On a recent interview, the producer estimated that the interview and B Roll (extra filming for filler or to do voice over work with) would take no more than 30 minutes. Once they got on scene and asked a few questions, they pleasantly discovered a much bigger story. Two hours later I needed to hold a session and they had not yet filmed their originally planned footage. Thankfully, what they needed to film was out of the office and in part of the 50 acres that surrounds it.

When a film crew is present it is best not to have clients around so as to avoid any potential privacy violations. Also be sure not to have any charts or other medical records in view.

Some folks will want to stage their offices prior to the interview, others will just make sure it has had a good cleaning, there really is no wrong answer.

How to dress
Depending on the type of interview, you would likely either dress much like you would for a typical work day, or perhaps dress more “corporate.” Dress according to how you want to be portrayed. It is not uncommon to see one dressed in a “smart” suit or similar fashion but many exceptions exist.

Setting boundaries
Don’t be afraid to say no to a reporter, producer or other member of the crew should they ask you to do something that you feel uncomfortable with. This includes saying no to the whole interview if the timing, location, topic or whatever feels wrong.

Protecting client privacy
Your clients deserve respect and the law and code of ethics demands that their privacy be protected at all costs. Be sure to read, understand and follow the laws and codes of ethics related to client\patient privacy. Avoid giving details of any actual client that could potentially lead to their identification. Do not have any identified clients with you as part of an interview and keep all notes, charts or other documents out of the area where the film crew may have access. This applies even when you have a high-profile client or clients that the news community would be very interested in. Do not risk your career for a chance at a few minutes of fame.

Getting over yourself
Ok, your segment has been filmed and edited and is about to go on the air, the teasers (promotional commercials) are in rotation on the network and folks are starting to notice and contact you. It is fine to acknowledge the upcoming interview and to share the promos and information but remember to keep things in perspective.

As the segment(s) air there will likely be an increase in calls, emails and social media response. There may be many messages of praise and some level of fanfare. There could also be a fair share of skeptics or naysayers as well. It is best not to tie your self-esteem to your public standing. There may be some hype surrounding the event but it will die down in short order. Remember who you are, what you do and stay grounded. You are no better than you were prior to the interview and soon enough, folks will have moved on to the next big thing. Acting superior now will likely just help kill any positive vibe the press gave you in the first place.

Case Study:
A short while ago I was contacted by the Today Show to offer an expert opinion on a story they were covering for their site. They found me after an internet search for professionals associated with the topic. After a brief exploration of the story, message, goals and related issues we agreed on a day and time to conduct the interview via telephonic means. The interview took place and a day or two later it went live internationally. NBC Universal cross-promoted the story and soon I found that several people who had seen the story but had not read it yet had forwarded it to me as they thought I may have found it of interest. I also shared it on social media and mentioned that I was in it. I then went to work doing my normal client load and farm chores.

A matter of days later NBC Connecticut contacted me about doing a story about the program that I founded and run in Connecticut. They had read the story and my part of it and thought it could be of interest to Connecticut viewers. We explored the items as described above and I set aside four chunks of time that they felt they would need for filming. I cleaned my office and made sure no clients would be scheduled at the office for any of our other clinicians as well during that time.

As our program was the focus, I decided to dress much like I normally do for work as I wanted to appear genuine. My wife did buy me a new Carhartt Tshirt because she felt some of my daily shirts would not look great on television, but otherwise I wore what I often do, right down to my New Balance sneakers and cowboy hat.

As the B Roll was being filmed and small talk between the news anchor and myself took place, there seemed to be a change in both scope and direction of the piece. Though I was prepared to discuss the programming and only a bit about myself, once the cameras were rolling for the formal interview I found that much of the interview focused directly on me and the program itself was second. As the news anchor remained in due bounds, we continued and I followed her lead as she had my full trust and respect.

Two hours into the process, they had not filmed the animal sanctuary that I thought was going to be the main focus of the spot. Having to get back to work, they filmed the animal spot without me (they were well aware of the fact that privacy was paramount and did not attempt to film any client that may have come to the property).

In the end, the minute or two segment that I had planned for turned into a day or so of teasers followed by in studio conversations by the entire news team and two segments in the morning. The evening news team had their own conversations and a single but expanded version of the interview was played. I had no idea what would be in it until I watched it on TV. My wife, also a clinician and member of our clinical team, was interviewed as well and my son Warren IV was shown and discussed. We could not have written a better PR piece if we had tried.

The morning it aired I decided to watch it, something I rarely do as I view interviews as part of the job, something to do, move on and forget about. I was glad that I did. I was super impressed by the quality of the piece and how they treated our program. I then got out of bed, cleaned the drain in the tub, got ready for work as normal, meaning a full round of sessions intermixed with farm chores.

We shared the links on social media and gave them to our website tech to have them embedded as soon as we could. Otherwise, it was business as usual, with the exception of the increased requests for services that often come with media attention.

Days later a different network requested an interview but we declined. It was felt that the timing was wrong, the set up was too rushed and there was concern that the producer did not fully understand or respect the need for privacy for our clients. Though we respect the team, we could not in good conscience do the interview under their terms.

The experiences were good, the added attention for our program was better than an expensive ad campaign, but in the end, we remain the same people and the same program as before. No better, no worse. It is after all just part of the job…

So there you have it, sometimes you become the story. Do your best and move forward. I’m rooting for you!

Links to the original article and one of the interviews:

Other clips may be available at www.docwarren.org by the time this is published.

Be sage, do good

-Doc Warren

“Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org). He is internationally certified as a Counsellor and Counsellor Supervisor in the USA and Canada (C.C.C., C.C.C.-S, NCC, ACS). He can be contacted at [email protected]  His program has also been featured on NBC https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/A-Happy-Place-Wolcott-Therapeutic-Farm-Redefining-Mental-Health-Care-563389381.html



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

How to Store Client Records in a Canadian Private Practice

Posted by: Julia Smith on November 28, 2019 9:31 am

Keeping client’s notes and personal information secure is a very important task that all Canadian counsellors must do. There are two main ways that Canadian counsellors store their client records:

  1. File Cabinet
    Many Canadian therapists, like myself, started their careers with writing paper-based notes and then storing the notes in a locked file cabinet. In private practice, this can be an affordable way to keep client records. However, as your caseload grows you will need more and more space to store the records! Plus, if you do not have your own office space yet or commute between offices… it can become a very big hassle to store paper-based records.
  1. Electronically
    Since starting my Canadian private practice, I have been using Electronic Medical Record systems, otherwise known as an EMR. Yes, it does cost money… but it is soooooo worth it! By using an EMR you can easily store client records securely on an Internet server. By storing client records online, you can easily access your notes at any location! Plus most EMR’s include other services in their packages that help to grow your Canadian private practice!

Privacy Laws in Canada for Storing Electronic Records

As Canadian counsellors, we have to follow the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) (a federal law) as well as any provincial Personal Information Acts. The main point in PIPEDA for Canadian Therapists is to make sure that you are storing electronic records correctly. Electronic records are stored on Internet servers that can be located anywhere in the world (depending on what EMR you are using).

Since some provinces have some type of provincial Personal Information Act, regulations can be different per province. This means that currently every province (except British Columbia and Nova Scotia) can store their records on US or Canadian servers. This is a good thing as it gives Canadian private practice owners more options when choosing an EMR (you can choose a US or Canadian EMR). Unfortunately, British Columbia and Nova Scotia MUST store their records on Canadian Internet servers (you can only choose Canadian EMRs).

For more information you can read: https://vsee.com/blog/hipaa-canada-health-information-privacy/

EMR Options

There are many EMRs that you can choose from. I recommend that you choose an EMR that includes:

  • Online booking: allows clients to easily book their sessions online without having to call to schedule a session. This feature has helped me build my caseload, as many people would prefer to book online rather than call. Plus, if you do not have online booking and a potential client calls to book an appointment and gets a voicemail… they may continue to search for a counsellor that they can get an appointment with right away.
  • Credit card technology (such as Stripe): being able to charge clients for sessions through your EMR and have their credit card information securely stored through the system, saves you money! It has been very useful for me to have client’s credit card information saved (through Stripe). Especially when a client does not show up for their appointment and I have to charge them. It is also useful if someone else is paying for the counselling sessions but is not attending them (such as a parent paying for their teen’s counselling).
  • Secure online video counselling technology: it can be useful to have the option to provide online counselling. I have found it helpful with client’s that have moved away but still want to have sessions with me.

Simple Practice (US)

$49 USD plus $10 USD For Online Video Counselling/ $77 CAD per month

I LOVED and used Simple Practice for years until I had to switch to a Canadian server (my private practice is in Nova Scotia). Its platform is easy to use plus it provides you with online video counselling, Stripe, and online client booking if you choose their professional EMR! Click here to get a FREE thirty-day trial

OWL Practice (Canadian)

$80 CAD per month (plus provincial tax)

OWL Practice is an awesome Canadian EMR that includes Stripe and online client booking if you choose their Premium EMR! (They are also currently setting up online video counselling)! Click here to save 50% off your first moth with PROMO Code: FEARLESS

Remember to:
* make sure you have some type of cyber insurance (usually offered as an addition when purchasing private practice insurance)
*check with your organization/regulator to make sure that you are following their requirements for storing client records

About Julia
Julia Smith, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, is a Canadian private practice consultant who specializes in helping Canadian counsellors and therapists start private practice. She also owns a private practice in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she helps depressed teens build confidence, find happiness, and gain insight.
Click here to get more help with building your Canadian private practice!



*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Holiday Season and Why It’s Not Always the Best Time of the Year

Posted by: Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC on November 8, 2019 12:24 pm

It won’t be long before the fall leaves have been raked up, the trick or treaters have come and gone and the countdown to the end of the year will begin. In the midst of all of this revelry, there will be many opportunities for gatherings with loved (or not so loved) ones. Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas are all celebrated closer to the end of the year. Even if one isn’t religiously inclined, the end of the year tends to bring with it multiple occasions for celebration. Unfortunately, along with the food, drinks and presents, there also tends to be a large serving of stress.

There are different reasons why people find the holidays so stressful. It can be busy with every evening or weekend committed to a celebration of some kind. It can be expensive with the list of people to buy gifts for getting longer each year. It can also involve social interactions that can be uncomfortable or downright unpleasant.

In some cases, holiday stress can often turn into distress.  As therapists, we are aware that holidays can be a difficult experience for people.  Family estrangement, grief and financial pressure are some of the reasons why people struggle at what is often promoted as the most wonderful time of year.

So how do we support our clients, loved ones and ourselves to remain emotionally healthy during the holiday season? Unlike other life events that may happen less frequently and are therefore a little easier to grin and bear, the holidays are inescapable. It can be beneficial if we take some time in advance to think about what we anticipate the challenges of the season will bring, and come up with a coping plan. While the hope is to create a plan that can help us thrive, in some cases, simply surviving and making it out to the other side is also a valid goal.

Here are some suggestions to help you plan for the upcoming holiday season:

  • When possible, try declining invitations to certain events. Regardless of how much fun an event is promoted as being (like an annual reunion with your high school friends) or how obligated you feel to attend (a family dinner), saying no to an event or two has multiple benefits. To start with, it gives you back some time in your schedule, spares you the expense of attending, as well as allows you to avoid any unpleasant social encounters. It also helps to build some comfort in saying no and not feeling guilty about it, which is an important life skill.

 

  • If there is a social event that you must attend, recruit a buddy to go with you. Think about what your biggest concern is about attending this event. Is it the small talk with colleagues you only see once a year? Turn to the person in your social circle who is skilled at banter. Is it seeing a family member who often berates you? Take a loved one who can calmly but firmly put an end to the conversation. If necessary, make an appearance and have a signal in case an early exit is required. The benefit here is twofold: you get credit for attending, while also allowing you to avoid some of the more challenging aspects of the social gathering.

 

  • If you feel that hosting a social gathering is an important though stressful element of the season, consider choosing an alternate venue. For example, in lieu of a potentially tense dinner with the entire extended family in your home, consider inviting family members to a public event in the community a few days before or after the holiday season (for example, ice skating at the local rink). This is an opportunity for the family to be together while removing some of the one on one interaction that is often the source of conflict and stress. It also gives an objective goal to focus upon…

 

  • If the holiday season is difficult due to grief, give yourself permission to not celebrate if you don’t feel capable, or to celebrate on a smaller scale. Carve out time and space to grieve. If possible, do something specific that addresses your loss so that it doesn’t feel minimized in the midst of the celebration occurring around you.

 

  • If the holiday season fills you with dread to the point that it is interfering with your well being, consider speaking to a therapist. A therapist can work with you to not only address the source of the struggle, but also to come with strategies for how to manage it. Holidays can have a negative impact on mental health and well being regardless of how well one has been throughout the year. Seeking the appropriate professional support can be very beneficial.

For some people, the holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year. For others, there is less joy and more strain. Regardless of how you feel about the season, remember to take care of yourself, as that is the best gift you can give yourself and others.

Coretta Rego, MA, RP, CCC




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA