01 Jun 2017

How to Put Yourself Out There

How to Put Yourself Out There

Web-savvy psychologists share the strategies they use to strengthen their Web presence and help patients get the services they need.

A growing number of consumers are finding their health information and checking out their health-care professionals online — and this will only increase as technology and people's comfort in using it increases.

"For most of my younger clients especially, knowing they can learn something about me before they come in is reassuring to them," says Ann Becker-Schutte, PhD, a private practitioner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Even when clients find out about you through a referral, one of the first things they do is check out your website, says Dan Hinmon, community director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. "It's important for providers to make sure their site looks professional, that all information is current and that it includes the information clients are looking for," Hinmon says. "Put yourself in the place of your client and ask, ‘What would I really want to know about this psychologist before I make an appointment?' and make sure that question is answered on your home page."

So how do you develop your professional identity online so clients can find you? Here's advice from psychology's experts:

Observe and follow others. First, identify the websites, blogs and social media you admire, says Keely Kolmes, PsyD, a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist who has maintained an active professional website and blog since 2008. Figure out whom you want to emulate, be it other psychologists or psychological or mental health organizations such as APA. Watch out for the "bad examples," including those who may post possible diagnoses for celebrities, quote their clients or otherwise compromise client confidentiality, she notes.

Build your content. Start educating your public by adding a blog to your website, advises Becker-Schutte. Spend a half hour a week writing a post about new research related to your specialty or about a typical problem you help clients work through in your practice. "If you can blog about what you're already saying 50 times a week in session, it establishes your expertise and gives you content to share on social media," she says. To stay in compliance with APA's Ethics Code, however, it's important that you never put client information out there in any way, she adds.

Don't be intimidated by blog platforms, she says. Many are user-friendly, even for psychologists without Web experience. "If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress," she says.

If blogging feels overwhelming, simply share the posts of like-minded groups, such as APA or the Mayo Clinic, Becker-Schutte says. "Spend 10 minutes a day checking out what's coming through your screen and share those things that are relevant to your practice," she says. "I probably share five to 10 times more from other people than I share of my own because it keeps me active and engaged without having to develop my own content all the time."

Film yourself. Video can be a great way to help potential clients identify with you and ease any anxiety they may feel about coming in for a session, Kolmes says. "It gives a face and voice to a psychologist's website and can help people begin to sense whether they will connect with you," she says.

Nicole Lipkin, PsyD, MBA, owner and executive director of Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services in Philadelphia, has every clinician who joins her practice film a video that explains his or her therapeutic style. "I really wanted to help clients find the right fit," says Lipkin, who is also CEO and founder of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. "Clients love getting a little taste of each clinician's style and it really helps them feel some ownership in the choice they're making about who they want to get help from."

Create boundaries. Be sure to have a social media policy that spells out potential interactions with clients on the Internet. The policy could point out that you won't follow them on social media to maintain confidentiality, and remind them that if they choose to follow you, that may be visible and public information.

"Review the policy with every new client during their first session, and have them sign it to ensure you are all on the same page," Becker-Schutte says.

For examples of social media policies, visit www.drannbeckerschutte.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Ann-Becker-Schutte-Privacy-Social-Media-Policy.pdf and www.drkkolmes.com/docs/socmed.pdf.

Take charge on ratings sites. While you can't erase a bad review on a website such as Yelp or Healthgrades, you can go to these sites and describe your practice in your own words, says Pauline Wallin, PhD, a Pennsylvania clinical psychologist and one of the founders of The Practice Institute, which provides business and marketing resources for psychologists in private practice. "You can also explain in your profile the ethics code you follow as a psychologist — and the reason you will not respond to any reviews," she says.

Kolmes offers another solution. She has developed a feedback survey to enable clinicians to collect satisfaction data from past clients, which then allows them to post the aggregate results of the survey on their website. This can go a long way toward countering bad reviews, Kolmes says.

Improve your SEO. Search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to the strategies you use to get your website or blog noticed by search engines. One way to make sure your practice pops up during searches is to include key search terms in your website description and page titles. For example, if you want to attract people who type "marriage counseling" into the search box, include that phrase in the description of your website and in page titles, even if you consider yourself a marital therapist rather than a marriage counselor, Wallin says. And be sure to include your town or geographic region in your website description since that allows Google to rank your site as a good match when people search for mental health services in your area. 

Also, getting inquiries from other high-ranking sites such as APA's Psychologist Locator or Psychology Today's Therapist Directory helps move you higher in search engine rankings, says Wallin, whose SEO blog provides additional tips on improving your rankings. "The more links there are back to your website, the more that Google thinks you're important."

Get help when you need it. Finally, keep in mind that you don't have go it alone when developing a professional presence online. Decide what you want to do and outsource the rest. Kolmes recommends asking colleagues for referrals for who worked on their sites.

"Knowing when to get consultation on the parts you don't understand can really help you get the most out of your website," she says.

By Amy Novotney

This article was originally published in the February 2016 Monitor on Psychology

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24 May 2017

New APA Data Show Where Practitioners Work

New APA Data Show Where Practitioners Work

Most are in private practice and work with the white, heterosexual and adult population, finds the APA Center for Workforce Studies

Almost three-quarters of respondents to APA's 2015 Survey of Psychology Health Service Providers reported that they collaborated in clinical care with other professionals, most commonly psychiatrists, social workers, physicians and surgeons.

According to the new report from APA's Center for Workforce Studies, the most common form of collaboration was sharing a waiting room with other health professionals, reported by half of respondents. Thirty-nine percent of respondents shared electronic medical records with other professionals. And while only 19 percent saw patients alongside other professionals, 36 percent participated in multidisciplinary team meetings and 33 percent reported integrated treatment plans.

"There's a path toward integration, and a lot of psychologists are taking the first steps down that road," says W. Douglas Tynan, PhD, director of integrated health care at APA.

The increase in team-based care is just one of the findings from the survey, which offers a snapshot of who licensed psychologists in the United States are, how they work and their experience with older clients, cultural competence and team-based care, says report co-author Karen Stamm, PhD, a senior research officer in the center. More than 5,000 licensed psychologists across the country—75 percent of them APA members—responded to the survey. Other major findings include:

Most licensed psychologists are private practitioners. Consistent with past findings, most licensed psychologists are working in private practice: 45 percent of respondents cited private practices as their primary work setting (see chart). Clinical psychology was by far the primary specialty most often cited.

Respondents spent a mean of 36 hours weekly working at their primary positions, with half of that time devoted to providing direct care to clients. Respondents spent seven hours on administrative tasks each week, four hours on teaching and research, two hours on clinical supervision and an hour on other services.

Licensed psychologists are mostly treating white, heterosexual, adult populations. About 96 percent of respondents reported that they provide services frequently or very frequently to white clients. Just 38 percent served African-American clients frequently or very frequently and 34 percent Hispanic clients. The vast majority of respondents—83 percent—reported seeing adult clients ages 19 to 64 frequently or very frequently. In contrast, just 23 percent served children and 34 percent served adolescents frequently or very frequently.

Respondents' own demographic characteristics tended to mirror those of their clients, although the median age of survey respondents was almost 58. Almost 88 percent of respond

ents identified as white, for example, and 90 percent identified as heterosexual.

Few practitioners are serving patients age 80 and older. While 37 percent of survey respondents reported serving older adults frequently or very frequently, just 9 percent served the "oldest old"—those 80 and older.

Respondents spent an average of almost nine hours a week providing services to older adults. They spent more time providing psychotherapy than conducting assessments or offering consultations. They also spent much less time—fewer than two hours weekly—providing services to clients' family members.

About two-thirds of those working with older adults are Medicare providers. Thirteen percent reported that they were previously Medicare providers but no longer participated in the program. Almost 18 percent had never participated. Low reimbursement rates were the most commonly cited reason for not participating. Others said they didn't participate in any insurance programs or had caseloads composed mainly of non-Medicare patients.

Respondents were eager to learn more about geropsychology, calling for education on depression, adjustment to medical illness and disability, and grief and bereavement.

Practitioners believe they are prepared to serve an increasingly diverse nation. Almost 53 percent of respondents felt that their doctoral programs had prepared them well or extremely well to work with culturally diverse groups. Another 44 percent felt they were fairly well prepared or slightly prepared to do so. Just 3 percent felt they weren't at all ready.

Respondents' level of knowledge varied, however. More than half said they were not at all or only slightly knowledgeable about working with transgender clients, for example, compared with the 51 percent who rated themselves quite or extremely knowledgeable about working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.

The most helpful resources for learning about diverse populations were books and peer-reviewed journals, respondents said. The least helpful? Graduate training. That's not a slam against graduate training, Stamm explains. Instead, she says, the finding may simply reflect the demographics of respondents.

"The majority of the sample was in their mid-50s, so they're fairly far removed from their graduate training," she says. "They may have changed their practice patterns or emphases over time, so their graduate training is less relevant."

The survey findings point to the need for further research, adds Stamm. One priority area is to determine whether there are enough psychologists to meet Americans' needs. "This report has a lot of information about the supply side," says Stamm. "Now we'd like to focus on the demand."

To read the full report, visit www.apa.org/workforce/publications/15-health-service-providers/index.aspx.

Little diversity

  • 87.8%
  • 4.4%
  • 2.6%
    Black/African American
  • 2.5%
  • 1.7%
  • 0.3%
    American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 0.1%
    Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

By Rebecca A. Clay

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