As I mentioned in the last post, I use Cliniko to manage my appointments, invoices and case notes. This is the only online practice management software I’ve tried and it’s working for me. I use it on my desktop computer at home, and my phone and iPad when I’m out and about, which means I always have my client files with me. Continue reading
I kept two principles in mind when deciding what I needed to buy or borrow to start my therapy business:
- Wait and see what I need and then buy it – with internet shopping lots of things are available on next day delivery.
- Buy things that can be stored easily and used for multiple purposes – as I’d need to store everything at home and then carry it to therapy sessions.
I feel uneasy talking about money here on the blog and in real life with clients. Kathleen Shannon has some useful advice in her Money Mojo post. Kathleen works with creative entrepreneurs and while that’s not how I’d describe myself, the Braid Creative blog is a wonderful resource. Kathleen encourages readers to “sell your goods with confidence” and talk about money, so here goes. Continue reading
I don’t have space to see clients at my flat. I needed to decide if I’d go and visit people, or rent a therapy room and have clients come to me. When I calculated how much time I’d spend travelling from family to family, I realised I’d only be able to see 4 or 5 clients in a day. It made more sense for me to rent a room, I’m able to book in between 6 and 8 clients a day.
There are of course advantages to seeing clients in their own home or educational setting. There are also advantages to seeing people in a distraction free, neutral space where both children and their parents can focus on the therapy session.
I work part time, so I looked for rooms I could rent by the hour or day. I’ve used 5 different therapy rooms and learnt what’s important to me, here are some things to consider. Continue reading
People have asked me how I advertise my practice. When I ask clients how they found me about half say someone they know recommended me. Some tell me they found me via the ASLTIP directory, and the rest searched google and found my website.
Encourage Personal Recommendations
Happy clients tell their friends! I’ve worked with a former client’s next door neighbour, been contacted by a woman who said her sister’s friend suggested me, and had parents recommended me to their child’s classmates. Continue reading
Several therapists working in the NHS have emailed me to ask my advice about starting their own therapy business. I thought I’d share what I tell them here, in a series of posts. I started working independently about 18 months ago, I’m not claiming to have all the answers! I’ll write about what works (and doesn’t) for me, here in London; you can decide if it’s relevant to you and your situation. Continue reading
When I caught up with my former NHS colleagues recently, they asked me how my independent practice was going. I commented that I’d never seen children make as much progress. We started unpicking possible reasons for this rapid progress, was it that:
- I see the children once a week on an ongoing basis? Or
- The parents are particularly engaged because they’re paying for the service? Or
- I’m able to tailor therapy to a child’s particular needs? Or
- A combination of all three factors? Something else entirely? Continue reading
On Wednesday evening I attended the National Autistic Society’s Ageing and Autism launch event. Francesca Happé talked about the huge gaps in the research, and outlined the things we don’t know about what happens when people with autism age. As autism was first used as a diagnostic label in 1943, the children diagnosed then are now approaching their 60s and 70s.
Saskia Baron’s brother Timothy, was one of these children. In 1961 he was diagnosed with “Childhood Psychosis” which later became known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is now 57 years old. Saskia talked movingly about growing up with a sibling with autism, and her worries about Timothy’s future. She described how difficult it is for Timothy to let people know when he is unhappy or in pain. More positively, she talked about how she’s observed that Timothy is still able to learn new skills. Saskia agrees that early intervention is important, however, she feels it’s not justified to remove therapeutic resources in late childhood or early adulthood, as the door to learning is still open.
My clients with autism are between 3 and 6 years old, they’ll be approaching old age in 60 years! Saskia’s presentation made me think about two things, how can I support the siblings of my clients? And how can I teach my clients ways to express their pain?
This week I also had a wonderful conversation with Keena Cummins. I’m using her VERVE technique with several families and was thinking about how to manage parents’ expectations. All the children have been making great progress due to the efforts of their skilled and perceptive parents, yet these parents often express frustration that their children aren’t using more words. Keena suggested I’m clear about what I want parents to focus on:
“During these therapy sessions I want you to focus on his playing, I’ll worry about his talking. I want you to think about how you’re supporting him to play, explore the toys, and try out his ideas. We’ll be thinking about his words later.”
This makes sense to me, I’ll try it out this week.
Three months ago I left a job in the NHS and started working for myself, as an independent speech and language therapist. It’s been an adventure. First I found two lovely therapy rooms and got myself kitted out with kiddie sized furniture, toys, assessments and a laminator! Then families began getting in touch and my caseload started to grow.
I’ve been reflecting on how things are going. Two blog posts I read recently feel relevant to my situation.
You Are Not a Large Corporation A manifesto for the self-employed by Paul Jarvis, is a list of things that self-employed people can do with their new freedom. I love it! It includes:
You can let your personal values and ethics guide your work and who you work with.
You can be yourself, even if you think it’s not professional. Being authentic draws others in and can be quite contagious. Your personality is awesome enough to let shine in any and every situation.
He also talks about defining success for yourself, breaking the rules, learning from mistakes, and not having a plan.
The post made me think: I spent 7 years working in the NHS, I became accustomed to the NHS way. I’m constantly asking myself, am I doing it this way because it makes sense or because that’s the way I’ve always done it? I’m grateful that I can work in a way that reflects my values rather than having to follow rigid protocol. I’m thrilled by the progress my little clients are making, now I’m able to tailor therapy to their needs.
What about being myself, being genuine, letting my personality out? Nobody told me that I couldn’t do that in the NHS. Perhaps I didn’t have time, or keeping part of myself back was a coping strategy for an overwhelming job. But clients value seeing our personalities. I read this post (follow Dana’s blog, she talks a lot of sense.) It’s a lovely letter from a mother to her daughter’s therapists, she finishes by thanking the therapists for loving Maya:
The therapists loved Maya, despite the fact that they weren’t obligated to do so, and that expression of love gave me the hope and belief that others would see how amazing she is and love her, too.
I’m thrilled that my new role allows me to really get to know the children and their families. We see each other every week and are building relationships. I’m worrying less about being professional and instead I’m focussing on being genuine, because that’s how we connect with and learn from each other.
It’s not all roses and children magically putting two words together. When things go wrong I’m trying to practise mindfulness, remember not to dwell, and move on. Sometimes I find I’m questioning everything, including my skills and sanity! I’m new to this running a business malarkey, it can be tough.