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Harnessing the Winds of Change - Page 8

Retail Clinic. A retail clinic is a bare-bones operation, set up to cast a wider net than a boutique practice and serve less-affluent clients. We can see this model already in operation in the medical field. QuickHealth has opened retail medical clinics in Northern California, offering primary care, pay-as-you-go clinics for working families. Drugstore giant QVC has followed suit.

A retail clinic focuses on the affordability of sessions (no insurance involved) and ease of access. This model requires therapists who can counsel families and individuals for a range of generic mental health care issues: in a single day, a therapist may treat depression, anxiety, couples problems, parenting issues, and addiction concerns. Market share is critical, because in a retail clinic, a constant flow means the difference between feast or famine. Often 25 percent of total expenses in spent on advertising. One psychotherapist outside of Chicago finds clients primarily through a large ad in the yellow pages that costs her $10,000 each year, but effectively promotes her reasonable, flat fee of $49.95 (cash only, no insurance accepted) for a 35-minute counseling session. Her office is in a retail strip mall. It isn't fancy. She returns calls within 24 hours by using a low-cost answering service that also schedules her sessions. She has a waiting list and employs two associates. All are trained in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which makes managing the shorter sessions possible. She can accommodate 30 or more clients each day at the clinic, because shorter session times allows for increased volume. Last year, her clinic grossed $325,000. She asks each client to fill out a pre- and post-therapy survey, loaded on a computer in the waiting room, to track client satisfaction session by session. So far, the clients resoundingly approve of this easy, consumer-based, affordable approach.

Product-Driven Practice. A product-driven practice attracts clients who are interested in the specific therapy method being offered. Therapists have many training options available to them, and usually select one or several based on clinical decisions. Bringing a business mind-set to the choice of training means looking for a vendor who offers solid marketing that helps promote the method to the public and provide referrals. Examples include the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, whose website lists certified CBT practitioners and a long list of media-placed articles, and EEG Spectrum International, whose website lists neurofeedback practitioners, with journal articles and case studies geared to referring professionals. Building market share then becomes an endeavor shared by the organization offering the training and the practitioner's efforts. Therapists must employ "due diligence" to discover how much promotion the training organization will do on their behalf. This might mean seeing a written contract and contacting others in the referral network to find out if referrals have resulted from the training.

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