These are Tough Days for Therapists
Graduate schools churn out too many of us, making jobs scarce. Even if we find work at an agency, governmental and private funding has dwindled, resulting in meager paychecks. If we’ve created a private practice, the competition for self-referred clients is intense, and we are often at the mercy of managed care and insurance companies that severely limit payments.
There is a way out. Build your own therapy practice serving court-referred participants; the newest specialty in counseling.
- Help people change their lives, sometimes almost miraculously
- Decide who you want to work with, how much you want to work, and when you want to work
- Capture your piece of the exploding market of Drug Court clients
- Earn three, four, even five times more than you could working at a non-profit agency
This Book Gives You Specifics to Help You Succeed Where Others Fail
Develop practical business and marketing plans, understand the legal system and Drug Court in particular, build referral sources and recruit clients, create strategies for treating court-referral clients.
Restorative Treatment. Clients come to us for many reasons – driving while intoxicated, domestic violence, shoplifting, or other offenses, but they have one thing in common: they’ve all strayed from the path of normalcy. Through Restorative Treatment, you help restore them to:
- Compliance with the law and creation of an accountable lifestyle
- Clear thinking including admission of illegal behavior and recognition of its consequences for themselves and others
- Emotional and spiritual health which deteriorated as they engaged in illegal behavior
- A healthy family and social life in which they extend respect and compassion towards others
Court-referred clients: Don’t let your fears keep you from success. Although sometimes initially suspicious of group treatment, these people are cooperative and aware of the need to change. The vast majority are grateful to you by the time they complete treatment.
Restorative Treatment is powerful and gratifying work.
We also offer a Phone Tutorial for Therapists to get the most out of Restorative Treatment.
Welcome! Here’s a great opportunity for you as a therapist. You can help clients make changes in their lives—sometimes almost miraculously, design your own business, and earn a good living while working as your own boss. You already have what it takes to be a Restorative Treatment provider, a therapist who works with court-referred clients. I’ll show you how to develop your experiences and aptitudes so that your agency can succeed where other small businesses have failed.
- The death of the dream
Like many other social workers and counseling psychologists, you went to graduate school anticipating reasonable wages and rewarding work, only to discover that managed care, puny insurance plans, and poor funding of non-profits had flattened the job market. The first dream may be dead, but by embracing basic business principles you can develop a new dream—your own private practice.
- A new world
The sharp decline in traditional clients doesn’t mean giving up your career as a therapist. Drug courts are revolutionizing treatment and providing the largest single pool of new clients for therapists who are ready to create a new practice. Every day drug courts and other problem-solving courts refer clients for treatment for alcoholism, drug abuse, criminal sexual conduct, prostitution, and domestic violence. Not sure how you’ll fit in? I’ll answer your doubts and questions by explaining the misconceptions associated with providing services to court-referred clients.
- How courts work: Just the facts
Therapists who want to succeed with court-referred clients need to understand the legal system. Dave Schipper, Director of Probation and Community Corrections, 58th District Court, Ottawa County, Michigan, clearly explains types of crimes by jurisdiction and the nature of offenses as well as the differences between circuit and district courts. Here you’ll also meet our friend, Ben, who is just beginning a trip through drug court after being arrested for drunk driving.
- Drug court
Travel with Ben through the court system, learning how drug courts and other problem-solving courts comprise a revolution in rehabilitation for offenders. Therapists provide treatment that’s supplemented by therapeutic jurisprudence, the conduct of law that results in healing and growth as well as accountability for offenders. Drug court uses an innovative team approach, and people who work in drug court – judges, probation officers, and treatment providers – often find it to be the most fulfilling part of their work. Join the revolution!
- Creating your vision
In order to create a thriving, sustainable practice with court-referred clients, you need a vision that provides you with a defined goal. A vision is imperative because it drives your planning and decision-making as you put your practice together. This chapter guides you through the steps to create your vision as you decide what programs you would like to offer, complete a detailed vision worksheet, and write your vision statement.
- Slaying dragons
Most people who consider creating a private practice run into a wall at some point—the wall of their own fears. As a therapist, you know that irrational fears can keep clients stuck. You also know that fear is a powerful tyrant that grows more powerful when left unacknowledged. In this chapter, you’ll work through your fears by naming, demystifying, and practicing affirmations. We’ll pay special attention to two fear dragons: impulsivity and excessive caution. Remember that resistance is part of the process of change.
- Market research: Getting to know your neighbors
Marketing can best be defined as a range of activities designed to identify, attract, and retain customers. Many businesses fail because market research is the most essential and least implemented aspect of building a business. Market research takes time and work, but it will be the best effort you put forth. This chapter provides market research data forms and step-by-step directions for researching the availability of court-referred and self-referred clients for your agency.
- Staking out your territory
You’ve created your vision of your practice, learned about your local courts, and found facts about the client pool available to you. Now is the time to merge vision with reality by following the six steps to planning your agency programs. After reviewing your court market and agency market surveys, you’ll be ready to make informed decisions for your business and stake out your territory.
- Laying the foundation: Writing the business plan
Many people in business jump in without thinking through how their business will work. The Short-and-Snappy, It’ll Make You Happy business plan shows you how to plan the work and work the plan. This simple but effective business plan contains five sequential parts—Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Steps—that will let you start your business on solid ground.
- Practical Choices: Setting your business plan in motion
Don’t overlook these ten key factors in implementing your business plan. Matters such as office space, furnishings, accounting and records-keeping, insurance, legal structures, and licensing/accreditation may seem mundane, but they are essential considerations as you plan and build your private practice. Look at these practical choices as a checklist for success.
- Financing the castle
Developing a realistic financial plan now that includes your personal income requirements as well as business income and expenses will allow you to build your agency, pay the bills, and sleep at night without worrying about your finances. Two detailed case studies guide you as you make your own financial projections.
- Advertising and networking: Putting up your sign
Now that you’re ready to open your doors, you need a convincing agency name, an attractive portfolio including effective business cards, and advertising materials that attract customers. You also need to tell the courts that you have crafted the product they’re looking for. The essential principles of advertising and networking offered here will enable you develop and implement a plan that will get the clients you want.
- Court-referred clients: Who are they?
Court-referred clients can at first be guarded: they harbor deterrents to treatment such as withdrawal, shame, and fear resulting from their experience in the criminal justice system. However, if you tolerate their initial anger and resistance, you find that like most clients, their development follows a predictable pattern. More quickly than you might imagine, you’ll find that you enjoy working with these clients and take pride in their growth.
- Restorative treatment: Principles
The goals and operating principles of effective treatment for court-referred clients are contained in my therapeutic model, Restorative Treatment. Its objectives include compliance with the law, an accountable lifestyle, emotional and physical health, reality-oriented thinking, a healthy family and social life, and abstinence from addictive behavior. The chapter describes five “mind-maps” that help you and your clients to see where they’ve been and where they need to go.
- Restorative treatment: Practice
Starting with admission of the problem and ending with relapse prevention, here is a systematic course to help clients restore themselves to health and sanity. I also offer some advice on choosing the most effective treatment modalities for your clients and describe five activities that can be adapted for almost any group of court-referred clients.
- Tailored for the court
Though clients pay the fees, the courts supply the clients, and so the court is your real customer. Your relationship with the court can be ambiguous. The court doesn’t pay you, but it can “hire” or “fire” you by sending clients your way or sending them to a rival agency. This chapter offers insights into developing and maintaining a successful relationship with the courts as well as some thoughts and suggestions about ethical issues you may encounter.
Your business is chugging along. Maybe you see some things that you want to change; maybe you feel forced into making changes you don’t want to. Here are guidelines for remodeling, recommendations for taking care of yourself and advice on scanning the environment as you continue to develop your agency.
Good news for you, dear reader, and for our friend from drug court, Ben. Best wishes for the next phases of your journey.
About the Author
Charlie Donaldson MA has specialized in Restorative Treatment for court-referred clients for 15 years. As director and therapist at West Shore Counseling Services in Holland, MI, he works primarily with clients referred because of drunk driving, domestic violence, and drug charges. In addition, he specializes in counseling self-referred men.
Charlie is the co-author of Stop Hurting The Woman You Love: Breaking The Cycle of Domestic Abuse, the first book to challenge abusive men in an engaging and respectful manner, recently published by Hazelden. He has presented workshops for other therapists on topics such as counseling men, the psychology of abusive men, and tools for batterer intervention. He has served on both the planning and steering committees of 58th District Sobriety/Drug Court and the innovative Domestic Violence Court Initiative in Holland, MI. Additionally, he was instrumental in forming the Batterer Intervention Service Coalition of Michigan, a model for state domestic abuse treatment organizations.
As an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University, Charlie supervises interns at his agency. He has Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and English, and is credentialed as a Limited Licensed Psychologist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and Certified Addictions Counselor I.