“You DO Accept Credit Cards, Don’t You?”

A friend of mine went to a therapy session recently, and the therapist knuckle_busterdidn’t accept credit cards. Wait, what? Most people don’t carry checkbooks anymore. Most people never carried much cash. But everyone carries plastic.

There’s a basic rule of business, which says:

Make it easy for people to give you money.

So if credit/debit cards are what people have, credit/debit cards are what you take.

“OK, But How Do I Accept Credit/Debit Cards?”

I’ve never messed around with the traditional method — merchant card services through your bank. Too complicated, and expensive for the small number of transactions most of us would have per month.

Square Card Reader

What I did was to get a Square card reader for my hypnosis practice.

square_card_readerI got the reader for free from Squareup.com. This is a little doohickey that plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone, and lets you charge client’s cards — Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Square takes 2.75% off the top and delivers the rest to the bank account of your choice in a day or two. Read More...

What’s the Difference Between a Counselor and a Psychologist?

Which is better, a counselor or a psychologist?Everyone will tell you that a licensed psychologist has a PhD and a licensed counselor has a Master’s degree. Fair enough. But if you’re looking for therapy, what can psychologists do that counselors can’t, and vice versa? And should you expect a better outcome with a PhD psychologist than a counselor with a Master’s degree? In short, what’s the difference between a counselor and a psychologist? And what about exempt, alternative therapists who have taken trainings, but don’t have a license or an advanced degree?

Is Conventional Wisdom True?

How many of these statements do you believe?

  • A counselor deals with simple problems; a psychologist deals with complex problems.
  • The difference in coursework between a counselor (with a Master’s degree) and a psychologist (with a PhD) is that a psychologist spends those extra years focusing on advanced therapy skills.
  • Psychologists can diagnose “mental disorders”; counselors can’t.

None of those statements are true. Here’s the real deal:

  • Counselors and psychologists deal with the same problems.
  • The difference in coursework is that psychologists are trained to do scientific research. Therapy training is about the same.
  • Both counselors and psychologists can diagnose “mental disorders.”

So, yes, I’m claiming that psychologists and counselors are the same thing, unless you’re looking for someone to run rats through a maze. Now, is this just my opinion, or do I have something to back it up? Perhaps something authoritative, like the legal definitions of the two professions? Read More...

How Much Do Degrees Matter? An Engineer’s Viewpoint

Do degrees really matter? And, if so, when? Here’s my take, which is an engineer’s viewpoint. As you’d expect, that means that the practical skills you learn along the way are considered to be the main thing, while the social value of the degree is not given much weight. I’m not claiming that this viewpoint is the best one, just that it’s worth thinking about.

Three Examples

My father, Ambrose D. Plamondon, in spite of having polio as a teenager and being unable to walk far, even with a cane, spent a productive career as an aeronautical engineer. This was surveyor landerback in the early days of jets and space travel: the Fifties and Sixties. He took on the monumentally difficult task of designing the stabilization control systems for many spacecraft, including the Bluebird satellite and the Surveyor moon lander. He designed the loading system for the TOW missile. He was one of the inventors of the Hughes Magnetic Memory Drum, a revolutionary advance in mass storage in the Fifties, which helped reduce the size of computers so they could be put into fighter jets. Read More...

How To List Your Unlicensed Practice On Psychology Today

Why Advertise on Psychology Today’s Web Site?

creepy_psychology_today_coverPsychology Today is more than a just magazine with uber-creepy cover art, it’s the most prominent online therapy directory, and is always near the top of Google search results when people look for a therapist. Many therapists use it as their only form of advertising. While, as a marketing plan, this is inadequate (and does much to explain their struggling practices), it’s a start. Psychology Today does bring in some clients, and in my experience is worth the investment.

But Isn’t It Licensee-only?

The Psychology Today Web site likes to throw around the phrase “licensed professionals,” but they are not an exclusive, licensee-only club. Far from it.

This is inherent in the licensing system, which resembles a medieval crafts guild. Attention is focused on the master craftsmen (that is, licensees), but much of the work is actually done by the apprentices (“license-track” practitioners). Some of these apprentices are in private practice and need to advertise just like everyone else. This means that “license track” (that is, unlicensed) practitioners have to be accommodated even in the strictest closed guild. Read More...

Want More Clients? Use vCita’s Online Scheduling

On my hypnosis Web site, hypnosis-corvallis.com, I’ve been using the vCita lead generation/scheduling/payment system for months now, and it’s made my life a lot better! Why?

Online Scheduling is Wonderful!

  • If your Web site allows online scheduling, you get more clients. It’s as simple as that.
  • You wouldn’t believe how many clients make the decision to see me in the middle of the night! With online scheduling, they can take care of it on the spot and go to bed happy that they’ve taken the next step.
  • With online scheduling, both you and your client can receive reminders before an appointment. I’m set up to have reminders sent 24 hours before an appointment, and again four hours before. Thus, everyone shows up! I like that.
  • With online scheduling, you just set your office hours, and clients can schedule — or reschedule — anytime, without having to call you.
  • Google calendar integration means that any schedule conflict that eats into your office hours marks those hours as unavailable.
  • There’s a free version of vCita that’s not too bad, and even their fanciest version is pretty affordable.
  • It reduces phone calls to a bare minimum. Once I set up vCita, clients practically stopped calling me, but sales and client satisfaction were at least as high as before.

This is a very spiffy set of features. It’s super convenient for both me and the client to not have to play telephone tag and struggle with our calendars just to set up an appointment.

Online Payments

In addition, vCita allows clients to make online payments, using PayPal or credit/debit cards.

I started out with PayPal (that’s all vCita offered at the time), which allowed clients to pay from their PayPal account or (rather clumsily) by credit card.

Not long ago, they also started offering credit card payments through Stripe, which has a much simpler and easier-to-use interface. My clients like that! Read More...