The following is a guest blog post by Rachel Bédard, PhD (psychologist) and Mallory Griffith MA, CCC-SLP (speech language pathologist), who collaborated in its writing.
We mental health professionals often collaborate with psychiatrists and medical doctors for the best treatment for our clients. But what about collaborating with other professionals?
True collaboration - the exchange of ideas and perspectives, and learning from each other - is highly beneficial to your clients, to your professional development, and to your financial success in private practice. You may even find that you are happier with a comprehensive network professionals to whom you can refer, and with whom you can consult. Your goal is to find people who don’t think like you, and to learn as much as possible from them. Optimally, you could even create a project together!
Quick background: We work with people with autism and both run our own private practices. Shortly after meeting and sharing a few clients, we decided to join forces and start some projects together. We now co-lead groups, co-wrote a book, and are actively seeking additional professionals (occupational therapists, job coaches) to help us better serve our clients.
Your collaboration benefits your clients
- If you have a flush referral system, when your client has a need, you have an expert at your fingertips. Developing this system takes a bit of effort on your part, and will involve leaving your office, making connections, and investing in others.
- A diverse choir of voices within your profession will benefit your clients. Even within your profession, you want voices and opinions that differ from yours so that you can help your clients. Rachel belongs to a consultation group. When she is at a stalemate with a client, she channels the voices of her consult group and can get at clinical issues in a different way.
- A diversity of professional contacts will help you view your clients in new ways. Various professions view the same set of concerns if very different ways. We share some college-age clients. Mallory teaches the clients about eye contact, turn taking, becoming socially curious, and social skills. Rachel then helps them deal with anxiety, negative self-talk that would prevent them from using the skills developed with Mallory, and general cheer leading (go, team!).
- You can create a unique service or a new product! We co-lead a weekly group for young adults on the autism spectrum. Nobody else in town has an SLP-Psych combo for a group, making this a unique service for our clients, and a great opportunity to learn from each other in the moment.
A recent example: Our group wanted to talk about using the phone. Lots of folks on the spectrum struggle with using the phone, and we were able to combine forces on this topic. Mallory drew out the structure of a phone conversation (greeting, social chit chat, actual topics, winding down, giving a credible excuse to stop talking, gracious goodbye) while Rachel helped with the psychology end (auditory processing, executive functioning, anxiety management, general confusion).
Your collaboration benefits you, professionally and personally
- Alleviate isolation and create social connections. Private practice has the potential to be lonely. Get together with colleagues, share success stories and resources, and maybe even make a new friend!
- Alleviate boredom. Seeing clients is awesome, but sometimes feels the same, day after day. Perhaps you are the creative type and want to create new groups, or co-present on a topic, or co-write a book.
- Mallory and Rachel co-wrote a book.
- Rachel and several occupational therapists co-presented at an autism conference.
- Your offerings are only limited by your creativity and your bravery.
- People think of you. When you have a great referral system, people will contact you and say “I hear you know a great psychiatrist.” People start to think of you as someone who is connected, which also means they want you send you clients, since you are connected.
- Your personal happiness. It feels good to connect, to help others, and to make the world a better place. Strong collaboration lends itself to happiness, particularly when done freely and without expectation of financial compensation.
- Financial success. You want people to know your name, but you don’t want to be gross about your marketing efforts. If you can make solid connections with others, they view you as a competent, caring, connected professional, and they send you referrals.
People first, money second. Rachel is frequently contacted by future clients and often makes referrals during that first phone contact. Rachel usually says,“I know those are just names on a page to you, but those are my colleagues. I can help you. Don’t lose my number. If my suggestions don’t work out, call me back and I’ll talk you through finding a therapist on your panel.” A few years ago Rachel referred a client to another psychologist (rather than taking the client herself). The client then called back a year or so later and said, “I know we didn’t get to work together due to insurance, but I really liked talking to you, so I gave your name out to a few of my friends. Thanks for sending me to my therapist; that was a great referral. Thanks for helping me out.”
Is collaboration worth your time?
Absolutely! Consider who in your community can represent a diverse viewpoint and start connecting today! (Scared of making that first phone call? See the next blog post! Rachel has your back on this next crucial step!)
Rachel Bédard, PhD lives and works in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached for collaboration via DrRachelBedard.com
Mallory Griffith MA, CCC-SLP supports individuals who are building social communication skills in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached at MalloryGriffithSLP.com
Mallory and Rachel are co-authors of the new book, Raising a Child on the Autism Spectrum: Insights From Parents to Parents.