Today, I’m talking all about TextExpander for testing psychologists. If any of you are members of The Testing Psychologist Community on Facebook, I know that many of you are, you have probably heard some discussion about TextExpander. I’m going to go into a little bit more detail in today’s episode about what TextExpander is, how to use it, and the different little shortcuts that I found most helpful in my testing practice.
Before I get to the episode, I want to invite any of you who are in that advanced stage of practice to check out the advanced practice mastermind group. This is a group coaching experience where you could be a member of a group with 5 or 6 other [00:01:00] psychologists who are all past that beginning phase and really trying to do bigger things with their testing practices.
You’re a great candidate for this group if you have tried to do things on your own but haven’t been able to make that leap without some accountability. Many of us have big ideas but have a hard time implementing them sometimes, and just getting things done and a group like this would be perfect. So this is a group where we would work on keeping you accountable, helping you set goals, and giving concrete advice and guidance on those issues that come up for advanced practice owners, things like hiring, delegating, getting more efficient, adding additional services, maybe additional streams of income.
If any of that sounds interesting to you and you would like to join a group and get some support and guidance and also help others who are in the same place, you can go to thetestingpsychologists.com/advanced and [00:02:00] schedule a pre-group call to talk with me and figure out if it could be a good fit.
Okay, let’s talk about TextExpander.
Okay, welcome back, y’all. Like I said, we are talking all about TextExpander today. So this is going to be an interesting episode. I’ll be honest, it’s a little bit of an experiment because I was putting the episode together and realize that TextExpander is a really hard thing to explain over audio, and it lends itself a lot better to video or even written material.
So, here’s what I’m going to try to do. I have made a [00:03:00] series of videos illustrating a lot of the points and tips that I’m talking about in the episode today. Those are located on my YouTube channel and they’re also located in the show notes or post for the episode. So, I will talk through each of the strategies that I’ve made videos for, but to get the full impact, I think it would be most helpful to go check out those videos and see it in action. In order to do that, I have put the links to my YouTube channel and two videos in the show notes as well. So it’ll just be a lengthier blog post for the episode today. And like I said, I think it’ll be much more helpful to actually watch the videos.
At the same time, I will do my best to describe each of these [00:04:00] functions in the episode today. And we can just look at this as kind of a springboard or a motivator to get you to go and check out the videos and jump onto the TextExpander site itself.
All right, let’s get into it. If you have not heard of TextExpander, let me give a brief rundown of what it is. TextExpander is a really simple piece of software that basically lets you create really short strings of text that serve as shortcuts to some predefined outcome. Now, those predefined outcomes will perhaps be longer paragraphs or longer strings of text, they could be images, could be videos, could be any number of things, but at its core, TextExpander, lets you, like I said, create these very short, they call them snippets that when typed or when put into a document [00:05:00] or a word processor or email or anything like that, serves as a shortcut that automatically expands into that outcome that you have defined earlier.
I’m aware even as I describe it, that it’s hard to verbalize without actually seeing it in action. So, I’ll jump into that very quickly here in just a minute, but just some more basics, TextExpander is very cheap. It works on both Mac and windows and it runs on a yearly subscription model. So, it’s quite affordable and it has saved so much time in my practice over the years. I probably discovered TextExpander, I don’t know, 4 or 5 years ago. And it’s just grown in utility over those years to the point that I really couldn’t do without it at this point.
So, I’m just going to jump in and [00:06:00] talk about some examples of how to use TextExpander. And then again, keep in mind that there are videos that correspond to each of these methods or strategies that will really bring them to life. So, I just picked a few things that I use TextExpander for that give me the most bang for my buck in my testing practice. I think that as you use it, at least this has been my experience, you will find that you can think of more and more uses and more ways to take advantage of it. But these are just a few pretty common ways that I’ve found to save a lot of time.
The first thing that it can do is help you with inserting diagnostic codes and descriptions. I don’t know about you, but when I’m writing reports, there’s a section where I list the diagnoses and in the past, it would take a lot of time to look up the codes in the DSM-V because I like to include both the [00:07:00] DSM-V and the ICD-10 code. And except for a few choice diagnoses, my memory could not handle all of that. So, I found myself often flipping through the pages, looking up the codes, making sure I remember them, typing them in and that just got to be tedious.
So, what I did was create snippets for pretty much any diagnostic code that I type in. For example, in my use of TextExpander, I start all of my snippets with a semi-colon simply because I will very rarely if ever actually type semi-colon and then a phrase without putting a space between them. So, it’s highly unlikely that I will accidentally type one of my snippets and have it expand at the wrong time. So, what I do is I type, for example, ;ADHD combined. That’s one string. [00:08:00] That’s one whole phrase. That is my snippet. And automatically that expands into a string of texts that says, 314.01(F90.2), and then it tabs over and then it writes out ADHD, combined tight.
I’ve done that with all of the diagnoses that I’ve ever used in my report, or reports, I should say. At this point, it’s just automatic. Like if I have to look up a new diagnosis, I automatically put it in text expander so that I won’t ever have to look it up again.
So you can see this gets really handy where again, instead of typing that whole string, let alone, I mean, if you’ve memorized that that’s great, but you still have to type out that whole string of text whereas you can shorten that down to a snippet and just say [00:09:00] a semi-colon or sometimes people will use periods or sometimes people will use the letter X. Sometimes people will use an exclamation point. Whatever you want to do, but you type in your snippet and it expands into the diagnostic code that you want. Pretty awesome.
Another way that I have used TextExpander in kind of a similar way is to create a report signature and insert or report signature wherever I want. So one of the cool things about TextExpander is that you can use it to create shortcuts to images as well. So if you create an image file with your signature, which is relatively easy to do, you can do that in Canva. You can do that with a PDF editor. You can do that with a photo editor. That’s relatively easy. So once you have that image file of your signature, you [00:10:00] can use TextExpander to create a shortcut to it.
So I, for example, have a snippet that is ;JTS signature, and it automatically pops in that image file of my signature. And again, it just saves me that time of signing every single report, of having to go in and look for the image file, copy it, paste it, make sure it’s formatted the right way. It saves so much time. Granted, I’m probably talking, this is like 15 to 30 seconds, but it’s just so easy. And over the years, that really, really adds up. So that’s another way that you can use it simply by creating a shortcut that links to your signature.
Another way that you can use TextExpander, so, first of all, if you’re not using canned responses or email templates in Gmail or whatever email [00:11:00] provider you tend to use, you can use TextExpander to create an email. I always say never do anything twice, by which I mean, if you are typing out an email over and over and over that says the same exact thing, you should have a template for that. And a good way to do that is to again, use an email template that’s built into your email provider, or you could use something like TextExpander.
For example, if you have an email that gives people directions to your office or links to your intake paperwork, you can create a snippet for that. For me, the snippet would be ;welcome email or ;directions email, something like that. And it would automatically expand into the entire email that you tend to write for that purpose. [00:12:00] That’s just another way that you can use TextExpander.
So, these are all just pretty basic TextExpander functions, where you are just creating a snippet that expands into a longer bit of text. I use this method anyway to create shortcuts for paragraphs that I write a lot in reports. So, it might be like an explanation of ADHD or what a learning disorder is, things like that.
Another extension of that, that you can use TextExpander for is to create a template to populate recommendations. So again, you would just copy and paste your big recommendations bank template, and then you create a snippet for that. For me, it’d be ;adolescent ADHD combined recommendations. Now that’s a long snippet, [00:13:00] but that definitely beats typing a 10 item bulleted list with all of those recommendations. I created a video that you can find on my YouTube channel to insert files using the insert file function really quickly. I mean, that’s fast, but as not as fast as using this snippet.
Now I even use that method to create an entire report template that I can just pop into a word document. So, I could just type ;child template and it auto-populates the entire template on a new word document. You don’t have to take it that far, but you could.
So these are all, like I said, somewhat straightforward, fairly basic functions of TextExpander. You can see videos for each of those in the [00:14:00] show notes or blog posts, and also on the YouTube channel. But if you want to get a little bit more advanced, something that we did back when we were actually putting results sections in our reports, we don’t do that anymore, but when we did, we used TextExpander to create paragraphs with templated texts populated with dropdown menus.
One of the cool things about TextExpander is you can create an insert dropdown menus into the paragraphs or the expanded material that you’re trying to link your shortcut to. So for example, just writing a result section, we would often say, so-and-so’s verbal comprehension index score of blank fell in the blank range and indicates adequate skills that are comparable to same-age peers and tasks like defining words out [00:15:00] loud and making connections between abstract concept, something like that.
So in that whole paragraph, so there were a few sections there that can be easily tweaked in TextExpander to make it a lot quicker. So the majority of that text stays the same every single time you write it. You can use TextExpander though to specify the pieces of material that you have to change each time. So for us, that was the score and the range. So, I used TextExpander to… I wrote out that whole paragraph in the software program, created a snippet called ;VCI results, and then went back up and I inserted a short text field that is basically just like a blank box where you can write [00:16:00] whatever you want in this case, it would be the score. So I inserted a field and I also inserted a dropdown menu with all of the options for descriptive, qualitative ranges.
We use extremely high, very high, high, average, average, and so on down the line. So I created a dropdown menu with each of those options so that when I would type in ;VCI results, that paragraph pops up and it shows an empty box where the score goes that you can just move your cursor. And it also has a dropdown menu where you can choose the range that corresponds to the score, and then you hit, okay and it just pops into your text document with that information auto-populated.
Again, it gets complicated to explain over audio. I will acknowledge, I am not the most articulate [00:17:00] verbal expressor as evidenced by trying to even explain my difficulties with that. So, I strongly encourage you to go watch the video and check out how it actually works in action.
Now, you can do all sorts of things with TextExpander. There are built-in functions to immediately pop in the date to your documents. I’ve used it to create email signatures. You can nest snippets within snippets so that if you have a longer. It’s complicated. If you have a longer snippet that has lots of pieces of information that might change, you can embed snippets into one another so that you only have to change the one piece of information instead of editing the [00:18:00] larger snippet.
So again, it’s much easier to see this in the video. And I would encourage you to do that if you have not seen TextExpander in action.
I also want to give a shout out here at the end to Stephanie Nelson, once again, on the Peer Consult website that she maintains. She has a great post on TextExpander that I think goes over a lot of the same concepts. She’s a great writer, of course, and has some videos as well. So, there were a lot of resources out there. The TextExpander website is good. Their help section is really strong. And like I said, if you aren’t using it yet, it is definitely worth checking out, very inexpensive and it has saved a ton of time in my practice.
And today is really just scratching the surface of what it is capable of. I know that there are [00:19:00] plenty of advanced ways to use TextExpander that you can pursue, but I will leave that up to you.
One thing I will mention before I totally sign off today is that if you maintain or run a group practice, you can share snippets between staff members. That’s cool we have running in our practice where you can all have access to the same snippets so that your reports are consistent and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for your staff.
Okay. That is all I’m going to say about TextExpander here on the podcast. Again, check out the link to go to the videos. I think that will really help it come to life. Happy expanding.
Now, if you are interested in these kinds of strategies and other strategies that will help take your practice to the next level and help you become more efficient and streamlined, you might want to check out the Advanced Practice [00:20:00] Mastermind group. It will be starting here in about 3 or 4 weeks.
This is a group coaching experience for folks who are trying to take their practices to the next level. You’ve kind of mastered the beginning stages. You’ve got those referrals coming in, but you might find yourself in that messy middle, where you’re still doing most things. You know that there are systems that could be better and you just want some accountability to make those things happen, to implement all those ideas that you have.
So, in this group, it’ll be 5 or 6 psychologists all in the same stage of practice encouraging one another, building one another up, and keeping one another accountable. If that sounds interesting to you, go to thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced and schedule a pre-group home. And we can talk about whether it would be a good fit or not.
Okay, y’all, that’s it for this time. I hope that everyone is doing well and getting back into the routine with school, whatever that looks like. I will [00:21:00] catch you next time with another businessy episode or sorry, with a clinical episode. I think this coming Monday, we’re talking with Chris Mulchay about Child Custody Evals. So definitely check that one out. It is a good one.
All right, y’all, take care.
The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative [00:22:00] relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.