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[00:00:00] Hello everyone, and welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Many of y’all know that I have been using TherapyNotes as our practice EHR for over 10 years now. I’ve looked at others and I keep coming back to TherapyNotes because they do it all. If you’re interested in an EHR for your practice, you can get two free months of TherapyNotes by going to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code testing.

This podcast is brought to you in part by PAR.

The Clinical Assessment of Attention Deficit-Adult assesses symptoms of ADD and ADHD in adults. Now you can administer and score the CAT-A on PARiConnect- PAR’s online assessment platform. Visit parinc.com\cata.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to [00:01:00] The Testing Psychologist podcast.

Today’s episode is tackling another question that frequently comes up in my consulting, which is, what do I mean by SOPs and what are the most important SOPs to have in your practice? If you don’t know what an SOP is, don’t worry, I will define it and share why they’re important. We’ll also dig into common SOPs and how to craft even a simple version of an SOP to get you started.

If you’re a practice owner and you are building your practice, you’re scaling your practice, you’re hiring people, whatever it may be, I would love to support you along that practice journey. Not only do I have groups aimed at beginners, intermediate folks, and advanced folks, but I also have two spots for individual consulting that may still be open so we could work one-on-one to support you as you start or grow your practice. You can schedule a pre-consulting call and chat with me about [00:02:00] whether it’s a good fit at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting, which is where you can sign up and get that call on the calendar.

All right, let’s jump to this discussion about SOPs.

All right. Testing folks, what are we doing today? We are talking about SOPs.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest problems in scaling a business, even if that means just hiring an assistant, is finding a way to get knowledge out of your head and into the public or practice’s sphere of knowledge. I struggled with this in the beginning and over the years, to be honest, this is a continual problem [00:03:00] in our practice. It’s gotten a lot better though, and I’m going to tell you how big part of that was designing SOPs.

When I started hiring, it was honestly a complete shit show. I spent a lot of time trying to articulate how I had done things for the previous six years in the practice. Relatively little if nothing was written down and thus a lot of time and energy was wasted trying to train new hires and help them to understand how I’d been doing things over the years. Not to mention all the inconsistency. As much as I like routine and consistency, I admittedly made different decisions for the same problem in different contexts, and that was confusing, to say the least for folks and led to any number of difficulties over the years, especially when I was starting to bring folks on and grow the practice.

[00:04:00] Now, 10 years later, I’ve come to recognize the value of an SOP. We’re at the point that I can now search on our Google Workspace for our SOPs folder and find pretty much anything I need to do any job that exists in our practice from admin to counseling, to testing, to leadership.

So let’s dive in. Needless to say, I think SOPs are pretty important. They have truly transformed our practice.

So what is an SOP?

You probably heard this acronym. This is one of those standard business acronyms, but it stands for Standard Operating Procedure. It’s a fancy way of saying this is a document that explains how we do things in this business.

SOPs are meant to be relatively simple capturing, I would say the most important 80% of any given process or [00:05:00] system, and hopefully providing a roadmap for any new hires in your practice such that they could come on board, they could read the SOP and have a good approximation of how to do the job.

Now, they will typically have questions. There are always gaps to fill in, but the idea is that the SOP captures the most important 80%, maybe 90% of the job and gives people a nice springboard to work off of if they had to.

SOPs typically have a few main components, but again, we can keep it simple.

You want to start with a statement of purpose. What is this SOP and why is it important? For example, this SOP documents our standard process for onboarding new clients. It is important because we need to make sure our clients have a predictable, positive experience of scheduling their initial appointment with our practice. Pretty simple. So statement of purpose is the first thing to put on an SOP.

[00:06:00] The second component is the SOP itself, the process that you actually follow. Again, we want to keep this very simple. You want to start by highlighting the high-level steps in the process. For me, I like to write them down in an outline format on a Google Doc or a Word document.

Once you have the high-level key steps in the process, you can fill in 3 to 5 bullet points or details to help explain and illustrate that particular step in the process. And that’s it. If you want to up the game a little bit, you can utilize videos and screen recordings to document any aspects of the SOP that are amenable to it, which I find a lot of them are because a lot of it, especially on the admin side, are dealing with scheduling, working in software, things that happen on a computer.

[00:07:00] So you can record yourself doing the task on your own computer, narrate it out loud as you do it, and then upload the audio to a transcription service. And voila, you’ve got a detailed text description of your actions. If you want to go even further, you can then upload the transcription to an AI and have them summarize it and break out the key points.

And if all of that sounds overwhelming, you have software options that can help you with that whole process. A few that come to mind right away are Trainual, Whale, and Process Street I’ll link to all of those in the show notes for you to check out. We have personally used Trainual in our practice and liked it. These are software options that will help with both the screen recording and automatically converting the recording and any audio into a relatively [00:08:00] organized SOP or process document. So highly recommend you check those out. There’s no referral code or anything like that. No kickback. These are software products that I have used myself.

All right. With that background in place, I do want to answer the question of when to start making SOPs. People ask this a lot. When do I need an SOP? Well, for me, the simple answer is the day you start your business.

I had a guest on the podcast way back in the beginning. This was within probably the first 20 episodes. His name was Jaime Jay, a friend of mine. We talked about virtual assistants. He runs a virtual assistant company.

He has a phrase that really stuck with me. And the way that he presents it is you only want to do anything once if possible. What he means by that is, [00:09:00] the day that you start your business, you never know when you’re going to want to hand off some of those tasks, and the idea is to capture the process as early as possible so that you maybe don’t have to do it again, or you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. So we do that by creating an SOP. It’s much easier to edit or amend an existing SOP than to create it from scratch on a deadline. Believe me. I have gone through this process. Plus you typically have more time to create SOPs before you get saturated with clients and staff.

Let’s take a break to hear from a featured partner.

Y’all know that I love TherapyNotes, but I am not the only one. They have a 4. 9 out of 5-star rating on trustpilot.com and Google, which makes them the number one rated Electronic Health Record system available for mental health folks today.

They make billing, scheduling, note-taking, and [00:10:00] telehealth all incredibly easy. They also offer custom forms that you can send through the portal. For all the prescribers out there, TherapyNotes is proudly offering e prescribe as well. And maybe the most important thing for me is that they have live telephone support seven days a week. So you can talk to a real person in a timely manner.

If you’re trying to switch from another EHR, the transition is incredibly easy. They’ll import your demographic data free of charge. So you can get going right away. So if you’re curious or you want to switch or you need a new EHR, try TherapyNotes for two months, absolutely free. You can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code “testing”. Again, totally free, no strings attached, check it out and see why everyone is switching to TherapyNotes.

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And so unless you’re a very special person, creating SOPs is not the most fun or sexy activity, but they are crucial. So let’s talk about which SOPs are most important. I found that the easiest way to identify SOPs is honestly to think through the client journey in your practice because it will touch nearly every aspect of your work.

Here’s what I mean. First, clients have to find your practice and reach out somehow. This flows [00:12:00] to what I would call a marketing or lead generation SOP. Some of this overlaps with a business plan. I’ll be honest. We’re not going to call it that. This is more of an internal document that others can follow. So it helps to answer the questions of where are you getting referrals. How do those referrals contact you? Whether it’s email or phone or both, a contact form, whatever that might be. How many referrals are you shooting for each week or month? Who’s responsible for the marketing in your practice? So these are all common questions to put on the lead generation or marketing SOP. So that’s the first step in the client journey.

The second one is once clients reach out, I think about what is the sales process. So sales process sounds funny in our business, but I truly believe that every phone call you get with a potential client is a sales call. So this SOP addresses [00:13:00] the phone script and scheduling of the initial appointment. It dips into material like, do you prefer intakes on certain days? How do you discuss your fees on the first phone call? What is a summary of the script? What key points are you hitting during that phone script? Are you checking benefits right then? Or do you do it later on? What do you tell them about expecting paperwork? It’s that sort of thing. So what does that first phone call look like and what are the processes around scheduling that initial appointment with you?

After the initial appointment, clients go through testing and feedback. So in my mind, each of those deserves their own SOP. Testing-wise, it could be, what does the testing day look like? Is it one, two, three, or more days? How many hours is each appointment? Which measures do you use? How do you decide on the measures to use? [00:14:00] Once we transition to feedback, it’s things like how long are feedback sessions, are reports ready at feedback or later.

As a side note, I think report writing could have its own SOP as well but you see where I’m going here with these steps in the client journey, everything the client does, essentially you can write an SOP for that aspect of the practice.

Now, on the billing side, finance is huge, so you should have an SOP for all things finance; things like what are the fees, how are fees determined, especially if you have a sliding scale, how do you do that? How are fees collected? What happens if someone doesn’t pay? Who collects the fees? If you take insurance, this would also include who handles insurance issues.

So at that point, we [00:15:00] have covered lead generation, initial reach out, scheduling, testing and feedback, and report writing and billing or finance. So that’s a pretty good swath of information. If you can document processes for each of those aspects of your practice, you’re going to be way ahead of most folks in private practice. And again, the idea is to capture 80% to 90% of the process so that someone could plug and play for lack of a better term into this position and have a pretty good idea of what to do.

Now, as your practice grows, my guess is you can write any number of other SOPs. I went and counted ours a few weeks ago. We have something between 20 and 30 SOPs, things like how do we welcome a new staff member? What do our staff get-togethers look like? Who schedules [00:16:00] those things? So we have a lot on the staff engagement and wellness side. We, of course, have hiring SOPs, we have a cancellation policy, all kinds of policies. So any of those things are amenable to SOPs, but to start, especially if you’re a solo practitioner, I think going through the client journey is a great place to begin.

You can continue to build on these basic SOPs, but like I said, these are plenty to get you started. As you write them, I would just think about what needs to be on this document in order for someone to step in, read it, and largely be able to do the job without any other input. So, like I said, not necessarily exciting. Although some of you will probably be very excited by this and I get you.

That said, just get started, and do as many as you can. This is a great weekend activity or [00:17:00] downtime activity, things like that. If you do have an admin person already in place, it’s a great activity for the administrative staff for them to take the first stab at any SOPs and then you get to edit rather than create.

So lots of ways to go about this. Like I said, check out the software that I listed linked in the show notes and get started on some SOPs. It’s going to pay off immensely in the long run when you don’t have to answer a million questions about how to do everything in your practice. So good luck and happy creating.

All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes. So make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you [00:18:00] listen to your podcasts.

If you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist mastermind groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice, development, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this [00:19:00] podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website are 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 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.

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