A hybrid practice sounds great in theory but can quickly turn into a scheduling nightmare! I have had the opportunity to talk with many therapists to brainstorm schedules that work to balance in-person sessions with remote teletherapy. Following are some thoughts and reflections on this creative process. I welcome your feedback and invite you to join me in this new endeavor, as we start to think outside the screen!
The pandemic shifted our priorities and created new possibilities for the future. It provided us with an opportunity to work from home, limit our commute, and focus on what matters. Our practices changed, and so did our perception of teletherapy. For some therapists, the transition was seamless; clients adapted easily, and the quality of therapy improved, with more time to focus on self and family.
For other therapists, the transition remains rocky; tele-therapy doesn’t cut it, their clients are struggle and they yearn to return to a safe space. There are therapists who have no desire of returning to the office, and others who miss the intimacy created in a safe therapy room.
First, take an honest assessment of who you are, and what is needed for yourself and your practice. Before designing a hybrid practice, it's important to critically reflect on your needs and capacities. Following are a few reflections to guide the process:
Pause. Breath. Ponder. Choose. Once you have decided what feels right for you and your clients, then its time to get creative! In the following section I’ve suggested simple scheduling solutions that have the least impact on your clients schedule. In some scenarios I've also suggested “super organized” solution for those who can handle it. Let’s dive right in!
Quarterly Office Sessions (every 2-3 months)
The simple elegant solution is to schedule a “Week at the Office” every few months. In this scenario you don't need to move any of your clients around. Simply book a Visitor Pass and then let your clients know which week you will be providing in-person sessions and allow your clients to choose whether they will join you remotely or in-person. The benefits are that everyone gets a fair chance to see you in-person.
If you're unable to provide a whole week at the office, then you need get super organized. Start by choosing your "office days". You can choose these based on personal preferences, or you can invite your clients feedback and preferences via an online scheduler like Doodle.
Once you have chosen your office days, the following steps will help get you organized:
Monthly Office Sessions (1 or 2 days/month):
The simple scheduling solution is to offer "Weekend Office Visits". While this may sound unusual at first, it has a number of benefits: (i) since the weekend is typically a more relaxed time to catch up with friends and family, it provides clients with a more intimate connection (ii) some clients are more flexible during the weekend, (iii) your week load will be lighter on the weeks that you offer Weekend Office Visits since some of your clients will cancel their zoom sessions in exchange for meeting you in person. With more breaks during the week, you can also re-frame it as your monthly “catch up week". Catch up with paperwork during the week, and catch up with clients in-person on the weekend. Simply book a Day Pass in advance and open the possibility to your clients.
Not keen to meet with clients in the weekend? Another simple scheduling solution is to rotate your in-office days each month. For example, say you've decided that you'll go to the office on the first week of each month -- but only for one (or two) days. So on the first month, you offer your Monday clients the opportunity to meet with you on the first Monday of the month. On the On the next month, you book a Day Pass for the first Tuesday of the month. The coming month, book a room for the first Wednesday of the month and give your Wednesday clients a chance to see you. And so forth. This new rhythm provides equal opportunity for your clients to see you in-person.
Weekly Office Visits:
Simple scheduling approach 1 is to assign specific weekday(s) for in-office sessions, for example, "every Tuesday and Thursday". In this case, you may want to consider a standard Daily Sublease. The benefits of this approach is that you can create a hybrid practice with more routine and structure for yourself and family. If you have some wiggle room with your schedule and not sure which days to offer, you may consider asking your clients for feedback. You can also use an online scheduling tool, such as Doodle, to determine what days work best.
(My personal favorite) Simple scheduling approach 2 is remarkably elegant if you have access to flexible therapy rooms. Simply keep your clients on their normal schedule and create a rotating in-office schedule, i.e. rotate between each day of the week. For example, on the first week of the month, you offer in-person sessions to your Monday clients. On the second week of the month, you offer in-person sessions to your Tuesday clients. On the third week, you welcome your Wednesday clients, and so forth. This is the simplest way to offer equal opportunity for in-person sessions without disrupting your current schedule.
Regular/Daily Office Visits
For many therapists, teletherapy just doesn't cut it. It feels inadequate, disconnected and/or a disruptive to the daily work/life balance. Understandably, it will be some time before all of your clients return to the office, and even then, some may prefer to stay online. When looking for a dedicated space, you'll want to consider how the space is managed, what overhead costs you will have, as well Wi-Fi reliability.
For therapists with a full-time practice, now is the time to get ahead and secure a dedicated room (we only have a few left) or a daily sublease. The future of therapy rooms is a little unpredictable as many previous therapy suites have terminated their leases. One of the perks of renting a dedicated room at Sima Space is that all your subtenants get a free Flex Plan. This will help you secure subtenants with ease.
For therapists with a small, or part-time practice, keep in mind that our model was built for you. The Flex Plan is our most popular plan and allows you to return to in-office sessions with minimal commitment and maximum flexibility. Book our rooms on an hourly ($25/hr) or daily ($90/hr) basis depending on your needs.
Still undecided? Too many options can leave us confused. I'm happy to chat and brainstorm.
Schedule a tour with us and I'd be happy to explore your options together.