Vacation. It’s a dilemma. Do you pack your schedule before you leave on vacation and start the time off drained and worried? Or do you wait until you get back and feel as if you never left?
I have done both. Neither are pleasant. And what is it about leaving that makes your most fragile clients need you more? (This is completely anecdotal, but you are all nodding your heads in agreement–cue transference.) I have a solution. It’s something I was slow to embrace, (read: kicking and screaming) but ten years later with a robust coaching and telehealth practice, I wholeheartedly endorse the idea. Making money while on vacation.
How it works: I typically take six weeks of vacation a year. Three of those are off limit weeks. I close down and boundary myself accordingly. Three of those weeks are open to telehealth or coaching.
This last month, I spent two weeks on the west coast. It was glorious to sit in my rental house, with the sea breezes wafting in while I spent time with my coaching practice on the phone. Each morning I would work and each afternoon, I would explore. The change in scenery energized my sessions. The different perspective added, well, a different perspective for both the coach and client.
At least one week a year, I am on a staycation at home. Family usually visits, and I have no plans to go to the office. However, I work from home, in my private practice with folks I see regularly–except I offer telehealth sessions. I work in the state where I am licensed and my clients are usually up for the break from the commute to see me. If not, I reschedule them for an office visit. If it’s around the holidays, I get better retention and less cancellations; everyone is grateful for the time when they have a busy schedule. I usually follow a similar schedule; practice in the morning and vacation in the afternoon. I have a dedicated, quiet, confidential space in my home that mimics my office space. I am well trained in telehealth and use a variety of techniques that optimize the experience.
This schedule of working while vacationing also gives me some consistent income coming in while I am undoubtedly, spending more. It lessens the anxiety of a decrease in monthly income and usually allows for a calmer re-entry.
The key to private practice these days is flexibility while practicing ethically. That means, no compromising on boundaries, rules around confidentiality and professionalism. For example, I don’t see clients in coffee houses, speak to them while I am walking the dog or in a busy place.
I do mimic my office setting, take the same types of notes and bill accordingly. If you use Ivy or Square or TheraNest, all of these translate quite well to an out of office practice. Hushmail ensures that no matter what device you are using to set appointment times or sending records, you are in compliance with HIPAA.
So, embrace this pivot out of traditional psychotherapy and make it work for you. Enjoy the mountain air or sea breezes while you work.