I have a few questions but just want to give you some context first. A few months ago my agency closed. I was overseeing registered interns through grant funding and a county contract in 3 different cities, primarily providing counseling at schools. Instead of starting my own practice, I decided to start a mental health program with a different organization who already provided services in these three different cities. The contract has been transferred to them, waiting on the grant and hope to get on an insurance panel soon. Here are my questions:
Thank you for your questions. They’re difficult in that situations vary for all 3 of these items, but I’ll do my best. Please know that you should really double-check everything I say, especially as it applies to liability insurance.
Q: The organization has $2,000,000 liability coverage for its employees, but I understand mental health liability is separate from this. Is this true? How much liability do I need? And does every individual working the mental health program (registered interns,student trainees, licensed therapists) need to be individually covered through this or just the clinical supervisor and myself?
A: Well, it depends on what type of liability insurance they have. They may have “general liability,” which is insurance that might help if someone slips and falls. They might have insurance that protects them if an employee sues them. They might have insurance that protects them if a manger in the company dies. These might all be considered “liability” insurances in some way, as they help to reduce outstanding liabilities. The insurance you’re looking for is professional liability insurance—the type provided by APA (American Professional Agency) and HPSO, and others. Typical insurance is $1-million incident, $3-million total. However, some people are now opting (or required in some cases) to hold a $2-million, $4-million policy. It is likely that every provider and intern needs to be listed on such a policy.
Q: I know salary scales are different in every state, city. But what have you found to be the best place to see what a good salary for clinicians are. Is hourly better, or part-time and full-time salary? Or do you have all of the above depending on each situation.
A: Salaries vary indeed! And vary greatly in the mental health space, and vary drastically when comparing fully-licensed providers with intermediate-level or intern-level providers. For your area, you might want to check Salary.com, or—probably even better—if you know other professionals working in the field; perhaps they’d be willing to give you a range.
Q: What is a good case load for a part-timer (#of clients and hours per day/week) and what’s a good case load for a full-timer (#of clients and hours per day/week)? Thanks so much. The answers to these questions would be so helpful right now.
A: This is a touchy subject—possibly more of a hot button issue than you might realize. I tend to think a fulltime therapist, if providing 45-53 minute sessions, can do about 30-35 per week. I know lots of therapists who consistently provide 40+ sessions a week, and also other therapists who believe 30 clients a week will drive them to burnout. It’s really a very personal decision based on the energy level and abilities of the therapist.
As for part-time—that can be anything. You’ll need to decide for yourself at what point it doesn’t make sense to bring on a team member. For example, it might not make pragmatic sense to bring on a team member who sees only 3 clients a week, due to the time, effort and costs of the management and ongoing training every team member requires.
Agatha, I hope these answers were helpful to you!