Online Counseling Business Practices
2 Hours
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD, LPC-MHSM, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counselor Education
Host: Counselor Toolbox
~ Provide information about website development
~ Discuss search engine optimization
~ Identify ways to attract clients and market
~ Review methods for accepting payment and setting appointments
Website Development
~ Website development services.
~ Choose your domain name
~ Any other site where you can purchase a domain
~ Identify who is going to do all your IT stuff
~ Identify your web host (where your website will “live”)

Web Development
~ Video and Other Client Services
~ Must provide a BAA..Just having HIPAA compliant standards is not enough.
~ Video (required for insurance reimbursement)
~ As of 2017 some companies which offer this service include…
~ Vsee
~ Thera-link
~ Luxsci
~ Email
~ SMS/Chat programs
Choosing the Format for Your Website
~ WordPress
~ Blog type format
~ Easily updated
~ Very little programming knowledge needed
~ Purchase pre-constructed themes
~ Purchase pre-constructed themes
~ Cannot be updated on the fly (static presence)
~ Must use software on your computer or login to the website host to modify your website

Site Development
~ Keep it clean. Less is more
~ Review other well ranked similar sites for ideas
~ Use relevant (optimized) pictures
~ Pay attention to the tone your colors set
~ Get 3 friends to review
~ Target visual zones using the 1-Mississippi test
~ Figure out what your customers want and ask your beta testers to find it
Required Content
~ Home page (your “lobby”)
~ About Us
~ Why would a client want to choose you
~ What is your approach
~ Hours and location (link to Google, yahoo maps)
~ Services and Fees
~ What you offer
~ Cost of services
~ Insurances accepted (in or out of network)
Content cont…
~ Policies
~ Informed consent
~ HIPPA/HITECH policies
~ Emergency after-hours number and/or procedure
~ Contact us
~ Phone number
~ Secure email form (with disclaimer)
~ Mailing and physical address
Content cont…
~ General information and articles
~ Provide useful content
~ Become an affiliate of companies who offer related products (books, biofeedback devices, essential oils…)
~ Use descriptive links to direct people to useful self-help and support websites
SEO Optimization
~ Page key word density
~ Pay attention to current search engine optimization trends (i.e. what Google, yahoo and other search engines like and don’t like)
~ Don’t gray out a list of random key words
~ Try to focus on less than 30 key words
~ Use metatags and descriptions.
~ Google “keyword selector” or “Keyword picker” to find current tools
~ Pay attention to page titles
~ Provide frequently updated, relevant, UNIQUE content

SEO Cont.
~ For more information
~ Google “overview SEO” for the most up to date articles
~ Hire a consultant

~ Twitter
~ Instagram
~ Pinterest
~ Google AdWords
~ Facebook Advertising
~ Facebook Page
~ Facebook Group
~ United Way Information and Referral
~ Specialty Organizations (PTSD, Addiction, etc)
~ Psychology Today

~ Paypal
~ Invoice
~ Prior to purchase
~ Credit Cards
~ Merchant Accounts (Stripe,, etc)
~ Paypal
~ Insurance
~ In Network
~ Out of Network
~ Running a successful online counseling practice depends on people being able to find you
~ Related, useful content will:
~ Draw in users
~ Get shared and increase your exposure
~ Many insurance companies will reimburse for online counseling billed with special modifiers
~ Online therapy has some technical challenges
~ It can improve customer accessibility and satisfaction.