Managing Mental Health Practice

Donald E. Wiger, PhD

Course Outline

The step-by-step guide to building and managing a profitable and successful practice or clinic

Beyond your training as a therapist, the skills required to create and build a practice and to supervise others are typically not taught as part of your clinical training. There are myriad decisions you must make, including financial, organizational, and marketing decisions, that will determine the success and profitability of your practice, group practice, or clinic.

The Well-Managed Mental Health Practice draws from author Donald Wiger’s vast experience as owner and manager of both small and large mental health practices and clinics. This helpful resource provides sound business practices, immediately useful insights into the accrediting process, and other critical information you will need to avoid legal trouble, ensure payment from individuals and third party payors, and create a thriving practice.

Designed for practices or clinics of any size and at any stage of development–from start-up through mature business–this easy-to-follow book looks at all the issues involved with starting and running a mental health practice and offers:

  • Practical advice on how to increase business, develop your professional reputation, and set priorities, as well as helpful insights on customer service, employee relations, time management, and coping with stress
  • Indispensable tools for developing business and management skills to ensure smooth operation and maximum profitability
  • Useful tips for handling problems encountered by clinic directors and clinic decision-makers Numerous sample forms and procedural documents

A vital reference for a wide range of mental health professionals, The Well-Managed Mental Health Practice is an important guide that will equip you with the skills necessary to develop a financially successful practice that survives and thrives.

About Authors

Donald E. Wiger, PhD, runs a large mental health clinic in St. Paul and is an adjunct professor at Argosy University School of Professional Psychology. He is the author of numerous books, including essentials of Crisis Counseling and Intervention and The Clinical Documentation Sourcebook, Third Edition, also from Wiley.

Learning Objectives

After completing this course you’ll be able to:

  1. Compare a small mental health private practice a larger clinic.
  2. List the three global skills necessary for the therapist/manager and describe each of their skills.
  3. State the most difficult aspect of growing into management.
  4. Describe how promotions should be handled.
  5. Discuss why some managers view empowerment as threatening.
  6. List two reasons potential clients phone another clinic rather than wait for a callback.
  7. State the value and positive attributes of the receptionist.
  8. Discuss the survey of 40 mental health clinics.
  9. Describe office location.
  10. Compare a graduated lease and long-term lease.
  11. List negative and positive aspects of working with managed care.
  12. Describe methods of research when obtaining benefits and drawbacks of third-party payers.
  13. List several items that managed care companies may require.
  14. Describe provisions for a nonprovider.
  15. State why you should apply for Medicare and Medicaid prior to applying for managed care.
  16. Describe how to remain a provider.
  17. Describe what to include in a clinic brochure.
  18. State what to do with brochures.
  19. List the five main points when you receive referrals from fellow professionals and briefly describe each.
  20. Describe advertising in “The Yellow Pages.”
  21. Discuss creating a Web site.
  22. Discuss consistency and problems that arise from inconsistency.
  23. State the main point of job descriptions.
  24. Describe the process of reference checks and methods of screening employees.
  25. State the manager’s first business responsibility.
  26. Discuss the options of billing.
  27. Describe how to obtain continuing education approval when presenting a seminar.
  28. Discuss printing costs when conducting a seminar.
  29. Describe several benefits of teaching.
  30. Discuss writing progress notes.
  31. Discuss when treatment plans should be written.
  32. Describe dictation services available.
  33. List problems that occur when bills are excused.
  34. Discuss payment contracts with clients.
  35. State what you should do when an insurance claim is rejected.
  36. Compare policies and procedures.
  37. Describe a business plan.
  38. Discuss delinquent accounts.
  39. Describe a sliding fee.
  40. Describe a clinic fee schedule.
  41. State the policy for interns.
  42. State the functions of a utilization review committee.
  43. Discuss the OFAID procedure.
  44. Describe sources from which to collect clinical data.
  45. Compare essential and associated symptoms.
  46. Describe the three-column treatment plan.
  47. Describe the DAP progress note.
  48. Describe the procedure if a client has a plan for suicide.
  49. State how to survive an audit.

Course Contents

Part A: Building a Practice


  1. Basic Mental Health Care Management Principles
  2. Customer Service
  3. Obtaining Third-Party Contracts and Working with Managed Care
  4. Other Means of Obtaining Referrals
  5. Hiring, Training, Paying, and Keeping Employees
  6. Developing a Positive Professional Reputation
  7. Effective Time Management
Part B: Administrative and Documentation Procedures
  1. Billing Procedures
  2. Administrative, Clinical, and Safety Policies and Procedures
  3. Documentation Procedures

End-of-Book Humor