Income Ideas for Testing Psychologists During COVID-19

By Jeremy Sharp, Ph.D. on May 5, 2020

Hello again, everyone! I hope you’re all holding up during this trying time. If you’re like me, you’re busy juggling several balls in your practice, just trying to stay afloat. While therapists can transition to telehealth relatively easily, it’s been much harder to make the leap with assessment. With the shutdown continuing for the foreseeable future and no clear path toward in-person testing, we have to be creative and find other ways to generate income. Here, we'll highlight alternative streams of income for testing psychologists. While some of these options may take you out of your lane and require you to put yourself out there a bit more than usual, now is the time to be brave!

Disclaimer: Do not practice outside your scope of expertise.

Put On Your Coaching Hat

Many of us make a variety of recommendations in our evaluations. Now is the time to go through those recommendations and figure out which of them you are qualified to help your clients implement. This might be parent training around a particular behavior management approach, cognitive skills training or cognitive rehab, executive functioning coaching, or even tutoring. The majority of these services can be short-term, which is important—we’re not trying to generate long-term clients that will encroach on your testing time down the road.

Move Toward Non-cognitive Evaluations, If Possible

Though there is a growing body of resources and research to support tele-assessment, many psychologists are not comfortable administering full cognitive batteries over the internet. This is when we might turn toward batteries that focus more intently on interviewing, personality measures, and behavior checklists, a process that is likely easier if you see adults. Examples include substance use evaluations, pre-adoption evaluations, and the like. Doing so may require that you rearrange your schedule to get these folks in quicker so that you can finish the evaluations and have time for the longer batteries when we resume in-person appointments.

Review Evaluations for Other Agencies

There are a number of ways to utilize our assessment skills without actually doing assessment. One of these is through reviewing records. Look for entities that need qualified psychologists to look over evaluations and other records in order to provide a qualified opinion. Examples include local DHS departments, attorneys, the College Board and other standardized testing boards, or even (gasp!) reviewing pre-authorization requests for insurance panels.

Provide Supervision

This option may take some time to get off the ground. That said, there are often plenty of unlicensed (or even licensed) individuals out there who are looking for assessment supervision. You can advertise in a number of places, including your local mental health Facebook group, state psychological association, local internship or post-doc sites, or local community mental health newsletter.

Provide Consultation to Other Health Care Providers

While we may be out of the assessment game for now, many other health care practitioners are still seeing folks day in and day out over telehealth, and they need support with patients! We psychologists who are skilled at diagnostics and recommendations can be very valuable here. If you have relationships with local medical practices, now is a great time to reach out and let them know that you offer consultation services. You may schedule a daily or weekly call with the providers to talk through difficult cases, paid at an hourly or monthly “retainer” rate.

Online Support Groups

So many people are home and desperate for connection right now. If you have the skill set and tech know-how, consider a time-limited online support group for your specialty populations. You may try a home-schooling parent support group, a support group for parents of ADHD kids, a group for adult children caring for their own parents, an online social skills group for kids on the spectrum (build a Lego set together!), or any others that your clients need.

These are a few things to consider while testing is slower than usual. And if you don’t want to do any of these things, you have mine and everyone else’s permission to just be present, be stressed, be lazy, or be however you want during this crazy time if it helps keep you sane.

Take care, everyone.

* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.

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