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Pros and Cons of Adding Provisionally-Licensed Therapists to Your Group Practice

By Maureen Werrbach, LCPC on July 10, 2019
Pros and Cons of Adding Provisionally-Licensed Therapists to Your Group Practice - TherapyNotes with Maureen Werrbach

Many group practice owners think about bringing on a therapist who isn't fully licensed to their group practice, whether that be an intern or a provisionally-licensed therapist. Often we see this when they can’t find a fully-licensed therapist, but be aware: making the decision to employ a non-fully-licensed therapist should be made with intention and not on a whim. Here are some things to think about:

  • Does it align with your business vision and needs?
  • Do you have the time to dedicate to supervising and supporting them?
  • Do you have the time to market a provisionally-licensed therapist or intern?
  • Are you listening to your community’s needs?

Group practices who bring on a provisionally-licensed therapist or an intern often talk about the benefits of doing so. From training future therapists to serving the community better, below are a handful of reasons group practices find having unlicensed or provisionally-licensed therapists in their group practices to be beneficial:

  • The practice has the ability to help more members of the community who cannot otherwise afford your full fee.
  • The practice has the opportunity to train future therapists.
  • Provisionally-licensed therapists and interns are sometimes more invested in the practice and stay longer because they are receiving supervision and need the support.
  • Interns and provisionally-licensed therapists are often more malleable, more willing to learn and receive support, and take direction better than fully-licensed therapists.
  • Experienced staff enjoy using their supervisory skills and putting that supervisory training to use.

However, bringing on a non-independently-licensed therapist also comes with some obstacles, such as:

  • Marketing interns and provisionally-licensed therapists is usually very different than marketing fully-licensed therapists. It takes work and effort to market them (and in a different way than marketing insurance-accepting, private pay, or fully-licensed therapists).
  • Not many insurance providers allow billing for provisionally-licensed therapists or interns (you need to check with each insurance provider), potentially making it harder to find clients for them.
  • They are a lot of work. A lot of supervision and hand-holding needs to happen to effectively support a learning therapist. If you don’t have the time, it may become overwhelming.
  • It is not typically as financially supportive as hiring fully-licensed therapists. Many group practices who employ interns accept that they won't result in any financial boost.

If you decide to bring on a provisionally-licensed therapist or an intern, remember to think about your goal for bringing them on, what the community needs, and how you can best support that role.

What is your experience with hiring interns or provisionally-licensed therapists? Let us know in the comments below!

* 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.
Maureen Werrbach, LCPC

About Maureen Werrbach, LCPC

Maureen Werrbach, LCPC, is a therapist and owner of Urban Wellness, a counseling group practice in Chicago. She started Urban Wellness in 2012, which has grown into a team of 20+ clinicians with multiple locations. Maureen is also the owner of The Group Practice Exchange (TGPE), a consulting business and platform for current and aspiring group practice owners. TGPE provides guidance for starting a group practice, as well as marketing, organizational structuring, business development, and leadership advice. Visit www.thegrouppracticeexchange.com for more.

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