Planning for the Unexpected - what should you do with your Therapy Practice

Do you have a plan in place if you were suddenly unable to work as a therapist? | Have you thought about who should know what?

If you suddenly couldn't work as a therapist, what would happen to your therapy practice?

I first wrote this blog after the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2022.  We witnessed the rolling out of the well-laid plans to manage her funeral and the succession of Prince Charles to the Throne.

Observing these got me thinking about what plans therapists should, perhaps, have in place to manage major life changes, such as serious illness, or even, their own death.

Many people don’t want to think about these types of situations, as they make us feel uncomfortable and can raise strong emotions when discussed.

In our private lives, most of us have made a Will expressing our wishes. Some may have also taken out a Lasting Power of Attorney to help manage our situation.

Few of us, myself included, have left written instructions or provision for either temporarily or permanently closing our therapy practices. And we should.

What do you need to have in place if you’re incapacitated and can’t run your therapy practice? (or you die suddenly)

I have some things in place, but I realised that I needed to have specific instructions for my husband, friend, or someone, such as another therapist or executor, to be able to, either temporarily close or wind up my practice.

The process would be different depending on if you were incapacitated, e.g. ill in hospital for a long period after an accident or infection, or had died. In the latter case (in the UK), you should lay out in your Will, your plans for your business. Your executor would then be responsible for ensuring your instructions were carried out.

Areas to consider for your therapy practice if you are ill or die

I’ve tried to think of the main areas that would require some form of action or instruction.

  • Contacting existing clients cancelling sessions

If you can’t, then somebody needs to be able to access your client contact details and cancel sessions. You also need to consider what happens with your client records. If you can’t work but are still alive then you may need to keep records, as stipulated in your insurance cover. Mine is for five years. If you have died then they will need to be securely disposed of.

  • Referring to other therapists

You could draw up a list of five or six therapists whom you know, like and trust, that could be sent to clients. You would need to keep it updated.

  • Banking

Do you have a second person who is able to access your Bank Account, with their own login. Invoices and payments still need to be made. Any sessions paid in advance need refunding.

  • Website

What happens to your website? You may get someone, (your webmaster!) to put up a page saying you aren’t taking clients or that you are deceased. If the latter, you might leave instructions for the site to be taken down.

  • Email accounts

I don’t know about you but I have tons of emails coming in from different businesses that I’ve signed up for, from downloading a free offer to having bought a course. I have a separate gmail account which I have set to close down if no activity is seen for two months.

  • Social media accounts

These could be closed down or deleted. You will need to have a list of them somewhere with relevant access instructions, e.g. passwords

  • Professional memberships

If you are a member of professional bodies then these may need pausing or cancelling. You will need a record of your membership numbers

  • Business listings

You are probably listed on a number of these, both paid for and free. Have a list of them with relevant access instructions so they can be paused, deleted or cancelled.

  • Passwords

I have loads of passwords for many different things from Amazon to my Zenler-hosted website. You may want to keep a secure list somewhere or have a master password with one of the apps you can use.

  • Insurance

You will have professional liability and indemnity insurance, this too will need stopping or pausing. You need to have those contact details available.

  • Therapy consulting room

If you rent you’ll need to have the contact details held somewhere so they can be given notice and/or cancelled. If you use a secure video-calling software for client sessions that will need cancelling or pausing too.

  • Books

I have many, many therapy and coaching related books. What do you want to do with them - give them to colleagues, sell them or give them to a charity shop?

All these actions would also require some form of letter authorising the person. This would probably need setting up in advance with the various organisations, some would perhaps be easier to do than others. You would probably need other documentation too, perhaps a letter from a GP or hospital. If you die then your executor will need, among other documentation, a copy of the death certificate.

If you think of something that I’ve missed let me know. I’m off to write a plan!

Remember to connect with me on social media.

    Categories: : Private Practice, self-employment