Therapist Spotlight: Starting Out in Private Practice & Practicing Empathy with Melissa Michel

This Therapist Spotlight is a part of our interview series with experienced Mental Health Practitioners, where therapists share their experiences in Private Practice Therapy.
What was one of the biggest problems you struggled with and ultimately solved in the beginning of your private practice? What solution did you find to your (perhaps persisting) problem?
Getting on insurance panels was confusing at first, however once I found and figured out the CAQH application site, it was much easier. The more applications I filled out, the easier it became to get on panels. I also had to research a few options for electronic billing and ended up finding one that I was happy with for a great price.
What advice would you give to a budding mental health practitioner just getting licensed?
I would document all training, tell them to ask their supervisor as many questions as they can during the licensing process, and be prepared to work for a few bigger counseling organizations before opening their own practice.
What advice would you have given yourself early in your career?
Earlier in my career, I may have advised myself to go to medical school to do psychiatry as it is a field in demand. It is a lot more years of schooling, but if I had known earlier, I could have gone the medical route and carried a medical license. I do know had I gone that route, I might miss out on the helping patients through psychotherapy. I am happy with where I am now. It is easier to live in the present than consider what might I have done differently; something I advise my clients to do often as well – live in the present.
Do you see any persisting or upcoming problems in the private practice industry. If so, how do you handle them?
Some recent changes being implemented can feel daunting such as the DSM 5 and implementation of ICD-10 coding for the 2015 year. I just find articles to read to prepare myself and rely on my billing software to implement these changes so my billing remains hassle-free.
Please let us know about you: where are you located, any specialties, credentials, and educational background. How should someone get in touch with you?
My practice is located in Upper Saint Clair at Pinebridge Commons, 1580 McLaughlin Run Road, Suite 210, 15241. I have my LPC as well as my National Counseling Credentialing and PA Guidance Certification. I have worked on longitudinal depression and anxiety studies at the University of Pittsburgh for years and have extensive experience treating adolescents and young adults. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh and my Masters in Counseling Psychology at Chatham University. I graduated in 2007 from Chatham and was licensed by 2009. I have worked in the mental health field for over 12 years.
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