There are so many reasons to consider working as a location independent therapist. You can travel the world while doing work you love, and when you’re your own boss you can set up your schedule in a way that allows you to make time for whatever matters most to you outside of work. However, having a portable business comes with its own set of challenges so it’s important to have the right tools to help things run as smoothly as possible. This is especially true if you’re working with clients who are located around the world.
Here are 10 tools for location independent therapists that we’ve found to be helpful working in our own businesses and working with clients across borders and time zones.
Tools for Location Independent Therapists: Working and meeting across time zones
- One of the challenges facing location-independent practitioners and their clients is the issue of time zones and making sure wires don’t get crossed when scheduling appointments. Time and Date is our favorite tool for location independent therapists when it comes to helping you plan meetings across multiple time zones, allowing you to convert times across locations. We actually use this a lot ourselves when trying to figure out when we could meet for our next admin LIT call for example, as our LIT Team is currently spread across the US, Europe, and Australia (and yes, we are rarely awake all at the same time).
- Doodle is a tool for location independent therapists which allows you to skip the back-and-forth often needed in order to find a mutually agreeable time when organising things via email. It can be used for 1-1 meetings or to gather groups of 3+. Depending on the plan level, it can sync with Google and Outlook calendars and plugs into Zoom, making things a little more automated for you – almost always a good thing. A pro account is required to remove ads and avail of the more advanced features such as syncing meetings to calendars, setting deadlines and reminders, and requesting details such as email, phone, and address. But we have been very happy with the free version so far ourselves.
- Google Calendar – if like us, you use Google calendar to plan your work and life, you might find it helpful to set up two time zones in your Google Calendar. This is especially helpful when working with clients in a specific time zone (your home country while being abroad for example) or to know when your business partner might be awake.
Tools for Location Independent Therapists: Scheduling client sessions
While you can of course just email back and forth with clients or schedule the next session at the end of the previous one, we do recommend investing in a scheduling system especially when working across time zones. These systems will not only make sure your clients can choose their time zone for each appointment (especially useful when working with clients who travel a lot!), it will also take the headache out of daylight savings! Just make sure to change your availability ahead of time when you plan on traveling yourself or you might end up with client sessions scheduled for the middle of your night.
- Acuity is a popular online scheduling tool that does away with the back-and-forth of emails. Allowing for 1-1 and group meetings you can set buffer times to be added between events and also set daily limits to cap the number of meetings per day (and even make yourself look busier than you are!). Pro plans provide features such as notifications and reminders via email or text to assist with no-shows, and integrations with Stripe and PayPal for accepting payment at the time of booking. Important for us in the LIT Community is their time zone detection, which displays your availability in your invitee’s time zone.
- Calendly is a very similar platform to Acuity offering much of the same functionality. We have used it as clients in the past and have found it very easy to navigate as well, but we both use Acuity with our clients.
Some of our members also have an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system that allows for client scheduling as well as a number of other helpful private practice tools. Since these programs are often country or region specific we don’t have a specific one to recommend, but it’s worth exploring which options exist where your own company is registered.
Tools for Location Independent Therapists: Getting paid
Providing a way for our clients to pay for our services is one of the first things an online therapist needs to consider, especially when working internationally and with multiple currencies.
Even if you’ve been using a platform for some time, it’s always a good idea to review the available options every so often to ensure that you’re using the best solution to fit your needs.
We’ve provided a comparison below, but be sure to check them out for yourself as rates and terms are subject to change.
- Paypal: Most people are familiar with this payment gateway. If you use it for your business, you should ensure you are, in fact, using a business PayPal account. Those using a personal account (which doesn’t have any fees for accepting payments) for business purposes can be banned from the platform for violating the terms of service. The PayPal website has a convenient fee calculator, allowing you to estimate your monthly fees. At the time of writing, for transactions totalling no more than €2,500 per month you should pay 3.4% + €0.35 per transaction. You can also issue invoices via the platform if you need to. One of the easiest ways to use PayPal to receive payments is to set up a PayPal.me page. But of course, you can also integrate PayPal buttons to your website.
- Stripe: Similar to PayPal, Stripe is a credit card payment gateway. Depending on your location in the world, fees can be more competitive than those for PayPal, so be sure to do your research. At the time of writing, fees were 1.4% + €0.25 per transaction for European cards, and 2.9% + €0.25 per transaction for non-European cards (note that our research has been conducted as a European account holder). Stripe is what we use here at LIT to process your membership payments.
- Wise (formerly Transferwise): Rather than a credit card payment gateway, Wise is an online money transfer service and operates using bank to bank transfers. Since rWise moves money between countries by using two local transfers instead of one international transfer, transaction costs are vastly reduced. At the time of writing, Wise boasts that it’s rates for transferring across currencies is 19x cheaper than PayPal. While Wise is wonderful to save money, it should be noted that the fee has to be paid by the client sending the money, so depending on your business setup this might be an issue.
Tools for Location Independent Therapists: Staying organized behind-the-scenes
Some of our all-time favorite tools for location independent therapists we use our ourselves are those that help us stay organized. So much work goes into building and growing a successful business behind the scenes!
- Toggl: A time tracker tool. We recommend that you get into the practice of tracking your time. It’s one of the best things we do to help us focus and figure out where the days go. It allows us to identify the areas we should look to improve on, automate or outsource. Depending on your invoicing practices, it can also act as a check to make sure you aren’t letting billings fall through the cracks. The desktop app is even smart enough to know when you’ve been idle and presents you with a few options on how to continue. With the mobile app, you can also track your time away from your desktop.
- LastPass: A password management tool. How many passwords do you need to keep track of? If you’re like us, it’s likely too many to count! Have you been guilty of less-than-stellar password practices such as using “easy” passwords, or re-using the same password for different services? A password manager is the answer to password-related headaches – it allows you to generate random “strong” passwords, store your login credentials in a secure vault and quickly and easily sign in to any of your accounts with a click of a button. LastPass even has a security check to make sure your accounts are as secure as they can be and it allows for easy and secure collaboration with colleagues and assistants who might need access to your passwords.
Before signing up for any of these tools keep in mind that you’ll want to make sure that the ones that collect any data from your clients are compliant with the patient privacy and data protection laws in the location your business is registered in.
Which other tools for location independent therapists would you add to the list?