This is a step-by-step guide to help therapists take their counseling sessions online.
Intended Outcome of this Guide
- Mental health professionals will be able to send an online appointment booking link where clients can book a virtual appointment AND pay for it online.
- Once clients book an appointment, a meeting block will be posted to the professional’s private calendar, as well as the client’s.
- Clients will be automatically emailed a Zoom link to use at their appointment time.
- When the appointment time comes, the professional will run the session entirely within the Zoom web conferencing application.
See an example here (minus payment)
Ingredients and Fees
- Zoom Basic (free, unless you want to host meetings with more than three people and for more than 40 minutes, in which case use Zoom Pro)
- Calendly Pro Account ($12 a month) – free for 14 days
- Stripe (free with small percentage of transactions and can be automatically dumped directly into your bank account)
Hold Sessions Online via Video Conferencing
Signup for a Zoom Basic account
- Zoom is ridiculously easy and works on pretty much any phone or computer. You get web conferencing as well as mobile options.
- Here are some excellent Zoom Tutorials.
Once you get your Zoom account setup, you’re ready to setup your online booking system via Calendly (keep reading to see how).
Getting Paid For Your Appointments Online
Signup for a Stripe account
The reason we suggest using Stripe is because you can automatically have payments deposited into your account daily at no extra charge.
Be sure to have your bank account numbers ready!
Clients Book Their Own Appointments
Signup for a Calendly Pro account
Why Calendly Pro?
- It’s easy to use for both the consultant/coach/therapist AND the client. Because of Calendly’s large portfolio of app integrations, clients can book their own appointments around your availability, which is always controlled by you. They can get Zoom meeting information and make a payment directly through their booking link.
- It’s affordable at only $12/month, includes payment options (Stripe and Paypal) for appointments (this is BIG), syncs with multiple calendars (for instance if you use Google Calendar as well as Outlook), and offers multiple “event types” (30-minute session, 55-minute session, etc.).
- If you find you only need the bare minimum such as one event type (55-minute session), one synced calendar, and receive your payments separately, you can always go with Calendly Basic for free.
How to Set Up Calendly After Account Confirmation
Set your Calendly URL
For branding purposes we’d suggest using your practice name or your name for your Calendly URL. Example: https://calendly.com/[your-practice-name]. This is the link you’ll share with clients.
Connect your Calendar
Be sure to connect all the calendars you use for your practice for both in-person and telehealth clients. This is very important because when a client books an appointment it automatically gets put on your calendar so you don’t double book yourself.
Set Your General Availability
People will only be able to book sessions for the days and times you select here. You can fine-tune this later to reflect your preferred workday schedule.
Personalize Your Experience
In this section, select “Other.” Calendly will preload example event types that are best left untouched.
Setting Up Key Integrations of Zoom and Stripe
Next we want to setup key app integrations: Zoom and Stripe.
This integration will set up special Zoom links and invitations for your clients automatically.
- Click Integrations at the top of the Calendly dashboard
- Go to the Zoom Integration
- Click on Connect Zoom
- Login to Zoom with your credentials
- Click Pre-Approve and Authorize
This integration will allow you to take payments at the time of booking an appointment.
- Navigate to the Integrations page again (top of Calendly dashboard)
- Go to the Stripe integration
- Click Connect Stripe
- Login to Stripe with your credentials
- Click Pre-Approve and Authorize
Setting Up Your Appointment Options
Now it’s time to setup your actual appointment options, aka Calendly Event Types. Start with your most popular session option (say, your 55-minute session).
- In the Calendly dashboard, click on Event Types
- In Create New Event Type, click on One on One
WHAT EVENT IS THIS? Section
- Name Your Session — i.e. 55-Minute Session (Online)
- Location — Click the dropdown and find Zoom
- Descriptions/Instructions — Put anything in here you want them to know before booking an appointment.
In Descriptions/Instructions, you may say something like:
“This is for booking online-only sessions during COVID-19.
To ensure maximum quality of time:
- Find a quiet and private place with minimum distractions
- Be sure you have good internet / cell phone coverage
- Have a computer with a camera and mic (like your laptop)
- You can use a phone but you’ll have to hold the phone during our session
- If you have questions, please email me at: [YOUR EMAIL OR CONTACT FORM HERE]
Once you’re done, click Next.
WHEN CAN PEOPLE BOOK? Section
- Pick Custom for a 55-minute
- Change the default option to your preferred date range.
- Click Advanced
- Availability Increments — if doing a 55-minute session, click 60 Minutes
- Event Max Per Day — how many appointments do you want in a day?
- Minimum Scheduling Notice — how quickly can someone book a session? or how much notice would you want for a booked session?
- Event Buffers — if doing a 55-minute session and clicking on 60 minutes above, leave it at 0.
INVITEE QUESTIONS SECTION
In this section, if you want your clients to answer any questions before the session, you can add Custom Questions to the booking form here.
NOTIFICATIONS AND CANCELLATION POLICY SECTION
- Click Email Reminders “On”
- Click Text Reminders “On”
- Click Show Cancellation Policy —Copy and paste your existing cancellation and rescheduling policies here if desired.
Leave at Calendly for now unless you have a website and want to forward people a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Resources’ page.
On this screen, you set how much this session costs and prompt for payment upfront. Set your fee and click on the payment option that you’ve already integrated.
Your first Session Type is ready!
You’re done with your first session type. You can repeat these steps to create other session types and start sending the links to your clients to book their online sessions with you!