What do you want to learn more about?
Taking the time to volunteer your expertise is an incredible opportunity to freshen your practice, work with new people, and make a difference. If you’re interested in challenging yourself and learning more about the industry, pro bono work might just be the right option for you.
There are plenty of US immigrants who can’t afford to pay for psychological evaluations and legal fees. However, receiving these services might give them a real shot at creating a fruitful life for themselves and their families.
Today, we’ll be exploring the various ways that you can incorporate pro bono work into your psychology practice. I’d like to preface this discussion by making it clear that while you may choose to do pro bono work, you should never feel pressured or shamed to work for free, and should always highly value the work you do as an immigration evaluation therapist.
Pro bono case management
The best way to juggle paying clients and pro bono clients is to make sure you only take on a set number of pro bono cases each year. Depending on your availability and the needs of your clients, this could be anywhere from 1 to 10 pro bono cases annually. It’s incredibly important to decide on a set number and stick to it. This will prevent you from over-working yourself for little pay.
As you go along, you’re welcome to alter the number of pro bono cases as you see fit. For example, if you happen to have a slow month in September and you see an opportunity for more pro bono work, go for it!
On the other hand, the last thing you want to do is accept a pro bono case and then drop the client halfway. Firstly, this reflects badly on you and your practice. Secondly, it will leave hopeful clients feeling very disheartened.
Collaborating with non-profit organizations and attorneys
Once you’ve decided that you’re open to pro bono work, there’s a bit of admin behind finding clients to work with. Keeping this in mind, many psychologists choose to partner up with a non-profit organization or an attorney. This allows them to easily find potential pro bono clients in need. It also ensures that the relevant support structures are in place once the psychological evaluation is complete. Make sure you partner with non-profits and attorneys that you genuinely believe in!
Offering your fees on a sliding scale
Pro bono work doesn’t always have to equate to 100% free services. There’s also the option of offering your fees on a sliding scale depending on your client’s income.
In order to make this happen, you’ll need to determine your standard fees and create a detailed outline of who might be eligible to pay less. Anybody who expresses the need to pay lower fees can then be evaluated according to the relevant criteria. If they fit into the scope of the outline, propose payment options that suit their income. This is an important aspect of making psychology services more accessible to lower-income groups.
Overall, the benefits of pro bono work include developing a meaningful relationship with your clients, expanding your network, and learning from interactions with unique individuals. It’s an invaluable experience that is bound to help you expand on your skills.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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