As the demand for mental health services continues to rise, many therapists are struggling to juggle administrative tasks alongside clinical care. Hiring full-time administrative staff is often cost-prohibitive for solo practitioners and small groups.

Consequently, some therapists are turning to virtual assistants for more cost-effective assistance with scheduling, billing, and even progress notes and marketing. If you’ve been considering using a virtual assistant for your therapy practice, here is what you need to know.

What Are The Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant?

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

Office managers and answering services are expensive and often leave therapists to fill in the gaps during off-hours. In contrast, virtual assistants can be hired on a contract basis for specific tasks or blocks of time, ensuring that you only pay for the services you need.

  1. Increased Patient Satisfaction

By ensuring that inquiries are answered promptly, virtual assistants can improve the overall patient experience. Patients who work full-time won’t have to worry about timing phone calls to coincide with office hours, and many people prefer the convenience of online scheduling.

  1. Flexibility

Virtual assistants can readily adapt to the changing needs of your practice. For example, if your caseload fluctuates or you require additional support during peak times, you can scale the assistant’s responsibilities up or back without having to go through the process of hiring or laying off staff.

  1. Time Zone Advantage

If your practice operates across different time zones, a virtual assistant enables you to offer round-the-clock support without having to be “on call” 24/7.

  1. Data Management and Automation

Finally, virtual assistants can automate processes such as organizing client records, generating reports, and invoicing. This reduces the likelihood of errors and allows you to concentrate more fully on clinical care.

What Tasks Can Virtual Assistants Manage?

Because virtual assistants are often hired on a contract basis, you can essentially choose services “a la carte.” Prefer to handle intake phone calls yourself, but hate billing? There’s an assistant for that. If financials are your jam but progress notes paralyze you, you can hire for that, too. Here are some of the services that virtual assistants can provide for your practice:


Virtual Assistants can handle scheduling and cancellations via email, text messaging, or web portals, providing for a smooth and organized booking process.

Billing and Invoicing

Billing specialists prepare and send insurance claims, invoice patients, and track payments. They can also assist with insurance authorizations and appeals.

Customer Support

Customer support assistants respond to inquiries, provide information about services, and assist with general questions. They act as the first point of contact for your practice and ensure that patient inquiries are handled promptly.


Virtual assistants can transcribe session notes, progress notes, letters, and emails from shorthand or dictation, fulfilling paperwork requirements for insurance, employers, court systems, etc.


Virtual assistants can help set up automated reminders about upcoming appointments, reducing the likelihood of no-shows or last-minute cancellations.

Social Media and Marketing

Looking to expand your online presence, but short on time or tech-savvy? Virtual assistants can manage your social media accounts, help you define your brand, create content that speaks to your ideal patient, and even run marketing campaigns.

Language Translation

If your practice caters to non-English speaking patients, a virtual assistant can bridge the language barrier for more effective communication with diverse populations.

Research and Writing

Interested in academic research or writing? Virtual assistants can perform literature reviews, data collection, and other research-related tasks. You can also hire a virtual assistant to write blog posts or online courses for your practice.

Are there any risks associated with hiring a virtual assistant?


Just as on-site staff can breach patient confidentiality, virtual assistants can inadvertently leak sensitive information, especially if they are new to the healthcare field. Either way, you’ll want to take some time to review HIPAA guidelines and make compliance part of your virtual assistant’s contract.


Since most virtual assistants carry more than one client at any given time, you may not have immediate access to your assistant the way you would if they worked on-site. There also won’t be a “friendly face” to greet and interact with your patients.

Initial and ongoing investment

While generally virtual assistants are more cost-effective and require less oversight than on-site staff, you will need to make a significant investment on the front end to make sure they are properly trained and oriented.

A note about AI virtual assistants

Some companies are now offering artificial intelligence-based virtual assistance. While these may have a place in therapy practices in the future, there are privacy and ethical concerns such that currently, AI assistants may cause more problems than they solve.

How do I find the virtual assistant that best suits my practice?

In addition to asking colleagues for their recommendations, you can check out Belongly’s list of 21 sites for therapists to find a virtual assistant here. Before you start interviewing candidates, hash out details like salary range, number of hours, and job description. Since many sites are international, you’ll also want to think about whether to limit your search to U.S.-based assistants. While there are qualified candidates all over the globe, U.S.-based contracts are easier to enforce.


A virtual assistant can help alleviate administrative burdens, make your practice more efficient, and increase patient satisfaction. To set your assistant and your practice up for success, make a list of services that would most benefit from delegation or automation. Take time to train your assistant on issues around privacy and confidentiality, and clarify your expectations in your assistant’s contract. Although this requires an initial investment of time and energy, it ultimately will give you the freedom to focus on what you love most about being a therapist.

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About the Author: Belongly
The community for mental health professionals. A free, secure space for mental health professionals to collaborate with and meet new colleagues, support each other through referrals and stay connected to a trusted network of peers.

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