Just lately I've been talking to a lot of therapists about their private practice, and something that comes up again and again is the fear of being 'salesy'. It doesn't sit right with them.
Some are sad to have trained to be a therapist and end up having to run their own business if they want to carry on practicing.
Some are angry that their dream of making a difference in peoples lives is turning into a world of marketing, advertising and attracting clients - it feels distasteful and not what they signed up for.
Is that you? If so lets take a look at the reality of attracting clients to your private practice.
In order to be a counsellor you have to have people to counsel, and unless people know:
- Who you help
- What you do
- Where you are
- How to contact you
you simply won't attract any clients.
It's literally as simple as that!
So does that mean in order to have clients you need to pursuade people to come to you?
No. When marketing, there is no place for manipulation or persuasion because there is simply no point.
As you already know, clients have to want to come to therapy for it to be beneficial: it's not something we 'do' to people.
You don't need to learn a set of sales techniques because it would be counterproductive - the client wouldn't engage in the process, it wouldn't help them and they'd be really unimpressed with counselling - and you know what we do when we're not happy with something? We tell others.
And that's not good for business.
The problem therapists have is the other end of the scale - it's been drummed into a counsellors head during training that we are not the expert, so we shy away from the 'E' word like Dracula shys away from the cross.
This means our websites merely hint at being able to help as we are so conscious of being unethical.
Also, it's been drummed into us that personal disclosure is something to use very sparingly and only if it is in the best interest of the clients - and rightly so.
So our websites are cold, starchy and factual in an attempt to give nothing away about ourselves. See what I mean in 'Can you help your therapy clients (and do they know it?)'
There has to be a better way - a middle ground where you can proudly let people know you're there, you're helpful, friendly and approachable and able to help while staying firmly within ethical and moral boundaries.
Marketing isn't about aggressive sales techniques and advertising. No, marketing is about simply letting people know what issues you can help with, who you are and how they can contact you.
Marketing is about educating people about what you do and who you help, so they can say:
- Yes, I need that
- I know someone that needs that
- I don't know anyone that needs that at the moment, but when I do, I'll know
You become known and when someone needs you they'll know where to look, or when they talk to someone that needs you, they'll know where to send them.
How do you do that?
Well you're clear about what you can help with, who you help. You're clear about the benefits of counselling and what you offer.
You use blogging as a way to share information, freely giving ideas and tips about your niche and you use social media to share your blogs along with other information they might find useful.
Therefore, if your niche is anxiety in teenagers, anyone that wants to help an anxious teenager will either visit your site or send them to your site, and you will become the go-to expert - the place to go to get information.
All without saying 'I am an expert'.
On being an expert
Acting like an expert might be detrimental to the client in the confines of the therapy room, but not acting confidently in your abilities outside the therapy room is detrimental to your business.
- Would you trust your mental health with someone that isn't an expert?
- Would you trust your innermost secrets with someone that isn't an expert?
- Would you trust your relationship with someone that isn't an expert?
- Would you trust your child with someone that isn't an expert?
Clients need to be confident about your skills - they need to know they're in safe hands.
What is the definition of an expert?
'A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area'.
The expert in the therapy room is the client.
The expert outside the therapy room is you.
Attracting your ideal client isn't about being sleazy, manipulative or unethical, it simply gives you the opportunity to help more people doing the thing you are passionate about.
If you need more help with your marketing, check out the Grow Your Private Practice book. It's split into 3 sections:
Just click the link below for more details and to buy.