What do you think of when you think of a therapist?
If I'm honest, when I think of a traditional therapist I get a image of the original therapy poster boy Freud - a tweedy older man in authority who looks, frankly, terrifying!
(Sorry Freud fans!)
Or there's the middle aged, middle class white woman who's looking for something to do now the kids have flown the nest.
Is that what the public perception of counselling is, that we are all tweedy busy-bodies looking down our noses at people and observing them?
You’ve passed your exams, done your placement and had your personal therapy and now you’re a fully qualified therapist - YAY!
Congratulations! You should be very proud. Time to start in private practice - exciting times!
But wait! You’re not starting in practice yet?
‘No, I think I’m going to get a more qualified qualification so I can help people in a more qualified way. And it’ll attract more clients as they’ll see how super qualified I am.'
Okay, no. We need to talk…
Getting started in private practice is an amazing time. You’ve worked so hard and finally you’re ready to start making an income doing what you feel passionately about - that’s kind of the holy grail of life!
But it can also feel overwhelming too - with websites, niching, social media, blogging, networking, podcasts etc, where do you even begin?
I asked some therapists what advice they’d give new therapists just starting out, and here’s what they said:
When you’re in private practice, you want to attract more clients.
But something many therapists are worried about is being salesy.
That's hardly surprising. When I think of salespeople, I picture the old school sleazy used car salesman, or the double glazing salesman, or the old school cosmetics counter over-made-up saleswoman insisting that 'yes, that neon pink lipstick really looks lovely on you'!
The sort of sales people that are on a commission and really only interested in the sale, which leaves you feeling manipulated, taken advantage of and used.
Well the truth is you simply don’t have to try to sell yourself or your services, at least not in that 'used car salesman' way.
It’s easy to buy into the idea that the market for therapists is saturated. After all, a quick search on Google for your area will show dozens of counsellors, possibly hundreds.
Maybe you're worried, especially if you’re new, an introvert or struggle with imposter syndrome because the very idea of ‘getting out there’ or 'selling yourself' will likely bring you out in hives. (Note - you don’t have to sell yourself, no one likes being sold to.)
So let’s take a closer look at the saturated market myth.