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Counsellor or Clone? Breaking Through the Monotony of Online Directories

Online directories can be a great way of attrracting more therapy clients. But I recently had an experience that highlighted how difficult it can be for potential clients to find the right therapist for them.

So join me as I look at how to how to break through the monotony of online directories so you will stand out from others and attract the right clients to you.


Deciding to have therapy can be a scary time for potential clients. 

Do you remember when you first went to therapy? I do.  

I remember, among other things, feeling scared, terrified, anxious, worried, trepidatious, unsure and vulnerable. All of those things.

It can be a difficult time because people don't know what to expect. They do, however, know they will need to talk about difficult things. Those feelings they have pushed down, perhaps for many years. Explore those skeletons that are in firmly tucked away in the closet and things they may have never shared with anyone before. And that is a daunting prospect. 

Getting therapy for the first time is a big deal. Often, people consider if for a long time before taking that step. For example, a friend of mine spoke with a therapist, deciided tthey were the counsellor for them -  but still then waited for a whole year before they actually took the plunge and make an appointment. 

This is why understanding the client's journey into therapy is so important.

If you need more help with this, I have a free resource that I think you’ll find helpful. 

Your Clients Journey Into Therapy

Just go to Your Clients Journey Into Therapy' and get it now. 

And I sometimes when we work as therapists, we can forget just what it’s like. 

This recently happened to me:

Someone dear to me has been going through a crisis and as you can imagine I was relieved when they said they were open to getting some therapy. 

So they took my advice and started to look in an online directory for someone suitable. 

Fast forward to me asking how they were doing, only to discover that they had stopped the search. 


They didn’t know who to choose because - and this is a direct quote:

"They all said the same thing"

So they’d given up.  I wonder if you can imagine how I felt as  I tore my hair out?

And this is where I get a bit ranty because this is important. 

As a practice owner, it's your job to help clients to choose you. Let people know who you help, and why you're a good fit. And to be clear about it.  

Because there are so many counsellors around these days, it’s hard for potential clients to know who to choose. 

So let’s explore some online directory challenges a little…

Copying/taking inspiration

We’ve all copied/taken inspiration from what other people say on their directory. Honestly, that's what I did when I first started out as a therapist, and It's pretty normal. 

But this can be problematic: You don’t know if their messaging works, it might not be right for the clients you want to attract and you aren't allowing your personality to show. 

But Jane’, you might cry, ‘What about personal disclosure boundaries?'

Good point. But that’s not really what I’m talking about. 

I’m talking about having your directory entry (and all your messaging) actually sound like YOU. Letting your personality, your warmth, your sense of humour show. 

For example, maybe you’re a bit sweary! I’ve seen a therapist mention this on their directory entry, and because I am a sweary Mary, I gravitated to them. (I’ve sensed some previous therapists not really being ok with it).

People get a sense of you just through the words you use in your marketing, without sharing anything personal with them. That's the power of words, and why I love blogging.

Misunderstanding Niche

I think many people misunderstand what having a niche really means, and I think that’s why people say they don’t want one, as they believe it will restrict them. 

But it won't.

Having a niche means you are more likely to work with the types of clients and issues that you feel passionately about. Your dream clients. This means  you enjoy your work more as you're working with the things that most interest you. 

Not only that, it will make your marketing more targeted and as such for the right people to find you.

It’s amount understanding who yor dream clients are so you can attract them to you more easily. And that's what you want.

Maximising your prime real estate

When people are scrolling on directories, they only see the first couple of sentences you’ve written. If they are interested, they will click on the READ MORE button.

I call these sentences prime real estate, because it’s like when you are selling your home: you need curb appeal so your house looks great in pictures and when people drive past. 

So don’t waste this prime real estate by saying ‘Hi, I’m jane, and I’m a qualified and experienced person-centred counsellor’ because that doesn’t mean anything to them. Nothing is grabbing them, so they will simply scroll on past. 

This section isn't about you, so if you’re using it to talk about yourself, you're missing a trick. 

So what should you write?

How is the client feeling, what are they struggling with, what do they want from counselling?

And if you aren't sure, then I really do recommend you come and join the Grow Your Private Practice membership and do The Empathy Exercise, because this is fundamental when attracting more clients. 

How to stand out on an online directory

There are some phrases that have been done to death in directory bios. 

If you use the phrase  ‘safe, confidential space’ well, look: this is vastly overused. So how else can you say that? 

If it suits your personality, maybe you could be lighthearted and say ‘ come and talk with me in my comfy warm room, and don't worry, all your secrets will be safe with me’ 

Or talk about how you offer a sanctuary, judgement-free zone, luxurious surroundings, tranquil refuge, a sanctum, oasis…this gives people more of an idea of you and what you offer. So give it some thought, and make it personal to you.

Action step

Remember, inspiration without action is merely entertainment, so here is your action step. 

Grab a coffee, or wine and a snack and spend 30 minutes on the directory you use.

Imagine you are looking for a counsellor for the very first time. 

First search for a therapist in your local area, and then search for an online therapist. 

Ask yourself:

  • Who appeals to you
  • Why?
  • What puts you off?
  • What might be confusing for a potential client

Because there’s a saying - a confused mind always says no.

A confused mind always says no: Jane Travis

You need to make choosing you more simple, otherwise people might put off getting the help them need because the process is to hard, too confusing. And that's doing a client a disservice.

So today we've explored how important it is to stand out on your directory entries and how to share your personality just through the words you use in order to attract your dream clients.

I hope you've found this useful, but if you'd like some extra help and support, come and join the Grow Your Private Practice membership. Just click the button below. 

And here's to celebrating your individuality!

Join the Grow Your Private Practice Club, and learn how to attract more clients, more easily

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Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found with her feet up and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends.