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With so many counsellors in your area, how can you make it easier for therapy clients to choose you?

And how can you stand out while staying firmly within your personal disclosure boundaries?

Let’s explore how to start forming this therapeutic relationship through your marketing while staying firmly within your personal disclosure and ethical boundaries. 

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In all modalities, the therapeutic relationship is vital and likely to increase the chance of a good therapeutic outcome. 

But there is an inconsistency between being a blank slate in the counselling room while simultaneously also cultivating a thriving therapeutic relationship.

How can clients choose the right therapist for them when we are told to not share anything about ourselves?

And how can you attract clients that are a good fit for you while staying firmly within personal disclosure boundaries?

In this episode, I share how to make it easier for clients to choose you and how helping clients make the right choice is good for them, good for your business and good for the counselling profession. 

And grab your FREE guide 'Attract more therapy clients by helping not selling'

ATTRACT MORE THERAPY CLIENTS BY Helping Not Selling

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Attract therapy clients by helping not selling

Do you believe that anyone needing counselling can go to any therapist?

Let me put this another way. If you need counselling, do you just go to the one that lives in the place most convenient to you?

If not, why is that?

Ok, thats kind of a leading question because it’s widely accepted that the therapeutic relationship is paramount across all modalities. 

But we are also trained to be like a blank slate too, hiding anything about ourselves. 

As a profession, we think about every little aspect our work - should you have tissues in the room, water, what pictures, should I hide a tattoo, is it ok to have pink hair…

Because we want to offer our clients the very best service we can, right?

Hhmm… so now we have a conundrum - how can we aid the process and help them choose the best therapist for them ie YOU whilst staying firmly within your ethical boundaries?

Ok, let’s talk about hairdressers for a moment. 

I used to work with someone that moved to Lincoln to live about 8 years ago. 

However, she still travelled a round trip of just over 70 miles every time she wanted a hair cut - she had short hair, so maybe every 4 or 5 weeks.

To be honest, she wasn’t someone with a complex style, and she didn't seem overly interested in personal grooming. 

But it was important to her to visit that particular stylist. 

How about you? Have you been visiting the same stylist for years? I have.

So why do we do that when hairdressers all do pretty much the same thing, right? They cut, colour, straighten, curl and style hair in some way. 

So why is it we are generally speaking  picky about the stylist we choose?

Well, our hair is really important to us. We know that a good hair day will boost our confidence, and a bad hair day makes us feel bleugh all day, right?

So you put a huge amount of trust into your stylists hands. 

And probably everyone has a story to tell about walking out of a salon close to tears as their hair has been butchered. 

Having our hair done is such an intimate thing. Hairdressers are one of those professions that have permission to enter our personal space, to physically touch us. 

And again, the stylist and client have a particular kind of relationship. It’s intimate. Personal stories are shared. 

But on the other hand, you may choose a hairdresser that works on your hair quietly. That is warm and kind, but doesn't insist on banal ‘have you booked your holidays’ small talk. 

Or you might be very experimental with your hair, keen to try new colours, styles and techniques. And as such want a stylist thats keen to try new colours and techniques.

And cost may also come into it. Some find a more affordable stylist, but some want full on luxury, with beautiful surroundings, posh coffee, Prosecco and extra treatments that all make the experience the height of self indulgent luxury. 

So although not everyone has a chosen stylist, most people I know prefer to find a stylist that ‘get’s’ them and a relationship is born that’s built on trust. 

Ok, so maybe you’re wondering why I’m talking about hairdressers. 

Well, its because of something that frustrates the hell out of me...

Have you heard someone say they went to counselling but it was rubbish, or didn't work?

I have. And it drives me mad. 

There are many reasons why someone doesn't have the experience they wanted with counselling, often a lot to do with timing - and we have no control of that. 

However, I do think it’s a lot to do with the counsellor client relationship. The therapeutic relationship.

Because in many ways, counsellors are like hairdressers: it's an intimate relationship, built on trust. We all do the same basic thing, but all have different styles, just like a hairdresser. 

And all therapists are different.

So if someone wants some counselling and randomly picks a counsellor - well, they may not the best experience they could have - which isn't the fault of the counsellor OR the client. 

Because not all relationships work, even therapeutic ones. 

My first experience of therapy was with a psychodynamic counsellor, who really just left me to talk - which was a disaster because I literally didn't know what I was supposed to say! So vast amounts of the session was me laying - yes, I laid down - in crippling, paralysing silence. 

As an extreme people pleaser with a non existent self esteem, what I needed was gentle guidance. 

Counselling is most definitely not one size fits all. Would you agree?

How can you make it easier for clients to choose you?

So how can we make it easier for the right kind of client to find you so its a good fit, and there is a higher chance of a successful therapeutic relationship?

Well, I think it's about self knowledge, and then communicating that via marketing. 

Consider these 2 statements

1. ‘Many people feel anxious coming to counselling for the first time, and worry they won't know what to say. So together We will explore what’s brought you to counselling and what your needs are’

VS

2. ‘Have you ever tried talking to someone to find they just talk over you, take over the conversation or try to tell you what to do? Well that wont happen with me.  You have the space to talk, while I listen - really listen, and and together we will explore whats happening in your life and how you’d like it to be instead.' 

See what a difference those few sentences make. Neither are inherently right or wrong, one isn't better than the other. They just acknowledge difference. 

One is gently saying you will help them talk, the other that you will shut up and listen. 

And that is how a client can self select the right counsellor for them. 

All without personal disclosure. 

How cool is that?! 

So knowing your counselling style means you can sprinkle these things through your marketing.

And as a private practitioner, this has a positive impact on your bottom line, because if people choose the right counsellor for them, then they are more likely to continue counselling and it will have a positive impact - which has a wider impact on the profession as a whole. 

More positive experiences = more people talking about their positive experiences = more people feeling comfortable accessing counselling

So how can you allow yourself to show through your marketing?

Well before you panic, non of this is about personal disclosure. I’m not suggesting that you share your personal info to all and sundry. 

But are YOU the missing piece in your marketing?

What I’m suggesting is allowing yourself to be YOU.  

Just like when a new client sees you for the first time. They will hear your accent, see your hairstyle, your clothing, whether you wear make up, have tattoos, where you work from. …

Your essence kind of leaks out of you anyway, you cant stop it. 

So allow your personality to show, and the right people will be drawn to you.

Do you use humour? Do you swear? Do you use different tools? 

Lean into your personality and style and allow it to show. 

Congruence in counselling

We talk a lot about congruence in counselling don't we, it's one of the core conditions. So showing up as the authentic you is - well in my mind anyway - vital. 

I had a counselling friend that always wore bright red lipstick. It was her thing. 

But in her training, she was told she shouldn't wear it. And this had a negative effect on her. It made her feel inauthentic and impacted her confidence. 

So she wore it. 

Did it have some sort of negative impact on the clients? I doubt it, but I bet her clients benefited from a more authentic experience with a more relaxed and confident therapist, which no doubt led to a more positive therapeutic relationship.

This is a definite benefit for clients because they get to CHOOSE the person they have for therapy. 

So let your personality show. 

Allow it to show through small, subtle details in the copy on your website, social media, blogs, directories. Then the client can choose the best fit counsellor for them. But not only that, theres a better chance of a meaningful therapeutic relationship.

Conclusion

Today we’ve looked at how In all modalities, the therapeutic relationship is paramount.

And the inconsistency between being a blank slate in the counselling room while simultaneously also cultivating a thriving therapeutic relationship.

I’ve also considered how this incongruence between you and your counselling persona might impact both parties. 

And I’ve shared that the way you show up in your marketing will help potential clients to get a feel for you - just as they do in a first or assessment session. 

So look, allow your personality to show. This means clients can make a choice based on something that matters, because counsellors are individuals, they aren't interchangeable. 

And this benefits you, your client and your business. 

If you need help with this, come and join us in the Grow Your Private Practice membership  

FREE Guide How to attract more therapy clients by helping not selling

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Jane


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.