As psychotherapists, we typically do not receive training in school on the business aspect of our profession. Many therapists make the decision to branch out into private practice, but feel stuck when it comes to knowing how to market themselves.
The following are three quick tips for starting to market your private practice, thus enabling you to reach more clients who could benefit from the services that you provide.
1. Narrow down your specializations and define what makes you unique.
Amidst a sea of mental health professionals, it is important that you begin to define what helps you to stand out. For instance, are there specific clinical issues in which you have expertise? Have you completed training or certificates in certain treatment modalities?
Next, think about how you would define your personal brand as a therapist. If someone asks you what it is that you do, it’s important that you can share this information in a concise and engaging way.
For instance rather than simply saying, “I’m a therapist who treats people with disordered eating,” you might say, “I am a therapist who helps people to make peace with food and their bodies.”
Once you have narrowed down your specialization and your personal brand, it is important that you depict this on your website through visual images and engaging statements. Try to think about your ideal clientele and the messaging and images that would appeal to them.
2. Use social media strategically.
Social media is a free tool and helpful way to network with potential referral sources. First off, it is important that you create a professional Facebook page, Twitter account and Linkedin profile.
Additionally, to build a following you should update the pages regularly with content that is relevant to your specialization, such as articles, quotes and pictures.
You can then use these platforms to connect with other local therapists, psychiatrists, physicians and school counselors, all of whom may serve as potential referral sources.
Something that I have found to be helpful is to connect with someone in your area whose work seems interesting to you and then send them a message.
For example, “Thank you for accepting my invite to connect. I’d love to learn more about your practice. Would you be interesting in meeting up for coffee or lunch sometime?”
Meeting someone face to face helps to build trust and gives you the opportunity to learn from them, as well as to share what you are doing. Another tip is to send a message thanking them for connecting and asking if there is anyway that you can be of value to them.
Additionally, Facebook and Linkedin often have groups for local professionals, that can be helpful to join and in which to participate. If there is no group for local therapists, then start one! There is so much potential to use social media for networking, so make sure to take advantage of this valuable resource.
3. Establish yourself as an expert.
Establishing yourself as an expert within your area of specialization is also helpful in terms of generating interest in your practice. Starting a blog, freelance writing for mental health websites, launching a podcast, giving a talk at a local school/community event and being interviewed on podcasts are all great ways to share your expertise and knowledge.
Think about your strengths when it comes to choosing which outlets would be best. For instance, if you are a skilled public speaker, then you might decide to ask local organizations, schools, etc (depending on your ideal clientele) if you can give a psycho educational talk on a topic that is related to your specialty.
4. Step out of Your Comfort Zone
Lastly, it is critical that you step out of your comfort zone when it comes to marketing your private practice. For many, promoting their services may feel uncomfortable, however it is only through discomfort that we are able to truly grow.
In putting yourself out there you may face criticism and rejection. However, you also are doing something that is brave. In the same way that you might help clients to face fears, it is important to challenge yourself not to “play small,” when it comes to your career aspirations and dreams. What would you do if you could not fail?
If you are unsure of where to start, you can type or write out what your ideal private practice would look like. Be sure to get specific about the types of clients you would want to see, the hours you would want to work, the fee, location, décor, etc.
Visualization can be a powerful tool when it comes to building the business of your dreams.
With perseverance and by engaging some of these strategies, you can develop a thriving private practice and have a career that you love.