How to Get Your First Client, Part 3

I’m amazed at how few counselors put their phone number in the header of their website. The #1 reason people come to a counseling website is to make a counseling appointment! Why make it more difficult? What do we want the person to do? This question should be the leading one.

What Are You Doing?

Every page, blog post, social media post or networking connection, we should ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” If we don’t look at why we are spending our time there, it’s harder for us to know what we want the person to do. Here are reasons you may be on social media, writing a blog post or updating your website:

  • Clients to call and make an appointment
  • Clients to email and make an appointment
  • To build your perceived expertise
  • So people know that you exist
  • To be educated on a specific topic
For most counselors, the goal is to have someone make an appointment. Therefore, every page, blog post or social media, should somehow lead to that decision. For example, if you wrote a blog post “What every principal should know about ADHD,” you might have a PDF download for a principal to give to parents. On that PDF (which is really useful), you’d want your phone and email.
The call to action for the principal is to download the PDF and give it to families. You may even have a walk through in the blog post “How to talk to families about ADHD.” So you tell them exactly how to do what you want.
Then, they follow your steps and hand out the PDF to families. Within the PDF, you might have a section “When to get extra help.” In this section, you might list common reasons people connect with you as a therapist.

When you know the why of a situation, it makes it easier to create the “how.”

Make Counseling Referrals Easy

Here are a few tips to make it easy for people to refer to you: 

Give your referral sources your personal cellphone number. If they ever have a question, if they ever need to consult on a case, you know what, they’ll call you!  

I have a handout that I give to doctors that’s for them to give to their clients. When they give it to their patients, it basically walks them through how to make an intake appointment?

  • Have a scheduler that can quickly get someone scheduled.
  • Get involved professionally with other counselors. Counselors refer to each other.
  • Work with other professionals. Get involved professionally with your local counseling social work, psychology group so that they can refer to you and know what types of people to refer and what types of people not to refer. Remember that networking is your job at this point.

Put In the Time

The biggest reason that people don’t get results when they are first starting, is that they don’t put in the time. It’s not easy to rank high in Google, get referrals and connect locally. But here are a few first steps:

  • Blog three to five times per week around your keywords
  • Meet weekly with one new referral source
  • Set up a Psychology Today profile (email me if you need a referral for a free 6 months)
  • Update your website with your phone number at the top
  • Get to know other counselors locally

Overall, the big thing that you’re trying to do is to develop a network of people that know and like and trust you. 

Business card photo available from Shutterstock

How to Get Your First Client, Part 3

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

Joseph Sanok

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC teaches consultants how to become better consultants through his website Joe also helps counselors with growing private practices through his website He also loves sailing and playing with his two daughters.


APA Reference
Sanok, J. (2015). How to Get Your First Client, Part 3. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Nov 2015
Published on All rights reserved.