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Private Practice Kickstart
with Miranda Palmer, LMFT
& Kelly Higdon, LMFT

The Art of Relationship Marketing for Therapists

Relationship Marketing for Private PracticesTherapists are by nature relationship experts. With the right tools, we shine in marketing our private practices through relationships.

I am a firm believer that personal referrals and word of mouth are truly strong referrals that have great “stick.” If a friend of mine raves about a service, I am going to trust their review over a Yelp review any day. Why? Because they know me and I trust them.

When you start out your private practice, you are excited and eager to tell people. You start reaching out to local businesses and sharing your message about how you have a counseling practice and who you see in your practice. (Click here to learn how to create that message). The conversation is flowing and then comes…

The statement that kills the relationship

In my coaching, I hear therapists ending the conversation with, “If you know of anyone that needs help please send them to me.” It’s almost as if each person makes a statement about their business and that’s it. (note: other people don’t always know how to do relationship marketing but if you follow below, they will love you for it and learn from you)

I believe the other person has the best intention to remember you, but then your phone doesn’t ring and if it does it’s because they found you on psychology today or your website.

That final statement showed that the whole conversation has been about you this entire time and it isn’t too flattering or memorable.

The Key to Relationships is Service

Relationship marketing is actually about the other person and exploring how you can be of service to them. Think of the changes that will occur in the positioning of your language, intention and behaviors when you stop talking about you and start getting to know them. That is much more meaningful to the other person. Honestly, it’s more fun for you too. It takes off a lot of pressure. There is no need to ask them to do something for you at all. Let’s talk about how to make that happen.

Win-Win Conversations

When you go visit a local business here is how to change the conversation to focus on the other person and to ensure that you leave a positive mark on their memory, feel good about your marketing efforts and to be able to walk away with a tangible result from your conversation.

  • Set the stage. Get to know their business and to know something about them personally. I actually have made some friendships just by getting to know them as people better.  Just respect the personhood of the other and show you actually care about them, not just how many clients they can send to you.
  • Explore their needs. Find out the major pain points of their clients/customers/patients. For example, you visit a pediatrician office – ask them if there are any common struggles that parents are having that they wish they could address but just don’t have time or resources to do so. Again, this is another way to care about them. It’s the springboard for offering help.
  • Be of help. Brainstorm a solution with them and see how you can be of service. You might be able to offer a talk to parents, create a handout that the physician can give to parents with tips to address an issue, or maybe their staff could use a quick in service on a topic. You also might know of someone that could help them. Even if you aren’t the solution, you are building a relationship with a person and showing them that you care.

It’s in this kind of conversation they naturally get to know you and how you help. By simply being of service, making an impact, creating a genuine relationship you will, in turn, be remembered, valued and referred to for further help.

So before you go and make brochures and business cards, or awkwardly set up coffees to talk about yourself, reach out to people that serve your ideal clients and genuinely seek out ways to help them.

What kinds of relationships have been great for your private practice? Share below!

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The Art of Relationship Marketing for Therapists

Kelly Higdon, LMFT

Kelly Higdon, LMFT is a private practice expert that believes therapists are some of the most important healers in the world. She teaches therapists how to grow successful businesses from scratch and to move beyond the couch with multiple streams of income. Get to know Kelly better through her free private practice marketing trainings, the Business School Bootcamp for therapists, or through private practice consultation.


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APA Reference
Higdon, K. (2019). The Art of Relationship Marketing for Therapists. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from