How I Choose My Niche:
Many therapists struggle when they have to choose a niche. They worry that if they narrow their focus, they’ll exclude potential paying clients, or they’re afraid that working with one single population will cut them off from other clinical areas they may really enjoy.
I used to feel exactly the same way. Maybe you have, too. But, it’s not your fault. In the beginning stages of becoming therapists, we had to work with a variety of populations so that we could learn how to manage a whole spectrum of concerns and issues. And, while we were learning “how to become therapists”, we were not necessarily encouraged to bring our authentically unique self into the process. We may have been encouraged to be a tabula rasa. Many of us have also had the experience of opening a private practice with little-to-no clients at first, wanting to take on every client that called us, and even felt bad referring clients out that were not a great fit for us. Furthermore, we were not taught about how to run a business in graduate school, much less “market ourselves.” That was considered taboo. Wow? Thankfully, times are changing…
Finding my Private Practice Niche
The key to finding a niche is to incorporate your passions into your practice. That’s what I did. When I picked a focus that was aligned with my authentic self, I began to build the practice of my dreams. Today I feel invigorated by my multi-faceted practice, and I continue to attract clients who are excited about the work we do, too. (It is a win win!) And later this fall, I’ll be leading a women’s retreat in France: A dream come true that might never have been possible if I’d stayed stuck in a niche I didn’t truly love.
For me, getting to my dream practice wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I unfortunately had to learn the hard way, but, at the heart of the journey, is this one question:
What would your practice look like if you gave yourself permission to choose a niche from a place of joy and ease, rather than fear and worry?
During my internship to become a psychotherapist, I worked 80 hours a week with severely traumatized children and families. Despite feeling stressed and unbalanced, I kept pushing because I thought that’s what I “should” do to be successful. That’s what I saw other therapists doing. I foolishly thought, isn’t that what is expected of me as a therapist? Eventually, the stress caught up with me and my body actually broke down.
A Broken Body Renewed My Clinical Work
The experience was blessing in disguise. To heal my own life, I began training in mind-body techniques like mindfulness, yoga (movement, meditation and breath work) and Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET). In the process, I fell in love with these practices and found what would help me be the greatest teacher to my clients.
Fear of Being an Out of the Box Therapist
At first, I was resistant to integrating yoga and NET into my psychotherapy practice. I was concerned about “being outside of the box,” of what I thought was traditional psychotherapy. Why is it that we think we’re not allowed to mix what we love with our work, or that it is supposed to look like XYZ? We give our clients much more latitude to be authentically unique than we usually give ourselves. Incorporating these practices I loved into my work as a psychotherapist felt like doing something wrong somehow…
Getting Honest with Myself
But, when I got honest with myself and asked myself some important questions, I realized I couldn’t let fear dictate anymore. When I look back now, I can see that many of the clients who were coming to me during that time also needed the lessons that I was learning to heal myself.
Helping Women Make Deep Transforamtion
These were exactly the things that I needed to teach and share with them and others so that they could make true transformation on a body-mind-spirit level. It’s an interesting phenomenon that the clients that seek us out are often times experiencing things that maybe we ourselves have experienced in the past. So after much soul searching, I decided to give myself the permission to help people in the ways that, I knew from experience, would change them on a deep level. When I stopped trying to intellectualize it and listened to my heart, and my clients’ needs, choosing my niche was easy.
Today, I have a practice that incorporates my passion for healing on multiple levels (mind, body, and spirit). I’ve developed a program, called Find Your Flourish, which helps women release fear, and live from a place of authenticity, because this is the work that helps me feel alive and inspired. The women who are drawn to these programs are inspired and inspirational, funny how that works! The icing on the cake of this whole niching exercise, is that I am taking a group of women to France in September for a women’s yoga retreat because I truly believe in the transformative healing powers of travel.
Your TRUE Private Practice Niche
Whether you already have a niche or not, I believe your TRUE niche (the one that’s going to energize you, bring you purpose, meaning, inspiration, and passion to your life and will do the exact same for your ideal clients) is already deep inside you just waiting to be expressed. You may just need to get quiet enough to hear it, but it’s there. Look within yourself at your true gifts. What can you offer to your clients that’s uniquely you? What is your passion?
Give yourself permission to dream big. These days therapists are finding success all over the map. Clinicians who are passionate about horses for example, are helping people heal trauma through equine therapy. Therapists who are strongly connected to nature are building ecotherapy practices. What will you, your practice, and your clients look like when you are choosing a niche based on your authentic heart’s true calling, and not based in fear or scarcity?
You don’t need to try to fit yourself into a box, or be ruled by what you think you “should” be doing. You don’t need to be a one-size-fits-all therapist. If you let your authentic self guide you, YOU will be confident, joyful, and fulfilled, AND you will help your clients heal.
Tiffany Goyer, MA, LMFT, RYT, is the founder of Find Your Flourish™, a women’s retreat to help you reconnect to your latent dreams, and live the life you really want (instead of the life you “should” have). Her work brings you a wealth of healing modalities to synchronize the body, mind and spirit. Find out more about joining her retreat in the South of France at www.tiffanygoyer.com/fyf-france.