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Private Practice
with Julie Hanks, MSW, LCSW, BCD

General

Therapist Roll Call: Join The Private Practice Twitter List

I recently blogged about ways to use Twitter to build your private practice, and encouraged you to tweet your elevator speech/basic practice message in 140 characters or less. Those posts got me wondering, "How many therapists in private practice are actively using Twitter?"

So, I'm taking a roll call to help you use Twitter to connect with other like-minded therapists around the world to share ideas, resources, and referrals. Only licensed mental health therapists will be listed.

Here's what I'd like you to do...

Post a comment below and include:



twitter handle & link
your city and state
specialty area

As the comments come in I'll post comments and paste your info in the body of this post below.


Business

8 Real World Marketing Strategies From Successful Therapists

Learning about marketing your private practice and actually doing it are very different things. I recently interviewed several successful private practice therapists about marketing strategies that have worked for them in the "real world".
My goal is to inspire you to effectively market your practice. You don't have to do all of these to build a successful practice. Just start with one that speaks to you and build from there.

1) Public Speaking


Public speaking not only educates your community, but also raises visibility and attracts clients to your private practice. "I did a lot of public speaking in neighborhood institutions - schools, churches, synagogues, hospitals to get my name recognized," says Dr. Roberta Temes of New York City. Parenting After Loss founder Amy Luster, M.A., LMFT also offers community presentations on on her specialty areas: infertility, high-risk pregnancy, and miscarriage patients as well as to the health-care providers that treat them as part of her marketing strategy.  Presentations on hypnotherapy have proven tan effective marketing tool for  Dr. Mary Sidhwani. "The community learns more about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy and also creates exposure for my practice and services," Sidhwani says.


Business

World Mental Health Day: I’ve Never Met A Shrink Who Didn’t Need One

My grandpa used to say, "I never met a shrink who didn't need one," as if that was a valid reason for not seeking help for mental health problems. After being a therapist for nearly two decades, I totally agree with my Grandpa.
Therapists are an interesting and colorful bunch and we definitely have our own share of mental health problems. I'd take grandpa's phrase even farther by saying I've never met a person who didn't need a shrink. We can all benefit from examining our experiences and getting an outside perspective from a mental health professional during difficult times.
The most effective therapists I've worked with, as a colleague and as a client, are those who've already worked through some of their own mental health and relationship struggles with a therapist, have a handle on their own pain and vulnerability, understand their family relationship patterns, and are comfortable walking with others through their pain. Not only is working through issues with your own therapist good for your own mental health and personal relationships, it's also good for your therapy practice.


General

5 Common Website Mistakes And How To Fix Them

Your most powerful tool to build your private therapy practice in the digital age is an effective practice website. The Internet allows us to talk directly to potential clients who are seeking mental health information and services. The majority of Americans, 62 percent, use the Internet to find health care information (Pew Internet and Family Life Study, 2009).

Few therapists have training in website programing and design, but as technology evolves, more options become available to create a cheap or free website that looks professional and accurately represents your practice. My websites are built on Wordpress, a fairly easy platform on which to build a website or blog. There are thousands and thousands of free Wordpress themes that you can use to customize your practice website. Therapy Sites, another website resource for therapists, allows you to select a template and customize it for your practice based on a monthly fee.

As I've consulted with therapists, developed my own websites, and done a lot of internet research, I've noticed some common mistakes that therapists frequently make when it comes to building websites.  These are the top five mistakes I've seen and suggestions for how to fix the problem to make your website more effective.


Business

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Using Twitter To Grow Your Therapy Practice

What is Twitter?


Twitter is a popular social media platform where users can send short updates that are up to 140 characters long.  Twitter is basically the equivalent of a Facebook status update newsfeed. If you have no idea what a "newsfeed" or "status update" is, then you may want to stop reading here and start by setting up a Facebook account.

Facebook is THE social network site and is the most effective way to build your practice through social media because of it's high number of daily users. Here's an article on how to set up a Facebook Page for your practice.  If you want to know how to use Twitter, here are a few suggestions on how to effectively tweet to build your practice.

How can Twitter help you build your practice?


Twitter, like all social media platforms, is a forum for conversation and connecting with other people online. It is also a great way to spread the word about your practice, to educate the public about issues you care about, and to share your areas of expertise. The point of social networking sites like Twitter is...uh...the social networking. If your Twitter followers find value in your tweets they will share them by retweeting your information their Twitter followers. Over time you can grow a network of people who are sharing your tweets which helps you get the word out about your private therapy practice.


Business

What Do You Love About Private Practice?

Ask me about my private practice and I light up. I love it. I just spent the last day and a half furnishing and decorating an additional office location in a neighboring city. I'm excited to be able to expand the reach of my practice and help clients in other geographic locations. There is such a satisfaction in feeling fully self-expressed professionally and to make a difference in the lives of my clients and my colleagues. My passion for building a private practice is why I asked Dr. John Grohol, CEO of PsychCentral.com if I could start this blog. I can't imagine being happier with a work situation and I want to help you develop the tools to feel the same way about your practice.

I asked several successful private practice therapists the question, "What do you love about being in private practice?" I wanted to share their answers with you to inspire those of you who are considering going into private practice to do it! If you're unhappy with your practice, I hope you'll draw from these successful private practice experiences to create a practice that you love.

Business

Therapist Media Cheat Sheet: Building Your Practice Through TV Interviews

If you got an email today from a local news station asking to interview you as an expert on camera about one of your specialty areas for a news story, how would you respond? Surprisingly, many therapists let the opportunity to speak on camera for a large audience pass them by because of their own anxieties and insecurities about being on camera.

Landing interviews on local news and talk shows allows thousands of people "get to know you," hear about your areas of expertise, and become aware of your private practice.

In my experience, the most effective marketing and public relations opportunities for my private practice are the ones I don't have to pay for, where someone else is featuring me as an expert, where I can reach thousands and thousands of people in one shot with accurate information, and where I can let them know that I am in private practice. Several years ago I decided I wanted to not just accept invitations to interview on TV but to actively seek them out and gain media experience. Over the past few years I've become a regular contributor on Utahs #1 women's lifestyle show KSL TV's Studio 5, as well as being interviewed frequently for various news stories. Here are a few things I've learned in the process to help you land local TV interviews in your area in order to educate your community and to draw potential clients to your private practice.


Business

Getting 3 ‘Fs’ In Private Practice Is A Good Thing!

My motivation for starting my private practice, Wasatch Family Therapy, was very clear. I wanted to create my ideal work environment and I knew that no one else could do that for me.

I felt called to help people heal themselves and their relationships.  I knew that I wanted work with therapy clients who valued my services and time, and who were dedicated to working hard to improve their life. I wanted the flexibility to set my own schedule and take time off to be with my children and attend school and sporting events. I wanted to do paperwork that was relevant and helpful for treatment. I wanted to invite other clinicians into my professional space who were gifted therapists, genuine people, and who I enjoyed spending time with. I wanted to work as a social worker part-time and make a full-time income (a lofty goal in a profession where many work full-time and make a part-time income).

I know why I chose to go into private practice but I was curious if other therapists and counselors around the country had similar motivation opening private practice. I recently asked several therapists about their reasons for taking the leap into the business world of owning their own practices and noticed three common themes emerged. I call them the 3 "F"s of private practice: flexibility, freedom, financial opportunity.


Business

What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting A Private Practice

If you're considering going into private practice, it's always smart to talk to other clinicians who have been there. When I opened my practice years ago, I had very little business experience. Luckily, I did a few things right that allowed me to be profitable (and it didn't hurt to be married to a CPA). Over time, I learned that I have a knack for marketing and networking that has allowed my practice to continue to grow, even during a recession.

Few private practitioners are armed with small business skills when they venture into private practice. According the U.S. Small Business Administration, around 50% of new businesses will close their doors within 5 years.  The realities of making a profit and running a successful private practice can be discouraging and exhausting. If you're considering opening a practice, I think you'll enjoy several seasoned practitioners answer the question,"What do you wish you'd know before starting your private practice?


Business

5 Self-Care Tips For Therapists

You take good care of you clients but are you taking good care of you? Being a therapist in private practice is incredibly fulfilling and very emotionally draining. While it's an honor to be trusted with client's deepest fears, pain, and vulnerabilities, it can take an emotional toll.

Therapists seem to be particularly vulnerable to putting our own needs on the back burner to attend to others. It's why we're good at what we do. It's also why prioritizing self-care is crucial to professional and personal success, and to avoiding burnout.