Tips for Marketing Your Private Pay Practice Featuring Angela Steranko, Psy.D

Jennifer: How should someone starting out in practice begin to organize their marketing efforts? Do you recommend a marketing plan? If so, what books/resources do you recommend in creating one?

Angela: Yes, a marketing plan as part of your business plan is very useful in identifying your ideal patients where you can connect with them and how. I am thankful to have connected with a free business mentor through SCORE which has been invaluable in the development of my business. We met once per week in the beginning and now once a month or so to maintain a good direction for my business when new opportunities/ challenges arise.

Jennifer: For individuals just launching a private practice, where would you recommend they start when it comes to marketing? It can often feel very overwhelming for people to know where to begin.

Angela: I started by creating an excel spreadsheet from google searches in my area of pediatricians, other therapists, psychiatrists and schools. I work primarily with children and teens so I felt these connections would be most beneficial. I called almost all, as I did not have a great response from cold emails. In speaking with the front office staff, or the clinician/physician themselves, I set up times to stop by and talk or get together for coffee/lunch.

Jennifer: Should people focus more on online or community marketing or is it best to have a balance?

Angela: I have been surprised that my online presence has brought in just as much, if not slightly more, than my in person marketing. I built my website with WordPress, keep my website content up to date with new blogs and try to work on SEO as best as I can. I also get a decent amount of referrals from my Psychology Today profile which links to my website. Although I will continue to pursue in person connections within my community I now have a higher respect for the importance of a strong online presence.

Jennifer: Are there any common mistakes people make when it comes to their networking efforts? How can people network more effectively in terms of actually generating referrals?

Angela: Personally, I have a hard time with the “selling yourself” mentality. I think many people do as well. Instead, I like to reframe marketing as making connections. It is always helpful to have a good pediatrician to recommend should a patient be looking for a new one or a therapist who sees adults for when my patient’s parents want support. I think it’s great to be a community resource for your clients and that’s the goal for me when I’m meeting new potential referrals. It takes the pressure off “selling myself” and instead makes it about getting to know this person, which referrals are best for them, what their strengths are, etc. Then, of course, you share the same information about yourself so it’s mutually beneficially.

Jennifer: What are some things that you’ve tried or you commonly see people trying in terms of marketing strategies for a private pay practice that aren’t very effective or don’t have a great ROI?

Angela: Spending a lot of money for ads in newspapers, circulars, local magazines etc. I personally haven’t done this but have been approached to do so. My rationale is that people in need of help and ready to get help–seek it out. I don’t feel that I would be reaching the people in need at the exact right time. But with that said, “the business world” might advocate that it’s another contact and maybe I’d be on their mind when they do go to seek help later.  I can’t speak to it too much as I don’t know the specifics.

Jennifer: What are some specific strategies that you’ve found to be effective for people in marketing their private pay practices?

Angela: Market to other private pay therapists in the area. Their referrals will already be familiar with not utilizing insurance and seeking OON if needed. Also, when marketing to insurance based providers, it may be helpful to provide them with a quick cheat sheet of how to introduce you or your services to clients that may be in need.

Jennifer: Are there any unique or special considerations when it comes to marketing a private pay practice (vs. an insurance-based practice)?

Angela: Know your area and financial demographics of potential clients. Research common rates of other similarly trained and experienced clinicians. (Don’t undervalue yourself). Understand that despite having it advertised everywhere, people will still ask if you take insurance and possibly have difficulty with the fact that you don’t. Some people who call won’t schedule because of it and that’s okay. Don’t offer up a reduced fee immediately after stating your fee. Be confident in your skills and value. As a side note, I also feel like it can come across to the client as a little slimy if you’re quick to reduce the cost immediately when speaking with someone. Like you were seeing if they’d pay x amount but you’ll take y amount. I reserve two reduced fee spots for families in significant financial need knowing that if I bend for one client, I might have turn away another that is actually in need. I also find that commitment to therapy is better if they financially prioritize their mental health or their child’s mental health.

Jennifer: Where can people go to learn more about you?

Angela: I’m the owner, of Fundamental Psychology and they can check out my website at

Jennifer: Are there other marketing resources that you’d recommend such as books, articles, podcasts?

Angela: “Breaking Free of Managed Care” by Dana Ackley is an older book from my grad. school days but it still holds true to this day. I also enjoy the Abundance Practice Building Podcast.

Tips for Marketing Your Private Pay Practice Featuring Angela Steranko, Psy.D

Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C

Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C is a therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland, specializing in working with teens and adults struggling with eating disorders, body-image issues, anxiety, and depression. She writes for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Connect with Jennifer at


APA Reference
Rollin, J. (2017). Tips for Marketing Your Private Pay Practice Featuring Angela Steranko, Psy.D. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jul 2017
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