In this new series, “Managing Your Private Practice,” we’ll look at various things you can do to keep your private mental health practice thriving. Topics will include marketing and business skills, finances and taxes, writing policies, and liability and insurance issues. We’ll also explore more therapist-specific interests, such as how to balance the clinical and business aspects of being in private practice.
To start, let’s look at an essential part of attracting clients: how to market your private practice.
But before we get to a numbered list of specific marketing tactics, let’s look at the underlying idea that should guide your marketing strategy:
Marketing is all about relationships.
To market your practice effectively, you need to develop and follow a strategy to build relationships and make yourself known with potential patients, in the community, and among reliable referral sources.
If you’re new to private practice, you may find yourself spending more time establishing your referral network and getting your name out there; and if you’ve been in private practice for a while, you already know that these are areas that needs ongoing attention. Considering the effort you’ve put in to build your practice, it’s worth reassessing your marketing strategy every few months to determine if it’s still working for you, and, if it isn’t, tweaking and revising your strategy to ensure that it’s generating the clients and business you envision.
Okay—on to the numbered list!
How to Market Your Therapy Practice
To achieve your business goals, you must present yourself consistently—across all marketing channels and in-person events—as a skilled and accessible mental health professional while also communicating in a way that is authentic to your beliefs, your values, and your therapeutic approach. By developing and understanding what drives your practice, you can keep your marketing in line with your values and avoid sounding disingenuous.
1. Set core values. Core values are your fundamental beliefs, and it can be extremely helpful to formalize them in writing. Your core values are what guide decisions and behaviors, and when captured in a formal document, they can help you understand how to navigate your business accordingly. Is there a set of values that is especially meaningful to you?
Take some time to brainstorm a list of three to five core values that light a spark in you. Think about words like service, collaboration, growth, understanding, resilience, care, and what they mean to you and your practice. Once you get a handle on your core values, use them as a jumping-off point to compose a mission statement for your practice. You don’t necessarily need to post your mission statement or core values externally, but they can serve as a guide for how you do business and how you wish to be perceived by your clients and in your community.
2. Create a digital presence. Many people find a therapist by searching online. They tend to compare mental health providers listed on their insurance company’s approved providers list with word-of-mouth recommendations, online references, and therapists’ websites and profiles on reliable databases, such as Psychology Today, goodtherapy.org, and our own Health Affiliates Maine list.
To maximize your approachability and searchability, curate your digital presence with care, and be sure your profile can be found in multiple online locations. That’s worth repeating: Post your profile in as many locations as possible! Some examples: create a simple website; consider writing a blog, vlog, or podcast; create (and maintain!) a practice profile on social media; and list yourself on professional databases. Learn more about all of these marketing options in our blog here.
In crafting your marketing content, it can be inspiring to look around and find examples you enjoy from among your peers. When you sit down to write your own content, choose your words carefully. Use your core values to inform your online voice and messaging. Consider carefully who your prospective clients are and what might resonate with them. Ask yourself, “What unique benefits do I bring my clients?” and “Would I want to engage with this therapist if I read this?”
3. Speak and teach. Libraries, adult education programs, businesses, and local community centers are wonderful venues for you to speak and teach on the topics you are most passionate about. These classes, lectures, and workshops can help get your name out into the community as an expert—and could connect you with individuals who might need your counseling services, either now or in the future.
4. Print business cards. While it may be tempting to skip this step in our increasingly digital world, this inexpensive, simple paper artifact makes it easy for potential clients to retrieve your name and contact you.
5. Learn from others. Networking with professionals from other therapy practices is a wonderful way to compare notes and share insights and information with your peers. (It’s also a great stress reliever!) Learn what’s working—and what isn’t—across practices that are similar to yours. And just as you can learn from your colleagues, they can learn from your experiences as you develop your private practice—the ultimate collegial win-win!
HAM Affiliates frequently remark that the group trainings and monthly supervision sessions are among the most-valued benefits of going into private practice with Health Affiliates Maine. Collaboration builds support for everyone involved.
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