How do private practices attract clients?
Marketing is the act of communicating what you do in a way that helps the potential client decide whether to book a session with you or not. The ‘what do you actually do for a living’ question is one that I ask my graduate students and fully licensed business owners all the time. The answers run the gamut of,
“Form a healing relationship that allows awareness of blah, blah, blah,” to “Utilize a series of techniques and theories to help the client achieve insight so that blah, blah, blah.”
After I wake up and wipe the drool off of my mouth, I press them for more. After all, clients come to us with emotional pain and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be bored to death by your explanation. The question remains then; what do counselors actually DO that helps them (our clients) achieve their desired outcome? Why is it so hard for LMFT and LPC Supervisors to explain how we help to their LPC Associates? Better yet, how do we communicate how we help to potential clients so they either book an appointment with us quickly, or keep looking and hopefully find the right avenue for relief?
Marketing connects potential clients with pain relief
You know, potential clients don’t have this problem when they have physical pain. Think about the last time you had a toothache. I bet you just Googled ‘dentist in my town,’ or you called your friends and asked who their favorite dentist is. You probably booked an appointment with the professional with the most stars, highest friend recommendations, lowest price, and earliest opening (not necessarily in that order). With a dentist there is little doubt about what she does and what you are expecting as an outcome. In fact, depending on your pain level, extra information about what school she went to or what her office looks like is less important than her availability, her ratings on Google, and whether or not you can afford her, in that order.
Should emotional pain be any different? I don’t think so. Whether we are experiencing emotional or physical pain, we want relief. When we want it, the level of expertise we expect, and what we are willing to pay for that relief is a different matter. If your pain is a manageable two or three out of a high score of ten, you may tend to take your time to explore different options. You may also, in the meantime, develop what are commonly known as coping skills. Ideally you would work those coping skills into a daily regimen of self-care (think daily tooth brushing) to keep your pain manageable.
If your emotional pain started creeping past manageable to a level-10-toothache pain, your need for relief might become urgent. Your criteria for a competent professional would resemble the criteria you had for your dentist: great ratings, affordable price, and immediate availability. If Dr. Smith’s office staff could explain quickly that Dr. Smith is affordable and available, you wouldn’t need them to explain her master’s thesis or how dental medicine works. You would assume she could relieve your pain.
How do I market myself as a therapist?
Counselors, therapists, and LPC Supervisors are highly skilled professionals trained in the art of emotional pain relief. We use our skills to promote insight in our clients so they feel better. When they feel better, we terminate treatment. If they don’t feel better, then we look at our treatment plan and make adjustments. If we make adjustments and our clients are still not feeling better, we help them find a specialist who can meet their needs and hopefully accomplish what we could not.
How might this work in the real world?
Let’s take Lyle the counselor. Potential client Sheila is calling Lyle for an appointment. Lyle doesn’t know Sheila’s emotional pain level yet, so they ask Sheila to tell them a little about her situation so that they can offer some recommendations. Based on what Sheila says, Lyle would be able to tell her three things:
- “Yes that is an area I am familiar with and have experience helping”
- “In the first session I will ask you questions [assessment], give you something to do outside of session [homework], course-correct in the second session based on your feedback [further assessment], so by the third session you have some goals and a good idea if working with me will be a good fit [treatment plan].”
- “My next opening is Tuesday December 3 at 3:00 or Wednesday December 4 at 5:30.”
Sometimes this is referred to as a ‘sales conversion’ speech because only one of two outcomes is possible: the potential client is ‘converted’ to an actual client or the potential client keeps making phone calls to find a better fit. Either way, Lyle has an opportunity to connect a suffering individual with appropriate pain relief without going into the weeds about what counseling is and what it is not. If they follow this map, Lyle will stay ethical and avoid:
- Converting Sheila based on a confusing message (Sheila stays in pain longer)
- Converting Sheila because he is a ‘generalist’ and he can help anybody with anything
- Converting Sheila because he needs the cash
When we have physical or emotional pain, we all want the same thing: pain relief. LPC Supervisors need to be able to teach counselor Associates how to explain just as well as a dentist how their skills can help make that happen so potential clients are ‘converted’ to actual clients if they are a good fit. Counselors need to be equally adept at accepting when they are NOT a good fit so the potential client can keep making phone calls to find a provider who can help.
Blog by Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor in Texas
For more information click here to get The Essential Guide for Self-Employed Mental Health Professionals and Supervisors.
Find examples of great marketing, 10 minute consultations, and thirty second elevator speeches at Dr. Kate Walker’s You Tube Channel.
Tag:40 hour clinical supervisor training course, 40 hour LMFT supervisor training course, 40 hour LPC supervisor training course, 40 hour LPc/lmft supervisor training course, 40 hour supervisor training course, clinical supervising, clinical supervision, clinical supervisor, counseling, counseling practice marketing, Kate walker, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed mental health clinician, lmft, LMHC, Lpc s training Texas, Lpc supervisor, Lpc supervisor training, LPC Supervisor Training Texas, marketing yourself, mental health practice marketing, Private Practice, private practice counselor, private practice marketing, private practice resources, Private Practice Strategies, Texas lpc supervisor training, therapist, therapy