Getting the word out about your therapy practice is important. To be successful in private practice, you need a steady stream of clients—QUALITY referrals that are a good match for you and your practice. Letting people know what you do therapeutically and how you can help them, not only helps fill your practice, it helps you help more people.
The more people who know about your therapy services and expertise, the easier it will be for those who need your services to find you and get the help they need. Consider the ways you can let colleagues, prospective clients, and referral sources know about you and your services.
1. Getting the word out about your practice is a community service.
Getting the word out about your therapy services and expertise is really about letting people in the community know about you, your practice and your services. It’s educating those in your community—your peers, prospective clients and referral sources—about what therapy is, who you serve in your practice and how you help them.
Tip: When clients go to your website, directory listing, and social media pages, what they are really looking for is: Who are you? What can you do for me? How can I contact you? Make sure your content on your website, directory listings, and social media pages gives them that information clearly and easily.
Tip: It doesn’t matter what you do to get the word out about your practice and services but you have to do something. Since you have to do something, ONLY do the things you like.
Tip: Remember, only do what fits or makes sense to you to get the word out—and always within legal and ethical guidelines! It’s okay to make things up to do that you like. However, you will have to try things out to see what you like.
Tip: Be sure to make the act of promoting yourself and your skills and services energy producing instead of energy draining.
2. Getting to know people in your community and letting them get to know you, the services you offer, and the type of work you do, brings in quality referrals.
People who already know about, like, or trust you are more likely to refer to you than anyone else. People trust their friends and people they know so that’s why word of mouth,whether in person or online, is the most valuable source of referrals for your practice.
Tip: Connect with local businesses. Introduce yourself to other local business owners who are your neighbors. One therapist I know who moved into a new office went to each one of the businesses around her—introduced herself, met and got to know the business owners and or those who worked there, found out about their businesses and gave them her business cards and brochures.
Tip: Join a professional organization or association. Attend meetings of professional groups, associations or organizations to get known in your community. Become a member. Volunteer. Register and attend a conference.
Tip: Post your professional and or practice information to a directory. GoodTherapy, Psychology Today, LinkedIn, etc. Remember that Linked In is social media for professionals, and is a trusted source for professional services and referrals.
Tip: Either donate products or volunteer your services to a worthy cause and get your name and the name of your practice out there to new people while doing a good deed.
Tip: Consider getting some promotional products with your name, website, phone number, email, and or practice specialties on them to hand out. Pens, notebooks, notepads, post-it notes, shopping bags, led flashlights, etc., are all favorite types of promotional swag that people appreciate.
3. Tapping into existing relationships is the fastest way to fill and grow your practice.
People trust other people and the experiences they have so that’s why when people hear from a friend, someone they know or a professional they trust, about a service or product they choose that one over others. For therapists, the first few referrals after you open your private practice will usually come through in person connections and relationships you’ve already built.
Tip: Build an email list. Who should you put on it? Include those you meet while networking but don’t stop there, add close friends, acquaintances, family members, extended family; neighbors, acquaintances. Professionals you have personally used—medical professionals such as doctors, physical therapists, psychiatrists, dentists, dental hygienists—as well as business professionals who are lawyers, estate planners, financial planners, as well as nutritionists, doulas, Lamaze instructors. Personal trainers, Pilates instructors, meditation instructors, massage therapists, aestheticians, hair stylists. Those who attend your church or who worked with you in the past as well as elementary, middle and high school teachers and coaches. Mentors, past clinical supervisors and professors, classmates and supervision group members. teachers, guidance counselors.
Tip: Send regular emails to your list to keep them informed of what you are doing in your practice—do this at least three times a year. Or start a free monthly email newsletter and send it to your email list.
Tip: Utilize Your Email Signature. Make sure your email signatures contain contact information for your business—links to your website, upcoming workshop, new book or audiobook, podcast, video, YouTube channel, etc. This makes it easy for people to know more about you and what you offer.
4. Consider using some type of social media to get the word out.
Today there are a lot of people who are looking for help—and most of them aren't asking their friends or family for referrals. They are looking on the internet at websites, social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Messenger, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp,LinkedIn, Tumblr, Tik Tok, Viber, Pinterest, etc.) and closed groups, discussion groups or forums (Quora, Reddit, etc.).
Because social media helps you build relationships, using social media to get the word out about your services allows you to showcase skills and expertise and to build relationships with existing and potential clients and referral sources.
When you post a variety of content on social media (blogs, articles, videos, quotes, podcasts—your content as well as other’s), you can build recognition, connect with your peers, referral sources, and potential clients to show them that you are trustworthy. You’ll definitely get some interest in your work from this—people will love your content and want more.
Tip: Not all social media platforms may be suitable for your business. Different customer segments frequent different social media. There's no point in spending time and money on promoting your business on a social network that your customers don't use.
Tip: When you blog or write articles regularly, social media is a great place for you to share that content. You can also share articles that you find interesting, inspirational quotes, podcasts, and videos that you think those following you would enjoy. All these are great relationship builders.
Tip: Record a video blog post and put it on your website or upload the video to YouTube. Record a Facebook Live or Instagram Stories short video. People love this content and enjoy getting to know you through what they see and hear on the videos.
5. Track what’s working and then do more of it.
Know the results you get from each thing you do to get the word out and repeat what works. Quit what doesn’t work.
These are all fairly low cost and not too time consuming tips for getting the word out. See which ones you enjoy doing and that work best to fill your practice.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
For 10+ years Lynne Azpeitia has helped therapists to live richer and happier lives through her workshops, private practice and career coaching, and her practice consultation groups which train, support, and coach licensed therapists, interns & students how to create and maintain a successful, thriving clinical practice and a profitable career