Becoming a psychotherapist took you many years of hard work and dedication. What motivated you on this lengthy path was, likely, acquiring abundant knowledge and expertise to realize your life purpose – to help others. However, to be able to fully do so, there is one last step to take, and that is perfecting your business skillset.
The marketing side of psychotherapy practice is just as important as your desire to help people. As a private practice owner, you are both the product and the marketer. This dual role is why you have to consider your practice as a business project. The more you perfect both sides of it – the therapy and the business skills – the more people you will be able to help and the bigger impact you will be able to have.
This article will give you seven tested steps towards developing your business and getting more clients for your therapy practice in these peculiar times.
Step 1. Understand Your Purpose
You might not have expected step one to be this personal. You probably wonder: ‘How is this going to help me grow my business?’ However, three aspects crucial for your business come along with being clear about your personal path. These are – motivation, identity, and guidance to follow your most profound purpose in life.
As a psychotherapist, you know that motivation is essential for succeeding at anything. Acquiring momentum for your private practice may be challenging and stressful at times. Associating your higher purpose with these efforts will inspire you to keep going.
Your purpose will also serve as the pillar of your business identity. It will be at the core of everything you do as you build your brand around ideas and principles that matter to you.
Finally, understanding your purpose will serve as a guide throughout your professional life. When you face a business choice, you can always go back to your core motives for guidance. Knowing your core values and who you are, will help you evaluate how the outcomes of your decision align with your purpose.
The Levels of Why
Now that we have made a case for understanding your purpose let’s see how to bring it to the surface. We recommend a simple but profound exercise called ‘The Levels of Why’. It will lead you from knowing your logic to understanding your emotional reasoning behind a choice.
Your most meaningful ‘Why’ is behind everything you do in life. Doing this exercise will arm you with a clear recognition of your passion and purpose in life.
Start with a question, such as: ‘Why did I become a psychotherapist?’ Keep asking yourself ‘Why’ for each answer you provide. For the exercise to work, you need to be completely honest with yourself. Carry on asking ‘Why’ even when you think you have reached your true purpose. There is often a deeper level of ‘Why’, and you need to reach it.
When you do get to your most intense level of personal purpose, you will know it. You will feel that it is the very thing that guided your every decision in life. Now use this insight to build a successful and fulfilling practice of helping those in need.
Step 2. Set Your Goals the Right Way
You do not want to pursue the wrong goals all your life. It would be like climbing a mountain to finally find out that there is no happiness and fulfillment waiting on the top. Then, finding another mountain only to do the same. To avoid this, make sure your goals are set the right way. Here is how to do it.
What is Success to You?
The feeling of accomplishment is an utterly personal thing. How you define success depends on your attitudes, emotions, and values. Your vision of success should serve your life’s purpose and your vision of success in business should serve your business’ purpose.
For your practice to prosper, you need to identify how you will measure success. In other words, set a clear indication of whether and when you have accomplished your goals. It can be the number of clients or the amount of money you have made in a certain period.
Success can be commercial, emotional, or intellectual. Commercial success is represented by the financial state of your practice. Emotional success is the feeling of success that you get from helping someone. Finally, intellectual success is measured by your progress on the professional and self-development path. Take into account all of those when you articulate your business goals.
The description of success can change, but make sure you are always clear on how you define it. A clear-cut definition of success will help you stay motivated, overcome rainy days, and help you make the right decisions for your business.
Set your goals
To set your goals to serve your purpose and bring you success, think of the following questions first:
- ‘What am I actually trying to achieve?’ For example, you can say that you want to make your private practice your sole source of income or become a recognized expert in the field.
- ‘How will the goal affect my practice?’ That is, how will it better your business and your life? It may bring you more clients, or connect you with the right affiliates. You may respond that you will feel less stressed about your finances. Having this answer will keep you motivated.
- ‘’When do I want to achieve the goal by?’ This is a very important question that will make your actions towards achieving the goal more focused and timely. Are your goals short-term or long-term? For example, you may answer that you want to get five new clients by the end of the year. Maybe you want to find a new office by the end of this month. Set a specific timeline for your goals, and make sure that some are achievable in very short increments of time, and some are long-term goals.
- ‘What are the smaller tasks to complete towards achieving the goal?’ Is there anything you can do each day to maintain steady progress? There might be a phone call that you can do right now. Break your goals into smaller actions to stay on track and maintain your motivation.
Create a plan
After you have explored your answers to these foundational questions, implementing some of the tested goal-setting techniques may help you create an action plan for getting more clients for your therapy practice and actually follow through.
We recommend using a visualization-based technique called ‘Mental Contrasting’ with Implementation Intentions, or WOOP, for convenience. It was developed by Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer, psychologists at New York University, and it is based on 20 years of research.
WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan:
- Come up with a Wish of something you want to achieve that is based on your purpose.
- Imagine the best possible Outcome of your goal and how it would make you feel.
- Imagine the Obstacles that are preventing you from reaching it.
- Finally, come up with a detailed if/then plan that would tackle each obstacle and paths to overcome it.
Now, you are all set, let’s move to the next step.
Step 3. Define Your Target Audience Based on Your ‘Why’
Why is it important to select your audience? Moreover, why should it be in line with your purpose? Selecting your target group based on your most profound ‘Why’ enables you to make an emotional connection to your prospective clients.
In psychotherapy, rapport is an essential ingredient to success – and it includes this emotional connection. This is a notion that you are already familiar with and are using in your sessions with clients. You can utilize this skill in a business context too, to create relatable personalized communication with potential clients and partners.
Start by asking yourself: ‘Who is my perfect client?’ Is it someone of a specific gender or age? What is it that they want to change in their lives? Where are they in their life right now?
At this point, you can go back to your ‘Why’. What is it that drives you to help people in the first place, and who are those people? Maybe you had a family member or a close friend who suffered from a mental disorder. It is possible that someone dear to you (or even yourself) had very low self-esteem and struggled to realize their potential because of it. Reach deep within and find who it is that you will be most passionate about empowering. What message will you be most motivated to share across?
The process of defining your target audience in this way is called ‘niching down’. It means being very specific about who your perfect client is so that you can tailor your services for a particular niche on the market. It allows you to consistently phrase and communicate your marketing messages.
By niching down, you also ensure that you develop your expertise in a particular area. Although you might want to help everyone, you will probably be better at assisting a certain group of people.
Here are a few questions to help you navigate through this process:
- Am I equally successful in assisting both men and women?
- Are my services better geared towards a certain age group?
- Do I help people across all challenges, or are there any issues for which I cannot offer quality therapy?
- Am I especially good at dealing with a certain issue?
- Who can afford and access my services?
Step 4. Craft Your Message
When you have clearly defined your purpose, the idea of success, goals, and your target audience, it is time to bring it all together through your message. Your messages need to connect with your prospective clients on an emotional level.
To make it a great message that will motivate you and attract clients at the same time – express your passion. Do not be afraid to share personal experiences and insight. Show your audience that you feel their pain and understand why it is essential for their problem to get resolved. By being authentic, you are already establishing a connection with your prospective clients and building the foundations of your future therapeutic relationship.
The best way to connect with people is to convey your ability to help them change the way they live. Tell them what they can expect from your services, and why their lives will be better after seeing you.
5 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Message
Here are a few practical tips to help you craft your perfect message.
1. Speak to your audience’s pain points
These are real or perceived problems or needs. Pain points usually affect the quality of people’s lives (marriage issues, insecurity, anxiety, eating disorders – to name a few).
2. Use value propositions to solve your audience’s problems
Value propositions are statements that demonstrate how you can add value to someone’s life. They are structured as either of the two: ‘I help X do Y with Z’, or, ‘I help X do Y without Z’. For example: ‘I help parents tend to their needs through assertiveness’, or: ‘I help parents tend to their needs without guilt’.
3. Make sure your message is not too general
For example, do not say: ‘I will help you tackle your life problems’, because such a broad message will not touch a specific client’s pain spot and can make it confusing to understand what exactly you offer.
4. Get to the point fast
Respect your audience’s time. At the same time, you want to create enough interest for your audience to want to know more and book a discovery call. For example, you can say: ‘I am using an innovative combination of psychotherapeutic and other techniques to help people cope with anxiety’.
5. Show great testimonials from real clients
Make sure to include testimonials from real clients who are willing to testify how you helped them live a more fulfilled life. Word of mouth has always been one of the pillars of services marketing, and for a good reason.
In today’s world, you will most likely be using online tools and platforms to share your message with your target audience but the logic stays the same. People will always trust the third person talking about the quality of your services more than when hearing it directly from you.
Depending on the platforms through which you reach your audience, how you present your messages will differ. Ideally, utilize more than one medium and platform available – text, audio, video as well as your website, social media, guest appearances, etc.
Step 5. Master the Art of a Discovery Call
You have presented your message to your audience, and it worked. They are interested in knowing more. Now you have a call booked in. It is time to learn how to successfully lead a discovery call.
When you are marketing your services, the results of your efforts can be described through the concept of the marketing funnel. From the number of people who saw your message, only a percentage will sign up for receiving your promotional emails. From those people, a certain percentage will book a call with you. Upon the call, as a final result, only a small percentage of your initial audience will buy your services. Therefore, it is essential to master each step to increase your chances of success.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid, as well as proven tips to implement to truly own such a conversation with your future client.
3 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Mastering the discovery call is a skill that takes some effort to perfect. However, with practice, you can learn to avoid these common mistakes many business owners make.
1. Disregarding that you are the expert
When therapists own private practices, they often forget that they are the ones who pick a client, not the other way round.
Being a business owner can be stressful because you need to maintain a steady flow of new clients to sustain your practice. It is normal to want to get every interested person to sign up for your services for that reason. However, you get to choose your clients based on your expertise.
Consider the discovery call as a client’s application for your services. Be mindful of who your niche is and who it is that you can truly help the best. Choosing to work with your “perfect client” will increase your success rate and can lead to more referrals as a result.
2. Not being mindful about the questions you ask
You need to ask just the right number of relevant questions to build rapport with your client. However, avoid questions that do not relate directly to their current issue.
Think of the discovery call like a job interview. Your job is to get to know the client and explore their issues and expectations. This conversation is not about you talking (pitching yourself), but about you listening to the client and steering them towards the solutions you have to their issues.
The questions have to flow naturally and lead towards offering the client value; that is, offering them a change through your services. A common mistake is also responding to your client with something like: ‘I understand; I see’ or ‘That is great!’ and then following with an unrelated question.
The discovery call is a part of a step-by-step process in which you gradually develop your audience’s knowledge about your services, liking, and trust. A buyer’s mindset takes time to develop, and you need to respect each stage. The most important thing is not to move on to converting your audience into your clients before you have earned their trust.
5 steps for a high-conversion discovery call
Now, when we learn what not to do, it is time to learn the principles of a successful discovery call. Here are five practical steps on how to structure and lead the call.
1. Create a connection
Connect with your client on a personal level. Make sure they know that the conversation is custom-tailored to their needs and possible solutions.
2. Discuss the problem
Ask the client to define their problem explicitly. Let them talk about what it is that troubles them. Make sure you reflect back to them to confirm that you are understanding them correctly. This is also the part of the call in which you will determine if the client is someone who you can help if they are within your niche. When you establish this fact, it will give you the confidence to offer your services with more credence and success.
3. Share the solution
Show the client how you can help through your services. Allow them the opportunity to ask questions before you move on to the next step.
4. Explore the new reality
This is the step when you will ignite the motivation in your client. Present the prospect of a new reality without their issue. Then, ask a few structured questions. These questions will lead them towards signing up for your services and being dedicated to making a change.
Start by asking them to explain their emotion before the call, such as: ‘Can you remember how it is that you felt before we started talking today?’ Then move on to getting a clear image of what will happen if they do nothing about the problem: ‘What do you see happening if you do nothing about it?’ Then, help them see how their life will change if they sign up for your services: ‘How will your life look like if you do resolve this issue?’ Finally, ask them about their dedication and commitment to the process: ‘This will only work if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone. How much effort are you willing to put into this process?’
5. Convert the conversation
After your prospect has realized how much they desire the change, explain the next steps. Share the treatment plan and the cost. Do not explain (or justify) the price, as that would signal insecurity. If they agree, book the appointment. If they are still reluctant, make sure to ask about what is stopping them, answer their questions and repeat what they told you about how important it is for them to make the change.
To buy, people have to see the value that they get from it clearly. If your prospect did not sign up for your services yet, by answering additional questions, you get a chance to present this value to them from another perspective.
Step 6. Expand Your Reach
When it comes to getting more clients to your therapy practice, consider addressing groups of people to expand your reach. You can either gather your own group or join and speak to an existing group that fits your niche. In both cases, given that live events are restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, modern technology provides ways to expand your reach without even having to leave your home.
Create Your own Group of Influence
The year 2020 created a profound change, different from what most people have experienced during their lives. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions put on social gatherings, some paths to promoting businesses are limited or unavailable. Nonetheless, the high levels of online connectivity allow you to still address many people via podcasts, online conferences, live streams, blog posts, support groups, and other platforms.
These are the times when your expertise in helping people to cope will be needed more than ever in recent human history. For that reason, expanding your messaging will not only bring you more clients but reach many of those in need of professional help.
You can set up a support chat on your website. Or, write blog posts on ways to cope with social distancing and other restrictions in effect during these times. If you are up for it, creating videos or podcasts will help you reach many people in need. Finally, consider starting online support groups for people in your niche who are dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemics.
Participate in Others’ Groups
When you are working on expanding your reach, an immense pool of opportunities opens up when entering the existing groups as well.
You can talk to the influencers that share the same target audience but offer different services or approach a relevant group online and present your services there.
Here is how to do it.
First, choose groups carefully, based on your target audience. For example, pick support groups or online therapy groups for your niche. As an example, the community on the 7 Cups of Tea involves people that are dealing with a wide range of problems, starting with ADHD to work stress. Then, learn what you can do about the group. Have a solid plan before you move on to the next step.
If possible and applicable, build your presence in the group before you suggest cooperation to the organizer. You can participate in a few forum discussions, comment on posts and articles, make informed suggestions. This way, you are starting to build a relationship with the group and the organizer. For example, pick a podcaster that has a significant number of followers. Start commenting on their work, and provide educated inputs. Then, you can offer your services. Remember to use value propositions, depicting how you can add value to the organizer’s life and their group and followers through your participation.
A few tips on marketing your services to a group
When you get access to a platform on which you can present your services to a group of people, you want to master that platform. Aim for a message that speaks directly to individuals in need of your help.
How to achieve that? If you are appearing on a podcast or a live stream, position your talk to be fully inclusive. Explain why different people can benefit from your services. Also, make an offer that everyone will be interested in. For example, offer a discount for group members, a code that the listeners can apply, a free entry session, or a link for your ebook that would help them decide to seek your services.
Be confident in conveying your expertise and show your ability to make an emotional connection. Keep it simple and provide your contact information for questions. Respect your audience and serve them by adding value to their lives.
Remember, the goal is to get your audience to sign up, or, at least, to open the channels of communication.
Step 7. Invest in Life-Long Learning
By entering the career of a psychotherapist, you have started a life-long journey of continual development and learning. To have a competitive advantage in the field, you already know that you need to keep growing your expertise and diversifying your skills.
The same requirement applies to your business skills. As a private practice owner, you need to learn the nuances of successful marketing that will help you get booked out by the clients. It is the only way to attract more people you can help.
Learn how to get more clients for your coaching business and start helping more people by extending your reach.
One of the best ways to move the needle forward is to sign up for a Rapid Transformational Therapy® (RTT®) course to diversify your skillset. It is a revolutionary method that was developed by Marisa Peer, a world-renowned speaker, therapist, and bestselling author. RTT is an award-winning solution-based method accredited by professional bodies and associations. It incorporates the elements of hypnotherapy, NLP, neuroscience, CBT, and psychotherapy, and delivers long-lasting changes in only one to three sessions.
Download our free RTT® Course Prospectus to discover how you can both further your expertise as a psychotherapist, and build your confidence and knowledge as a business owner. The course includes modules on the most effective ways to build a busy practice. Learn from the experts, so that you do not have to go through the ordeal of unraveling the paths towards a flourishing business for yourself.