You are called to be a therapist.
And you deserve to make a good living too.
If you are like most therapists, you got into this business to help people. In the beginning, how much you wanted to earn from your practice wasn’t really a thought. But you have bills to pay and you need to earn a good living to pay those bills and to provide for you and your family.
Whether you are just starting out or need to revive a once-thriving practice, it is difficult to know what to do to attract the fee-for-service clients you want. I hear you loud and clear!
My name is Casey Truffo and I once struggled with the same issues. But I went on to build a 6-figure practice with a waiting list. Now as a practice building coach for the last several years, I have discovered the following practice-building facts.
See my practice building tips for you in the 3-minute video here.
Graduate schools teach great therapeutic theory and interventions but most don’t teach anything about the business of how to attract clients to a private practice.
So if marketing yourself or your practice makes you feel a little weak in the knees – no wonder! But guess what? You aren’t marketing you or your practice – you are simply letting people in your community know that if they are hurting, you are there to help! When you look at it that way, marketing is actually a service to your community.
Many therapists identify themselves as somewhat introverted, so the idea of marketing a practice can feel very uncomfortable.
Panic can set in when they think about giving speeches or cold-calling physicians. In an attempt to avoid this, these therapists will send out letters to potential referral sources that end up in the “round file” or they spend a lot of money on expensive brochures that simply do not result in new referrals.
A little known secret though is that therapists can be the best marketing people on the planet. Why? Because what will get you clients today is being interested in other people. (More on that later.) And isn’t that what you do as a therapist – day in and day out?
There is no “one size fits all” marketing plan. This is because we have different Marketing Personality Types.
I have great news for you! I have taught therapists on five continents how to build successful practices and I have discovered that there are four basic Marketing Personality Types. Maybe you can identify with one of them:
- Introverts: Introverts can actually be the best private practice marketers. Introverts can easily invite people to talk about themselves in a way that makes potential referral sources want to refer to them.
- Technology Lovers: Technology Lovers are in their sweet spot right now. But even if you don’t love technology, having an online presence is no longer an option – so find a 15 year old whiz to get a basic site up or get on your favorite online therapist directory.
- Creatives: Creative Marketing Personality Types can be either introverted or extroverted folks. But what motivates them is their hunger to express their passion creatively.
- Extroverts: The Extroverted Marketing Personality Types have a distinct advantage over some of the other Marketing Personality Types. Their natural ease in new situations and their desire to connect with others makes marketing a practice pretty simple. But if you are an extrovert, make sure you focus on the “other” so they feel validated. They will love you for it.
No one wants to buy counseling.
That sounds like bad news but it is actually good news. People want help. They are paying millions of dollars to the self-help industry for it. But how do they find the help they want? They search for answers to problems they have. So to fill your practice, show your potential prospects that you understand and care about their pain — that you have hope and help for them. That alone will make a huge difference in how people see you.
The solution to having the practice and clients you want then becomes very simple. To build a successful practice, you simply need to know your message, identify who needs to hear it, and then pick the marketing strategies work best with your Marketing Personality Type.
Let’s go deeper here. What is it you need the world to hear? That they can have a great relationship? That they can find the answers to the parenting questions they struggle with? You have unique wisdom. All you need to do is ask, “Who needs to hear this?” “Where are they looking for help?” Then match the answers to those questions with your Marketing Personality Type and *poof!* you can identify the marketing activities that will most likely serve you best. Calendar them, do them, and watch your practice fill!
But what about the money? Most therapists feel more comfortable taking a full sexual history from a new client than they do talking about their fees.
The US Department of Labor reports that therapists are among the lowest paid in the health care industry. I find that so upsetting.
If we want to the profession to flourish – if you want your practice to be financially successful, we cannot let this trend continue. My mission is to teach therapists how to earn a good living – including how to set, collect and negotiate fees with ease.
Our current model of delivering services – one unit of treatment for one fee – usually in-office – has several flaws and may be outdated by the end of this decade.
Our culture can be defined by four major characterizations right now:
- We want what we want NOW – instant gratification
- We spend tons of time online and go online first to research any problems we have
- We value time – and won’t drive or spend time away from the computer if we can solve our problems another way
- We don’t value psychotherapy in the same way it was years ago.
Plus, you know this, our current model doesn’t allow us any paid sick time or vacation. If we need to rest, we lose income. We have to create our own retirement plan.
These two issues (our current model flaws plus our culture’s view) actually give us a lot of flexibility in how we will deliver services and earn an income including and beyond private practice.
I believe it is time to be creative about ways to deliver services – ways that leverage our time and energy and don’t, in the end, cap our income. To me this creates extraordinary opportunities today for the entrepreneurial therapist! (I can talk on this all day!)
You can have the practice you want. You can have the income you want.
Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. I have done it and so have thousands of other therapists. These therapists have built strong, financially successful practices that give back to the community.
Start earning the income you are called to earn. You worked hard to get where you are. You deserve to be paid well for the work you do. You owe that to yourself, to your family and even to your clients.
It is time to take back your practice. It is no longer okay for managed care – or anything – to determine your income.