1. People are Willing to Pay for What They Value
This includes cars, clothes, homes, massages, facials, online psychics, and, of course, health. They will pay you, their psychotherapist or counselor, if they believe in the value of your services.
2. Become an Expert-Educator
People are willing to pay if they perceive you to be an expert who can help them achieve what they value and want. Therefore, you must present yourself (i.e., market and advertise yourself) as an expert-educator who can help people live well, healthier and longer with loving connections, joy and meaning.
3. Develop a Healthy Relationship to Money
Psychotherapists, social workers and counselors often view money/wealth and care/healing as antithetical. In order to be successful in private practice, you must come to terms with your relationship to money and wealth. You must liberate yourself from the notion that profit and care are incompatible so you can become a wealthy and caring and successful therapist.
4. Learn How to Market to Modern-Day Consumers
Modern-day consumers are not the compliant and passive "patients" of the past They conduct thorough comparative shopping, relay referrals, and value Web presence. Learn to market yourself online where your expertise, competence and knowledge are easily visible and well established (a simple, informative Website will do).
5. Develop a Simple Website
A basic Web presence is a no-brainer in this modern digital era. You can develop a Web site yourself for free or have it developed for you for a couple hundred dollars. Make sure that the website includes the following components:
- Professional background including your training, experience and expertise via a short bio.
- A photo or two (don't look too stiff).
- Personal statements that give the reader a sense of who you are as a caring and engaged human being.
- A slew of useful free information on different mental health topics in the form of articles or links to others' online articles, organizations and resources.
Note: Linkedin or Facebook profiles, and blogs can also be helpful in establishing a Web presence.
6. Be Willing to Disclose
Modern-day-consumers who live and breath through Facebook and other social networking sites, highly value transparency and personal disclosure. Long gone are the days of the blind trust in the mysterious and illusive expert. Make sure that your online and offline marketing materials give clients a sense of you as a caring and knowledgeable human being who is engaged in life fully and joyously.
7. Establish your Expertise
There are many ways that you can establish yourself as an expert-educator in your community. These include: providing free lectures, publishing articles in local papers, interviews on local radio or television, blogging, community outreach, volunteering on health and wellness related commissions and task forces. There may be opportunities to provide lectures for spa or beauty shop staff meetings attended by "unofficial therapists" including hair stylists, massage therapists and manicurists. These people are in the perfect position to refer clients for "real therapy". The opportunities are endless.
8. Can I Help You? Cultivate Referrals
As therapists, we must move away from "begging" people for referrals to a more dignified position. The idea is to approach potential referral sources with the attitude of a professional-helper who has valuable information and services to offer. As therapists, we can help the police chief in dealing with burnout among staff, teachers in coping with disruptive children, overwhelmed physicians in taking chronically depressed people out of their waiting rooms, ministers in dealing with divorce in their congregations, the head of the local hospital emergency room in educating his/her staff about the chronically mentally ill, the local newspaper editor in filling her/his newspaper with intelligent commentary on local and/or world events, orthopedic surgeons in assisting patients with chronic pain -- the creative opportunities are endless.
9. You are a Businesswoman/Businessman. Accept it.
As a sole proprietor of your private practice, besides doing therapy you also serve as office manager, bookkeeper, public relations director, marketing director, business executive, typist, receptionist, gofer, and more. Learn the basic management skills or hire help, but do not neglect these activities.
10. Have all Clinical Forms in Place
There are a few basic forms that you must have available and use regularly. These include, Biographical Questionnaires and Office Policies for new clients, Authorization to Disclose, HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices. You can get these forms personalized and ready to go in a few minutes. Check our Essential Forms.
11. Prevent Burnout
In order to sustain a long-term practice, you must prevent your own burnout by creating balance in your life between professional work, familial, recreational, communal, political and/or spiritual activities.