Increasing your visibility and name recognition in the world of private practice is tough. The ordinary client does not have the therapy lingo to know exactly what style of therapy they need – our acronyms of ACT, CBT, ABA, SLP, etc. just serves to confuse lay people. Additionally, a client may not know what they need. Sure, they just went through a major life change like having a baby, or getting divorced – but they may be completely unaware of underlying mood, anxiety, or personality factors that is confounding and complicating the life change. Typically, a person looking for therapy will do a Google search or rely on word of mouth, and the actual agent of change – the fit and relationship, can only be uncovered after 3-4 expensive and time consuming sessions.
More and more, practitioners are looking to expedite this process and connect directly with the client, seeing if the “fit” is there, and offering referrals if they aren’t. Here are some tips on how to magnify your “voice” when clients are searching for you:
Write a blog
Well, blogs work, because you are reading one! Blogs are less formal than an academic article, and allow you to speak in a first person tone, making the reader feel that they are being spoken to directly. Blogs also allow you to quickly and easily write “new content” for your website, which search engines like Google and Bing like. They tend to “index” pages higher up in the search engine when pages frequently post new content or have original material. Original material is key, as it will actually hurt your page ranking to have duplicate material in multiple spaces. If you were a guest blogger for a friend’s site, it will likely hurt you to repost that same blog. But you can link to your colleagues site, and they back to you, hopefully increasing the visibility for you both! Coming up with original content can be hard to do with a busy practice, and so many times webmasters turn to blogging services to keep up with the demand.
Make a video
People like to see people! Hearing your voice, seeing your office environment, and getting a feel for “you” can be helpful in a quick video. Some people are camera shy, and prefer to use video editing services that use stock video footage, with the professional’s voice playing over it. Videos can be a general “getting to know you” or can be more specifically about a topic that you have expertise in. Remember, confidentiality always rules, so make sure that your video does not display any confidential information – this includes client art work, files on your desk, or patients in your waiting room. Obviously, exceptions are made for releases and voluntary participation in your video.
Be an expert
We all have our “niche” areas of expertise. Often reporters and news sources are looking for a professional resource to help validate their story, or offer expert advice. Services such as Help a Reporter let you filter through and see what you want to participate in, and then you can opt in by emailing your contact information to be interviewed. Other sources include local news and radio stations, who may have a segment on “Mental Health Awareness” or “Back to School Blues.” Local psychological associations even provide guidelines on how to present yourself publicly, as an expert in a field.
Therapists often report that the first 15-20 minutes of a session, they can tell if the client is a good fit for their practice, or if this is a case to refer out. To make this process more efficient for both parties, and also offer the psychological benefit of a “freebie” to the potential client, try offering a free 15-20 minute phone call or in person consultation. This allows for the professional and client to get a feel for one another and “try before you buy.” Psychologically, people tend to want to compensate for the freebie, and so if it is a good fit, they will likely want to schedule a session! Knowing that you are committed to their care helps the client feel comfortable. If it isn’t a good fit, having a ready referral network, like Therapy Hive, can help make sure that the client is still leaving with something helpful.