Kelly and I have talked to 2 big name consultants to therapists this year, and one lesser known service provider who all told us the same thing:
We are done working with therapists.
What? Done working with therapists?
When I am out in the world, I often meet people who ask what I do. If that person has ever MET a therapist, and I tell them I help therapists build and market their private practices- they say this is an awesome niche, and mention something like "they need the help!"
We know from talking to hundreds of therapists one on one that most therapist need support around marketing their practices- so- this should be a great match? Awesome therapists who understand marketing teaching other therapists how to grow their private practice- so why are coaches working with therapists pulling out?
I think we can break it down into 3 main reasons, and listen up! These issues may impact your ability to get great clients (with or without help).
#1. Therapists just want more clients.
Ok- I know not all of you want more clients- but 80% of people who call me say that is what they need. In fact, their business plan boils down to "get 25 clients per week." They haven't set a clear financial goal, aren't sure of expenses, aren't calculating and charging a fair fee consistently, and can often end up "full" and still not have money for taxes, retirement, and health insurance!
When you don't think about the big picture in developing a business, it makes it difficult to make decisions, or be strategic. The reason to spend a bit of time in the beginning on the "business" stuff is so you can get a steady flow of clients and have fun with the part we love- the clinical aspect of our business!
What does this translate to? A lot of therapists getting a lot of information, but not necessarily applying it. There is nothing more frustrating to consultants than feeling like they "wasted their time." We are odd. We don't care that we "got paid" we really want to see change. Without change, we don't love this work as much!
#2. Therapists don't like money.
Many therapists are really uncomfortable talking about money, period. They don't like talking about money with clients, don't like writing out a clear business plan, don't like looking at their profit and loss statements (what are those?), and don't like setting a financial goal.
This makes it difficult for them to make decisions about what to do in their business. They aren't sure how to calculate a return on investment, where they should spend money, or how to build a business that leaves them free to invest properly so they can be successful. At the same time, due to the fear related to money, they often struggle with also investing time into learning all the nitty gritty details. I "bootstrapped" my private practice and spent very little on its launch. However, I invested heavily in time, learning, trial, and error!
So, what does this have to do with consultants pulling away from working with therapists? When you don't see yourself as valuable, it makes it hard to think about investing time, action, or money into your business. In fact, some therapists start to push their money issues off on other people and start to see others in a negative light because they are frustrated that the other people are charging a fee they wouldn't be confident charging. If you can't get paid, you can't do the work- same is true for therapists, for therapist consultants, and for every business owner.
#3. Therapists don't see themselves as business owners.
The video journals for our Business School Bootcamp were ah-mazing! And one of the things that we kept hearing was that we made a point of repeating the words "your business" that really started to get them seeing themselves as business owners, not just someone "doing private practice." Actually, I have to admit- for me it wasn't even intentional! It is just the truth, if you are in private practice, you have started a small business. You are a small business owner.
When you don't see yourself as a business owner, when you don't think about learning the craft of the business side of your practice, you can continue to sabotage yourself. If I teach you how to get great SEO on your therapy website, but your website doesn't get people calling you- what is the point? If I teach you how to get people calling you, but you aren't confident in your fees and slide down your fee so you aren't profitable- what is the point?
Many therapists don't allow themselves to see the big picture related to building a business and get bogged down in these different aspects of their business without tying it all together.
You need to wrap your mind around this as being your business. And yes, you may need a certain amount of help getting the skills you need. And truth be told, I haven't met ANY therapists turned business coaches who aren't passionate, focused, and who don't truly want to help you.
So, be nice to those out there in the world putting their expertise out to help your private practice. Yes, they are "trying to sell you something." They are trying to sell you on the idea of valuing your self and being successful. Why? Because the more valued, successful therapists we have in the world, the more healing happens.
What about you? Do you think working with therapists is a great niche? Why or why not? Share in the comments below!