The problem with having a niche in private practice

Therapy Niches are a clinical decision, not a marketing gimmick- Miranda Palmer

Therapy Niches are a clinical decision, not a marketing gimmick- Miranda Palmer

It seems like today half of therapists are talking about how wrong it is to develop a niche. And, the other half (maybe all those people who coach therapists) are talking about how you MUST have a niche- like right now. The biggest problem with therapists and niches, is that most people don't understand that niches are clinical in nature, and not a fancy marketing decision. 

Over 500 therapists signed up to take our free training about niche and specialization for therapists. We received amazing feedback about how transformational the training was, but most of the feedback we heard was much more impactful than just "more clients in my practice" or "more money in my pocket."  

During the webinar we got some time to explore the clinical issues and emotional impact that not having a clear niche or specialization can create. Therapists delved into how it felt to work with clients who weren't a good fit. Here are just a few responses we got.

  • I cant imagine sitting in those feelings daily

  • Frustrated

  • Bored and disinterested

  • No wonder I'm frustrated and dread those sessions

  • Question myself while also feeling angry at them for not being accountable

Therapists confided in us that they sometimes see clients that aren't a good match clinically, because they are financially fearful of referring out. Or, that they feel guilty for referring people out and try to force themselves to match with everyone, because they don't want to turn people away.

We then took the attendees through a process of tapping into their deep sense of purpose and passion, connecting deeply with who they could be most effective with in therapy. How did therapists feel after they had just a few minutes to sit in working with the clients they felt most effective with? Let's hear their words: 

  • Energized, happy, beauty, exciting, fun

  • I'm much more energized by the clients I see making progress... feel successful

  • I am energized by the second, it spurs me on to working harder with the client and in my own work

  • energized instead of drained! Enthusiastic!

  • I experienced a huge sense of peace and joy! I realized it's been far too long since I've worked with clients like this

  • my heart lights up :)

  • I smile thinking about them, and look forward to our next session.

  • I would feel inspired to learn more: about my clients about the issue: trainings, workshops, seminars, readings... it makes me feel fun and forward-moving wanting to learn more

  • I feel aligned with my purpose

  • Fulfilled and energized!

  • It feels right . . .

  • Everything clicks!

  • Energized, feels like I'm on the right path. No need to actively try to motivate myself. It's already there

  • I Like to see their name on my schedule. I enjoy the therapy process with them - the insight, the joy, the learning.

  • The time flies!

  • Sometimes overwhelmed with reverence for my work.

  • I feel excited and deeply connected with the client. I feel a sense of love. I want them to want something from the session.

  • I go home feeling like I had a great day

I know I should have edited down those responses... but how could I take any of those out? This is why you became a therapist right? However, even after these emotional break throughs, the fears are normal and kick back in. Here are just a few of the myths we dispelled during the training: 

Having a niche means I'll only get to work with one issue for the rest of my life. 

Not true. People are complex and will come to you for issues that are loosely related or not related at all to your niche. However, as you clearly define how you work- you will get clients who call you that are better fits overall. And guess what, you can change your niche whenever you want, you can have more than one specialization, etc. However, if you keep trying to speak to everyone- you will speak to no-one. You need to learn the skill of how to speak directly to the clients you can best help. 

Having a niche means I'll lose out on working with awesome people. 

Nope. When you develop a clear way to reach out the kind of clients that you work best with- you get better results and more referrals. Your client's coworkers, friends, or old college roommates are not carbon copies of your clients. More importantly, as you get more consistent referrals you will get more confident to screen out people who you aren't as effective with- so your outcomes are better. 

Wait- won't everyone's niche be working with rich people? 

No silly. A niche or specialization has little to do with finances. You were put on this planet to do something great and important. While some therapists and psychologists love working with wealthy individuals- others detest it. While you might hate working with domestic violence victims who show no signs of leaving the relationship- I love doing the deep work, safety work, and empowerment process that allows the client to tap into their inner strength- no matter how long that takes. We all have skills, strengths, passions- and layering awesome clinical expertise and training on top of that? That can make you cream of the crop! 

Tap into your clinical effectiveness, dive deep into what you are already awesome at, make a plan to develop skills in new areas that complement your current skills and expand from a place of strength. You can do this! Have more questions about marketing a niche in your private practice- post them below.

Miranda Palmer

I have successfully built a cash pay psychotherapy practice from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have also failed a licensed exam by 1 point (only to have the licensing board send me a later months later saying I passed), started an online study group to ease my own isolation and have now reached thousands of therapists across the country, helped other therapists market their psychotherapy practices, and helped awesome business owners move from close to closing their doors, to being profitable in less than 6 weeks. I've failed at launching online programs. I've had wild success at launching online programs. I've made mistakes in private practice I've taught others how to avoid my mistakes. You can do this. You were called to this work. Now- go do it! Find some help or inspiration as you need it- but do the work!