Your clients need to trust you. Most therapeutic interventions are based on a solid foundation of trust that allow the change and transformation to happen. We want to impress upon clients who needs us that they can trust us. So how do we do that? Here is the #1 way to impress not only your future clients, but your current clients as well.
Be Authentic as a Therapist and as a Human
Don't panic- this has little to do with self-disclosure. This is about settling into a comfort level about who you are as a therapist, as a human, and if you are in private practice- as a business owner.
We need our marketing materials to reflect who we are. It really isn't fair to have a website, content, and a picture on our website that bares little or no resemblance to who we are. Do you see my first headshot over there? I am wearing a suit jacket- something I reserved back then for interviews... while the picture resembled me... it wasn't really me...
It didn't give my clients a window into what it would be like to work with me. So, I did get clients calling me, I didn't get as many as I did when I put this picture on my website (Me in the blue top). No- this wasn't the official headshot. The official one was of me smiling. This was a shot that the photographer caught of me laughing as we were having a chat. I put this picture way down on my website with some words that basically said while therapy is tough stuff- we will also laugh and find humor in the healing. Literally, the week I changed out my headshots my phone started ringing more consistently. And guess what new clients commented on, sometimes during the first consultation- sometimes weeks into therapy... the picture of me laughing.
Pictures are just one part of being authentic as a therapist. There is so much more that you have to know about yourself, and learn to articulate to your clients.
The Biggest Mistake Therapists Make in Being Authentic
Being authentic as a therapist is NOT easy. Believe it or not, there is a lot in our therapist culture that actively encourages us to NOT be authentic (I could and might write a whole blog on that subject alone!). While Brene Brown's work has been ah-mazing to the world as a whole, I believe she has made the greatest impact in the lives of therapists. For many therapists, this is the first time they have been encouraged to be vulnerable and to be daringly authentic. And what happens? They see a HUGE impact on the depth and effectiveness in their clinical work!
So what is the big mistake therapists make?
Therapists try to show they are great by mimicking others. In fact, one of the most frustrating walls that therapists hit when they go through our bootcamp is realizing we aren't giving them a paint by numbers experience. We aren't the IKEA of private practice building, we are the IKEA hacks of private practice building. We take you through processes to uncover what your personal style, voice, personality, clients, etc. are. Then, we give you all the pieces and then show you all the ways those pieces could be put together to fit your space, your voice, your personality, and your clients.
A truly great therapist who has long-standing success in private practice tries on different things for size, but ultimately is on a journey of uncovering who they truly are, and they let that journey unfold.
A Roadmap to Authenticity
I am not sure what to call this. However, I think there are a lot more places where we need to be authentic than we realize. When you get each of these areas aligned with who you truly are, it WILL impress your current and future clients. They will know deep down they can trust you because everything is in alignment and flowing together. So here is my non-exhaustive list:
Your progress notes
Your treatment plan
Your office space
Your consultation process
Your business cards
Your writing style
Your intake process
Your cancellation process
Your insurance policy
Your phone policy
Your social media policy
Your networking style
Your business plan
Your marketing plan
The CEUs you take
The therapists you consult with
This may seem like an easy list to resolve, but it isn't. What does an authentic phone policy look like? It looks like you not feeling resentful when you get off the phone from a 30 minute crisis call. It looks like you feeling confident about charging or not charging based on your policy. It looks like you feeling confident to talk about your policy with other professionals and not feeling uncomfortable if your client or another professional questions it.
What does an authentic treatment plan and progress note look like? One that you aren't panicked if someone subpoenas your records. One that you feel confident defending in front of your peers. One that you would happily share with your client. One you would feel confident getting consultation around.
Every piece of your clinical practice makes an impact on your clinical practice. If you want to get new clients and impress them so they schedule with you- work on being authentic with your marketing, business plan, and consultation process. Want to keep them until they have a deep transformation and have a healthy termination? Work on all the rest of it!
Share the areas you are working on becoming more authentic in in the comments section.