LIVE Mini Bootcamp: Week 3

t's time for Lesson #3 How to Find Your Niche! Here's what you need to do:

1) Watch Video

2) Put into words ONE niche or specialty you want more of in your practice or that you want to speak or write about.

3) Share your niche below!

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The Art of Starting Over in your Private Practice

The Art of Starting Over in your Private Practice

Not everything is going to go as planned. You can follow every worksheet and training and life just won’t always conform to those efforts. Progress will be made and surprises will happen. If there was only one way of doing things, we would all be doing it. If there was a guarantee, we would all be in our private practices without fear or worry.

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Starting a Counseling Practice - A Beginner's Guide

Starting a Counseling Practice - A Beginner's Guide

"Give me anything you can to help me start my private practice."

Every week we receive emails from therapists asking about how to get started in their practices. There is great value in getting information from someone who has been there and done that. Yet, we all have our own unique journey. What works for one person, may not work for another. This is why we created a 10 part series that was featured on Pro Psych Central. It is a great compliment to our free trainings and most articles come with a free download to help you integrate what is taught.

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Building a Private Practice: Real Life Stories with Kami, LMFT

This episode of Building a Private Practice: Real Life Stories, Kami shares how she grew her practice and adjusted it to the needs of her family. She talks about the ups and downs as well. 

Want to get some awesome tips and see what a positive attitude can do for your practice? Check out this interview. If you want to learn more from Kami, click here to visit her website

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The Initial Consultation: 6 Lessons Learned from Shoe Shopping

The Initial Consultation: 6 Lessons Learned from Shoe Shopping

Straight from the podiatrist with a nice limp in my step, nursing such severe plantar fasciitis that I couldn’t manage it on my own any longer, I walked into a shoe store. Not just any foot store, but a fancy running shoe store that felt all together intimidating. 

Here’s what you need to know about me. I wear a size 11 shoe and have since I was in 5th grade, so finding shoes is not really all that fun for me. I prefer to spend my money on travel and fun stuff with my family. So for me to go into an expert shoe store means I was in pain and needed help.

Here's the rest of the story and why it matters to YOU....

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Building a Counseling Practice: Real Life Stories with Mercedes Samudio, LCSW

Mercedes Samudio is on of those clinicians that has a clear niche and is clear about how she helps. She has a coaching practice as well as a psychotherapy practice and she does a great job of explaining the difference. She also shares a fascinating story about using twitter for her practice.  Check out Mercedes at The Parenting Skill.

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Therapist Stories: The journey to consulting and training

Don't worry guys, our website isn't going to be all EMDR all the time! It was impossible not to be inspired at the conference, and not to jump at the chance to interview some awesome big-wigs from the #EMDR world! 

Meet Roy Kiessling, if you are already an EMDR veteran- you know who he is. He has a great story of how sometimes small and big decisions can be absolutely life changing. Listen to his story and be inspired! 

Roy Kiessling, LISW talking about his journey to becoming an EMDR therapists, consultant, and trainer. 

http://www.emdrconsulting.com/Inspired yet? We'd love to hear what your turning point was in your professional development? Was it an invite to Bangladesh? Was it a random leaf falling from a tree? Share a comment below! (Did you know that commenting on other people's blogs helps your website be more findable?) 

References: 

Check out www.emdria.org 

Check out training and consulting with Roy Kiessling Did you know you can sponsor a training in your area of the country? Chat with him about bringing EMDR to your area. 

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!

The Most Profitable Niche

When you search for how to build your practice, one of the top things you are looking for is who to work with. And more than a few times I have been asked, what is the most profitable niche?

You got into business to help people, but you also want to make an income so you can keep the doors open and provide a wonderful life for yourself. Profitable is important in owning a private practice. So it makes sense people are looking for a profitable niche and having a niche informs the direction of your message, your marketing, and your services.

Let’s get to it.

Here is the most profitable niche ever!

  1. The most profitable niche is a well researched niche. In our bootcamp we give an exercise where we have people subniche as far as they can. Even down to zany things like Single Thirty Somethings with phobias related to transportation. Sounds silly? Sure. Then we challenge our bootcampers to research- go onto meetup, use google keyword research tool, check out facebook - all in search of these subniches. From the research you can start to discover what is really out there. You might find there is a group for phobias. There might be a group in your area for Single Thirty Somethings. The key here is to make sure the niche exists. Period. Don’t assume or guess. Get in there and look up statistics to discover what is out there. It will build your confidence as you market your practice.

  2. The most profitable niche is the one you are best equipped to help. Success means that your clients experience change because of the work you do together. Take time and look at your toolkit and who you have helped before. When you understand your skill (and don’t tell me you are an intern or just starting out so you have no skill…I don’t buy that), you are able to communicate this to potential clients and demonstrate the value of working with you.

  3. The most profitable niche is one that excites you. Owning a private practice is a long haul endeavor. You don’t build it up just to quit in a few years. You are probably going to do this work for a long time. So follow your energy. What excites you? What do you love to read about? What clients have you most looked forward to seeing? You need the passion to carry you through the rough patches of business building and to help you soar during the good time.

So before you go get your fancy certifications in a niche, start with what you already have first. And from their you can discover the most profitable niche for you.  A place where a need and your skill and passion collide.

Share below if you have a niche!

What to do when you encounter unethical marketing

Unethical Marketing

by Kelly Higdon and Miranda Palmer

Your character and ethics are the foundation of your business. As a therapist, we take ethics very seriously. Why? Ethics exist to provide a framework on how we operate and to ensure no harm to our clients. It also is a standard by which we measure the baseline practices of clinicians and defines a basic quality of a "good" therapist." Ethics as a therapist are quite clear and are outlined by our licensing boards and governing organizations. 

Therapists that own businesses have to apply ethics to their marketing.

Therapists, as business owners also apply their ethics to how they run their business and how they do marketing. My code of ethics say I cannot make false promises while advertising - such as - a guarantee to eliminate symptoms of anxiety in 6 sessions or less.

However, if I had worked with a 100 clients with anxiety, tracked their symptoms, and 90% reported an elimination of anxiety symptoms within 12 sessions- I could say just that- my results. I would also need to clarify that even with those results, there are no guarantees, and every situation is different! 

Avoiding Marketing Based on Fear

I have seen therapists avoid marketing for fear of being unethical or confused over what is and isn't okay. I have seen therapists throw caution to the wind and say all sorts of things hoping it will get the phone ringing. I have also seen therapists do an amazing job at quality ethical marketing. 

What is ethical marketing?

Ethical marketing is marketing that reflects your values and standards and does not cause harm. It provides value to the person, whether or not they choose to work with you. It helps them make the best decision for themselves. It is not motivated by fear or anxiety and instead comes from a place of abundance and desire to help. It contributes to the therapy market in a positive way.

Ethical marketing integrates the code of ethics of the professional organizations that you belong to, as well as integrate your own personal ethical code. For example, my personal code of ethic is to be a light to my community, providing support, hope, encouragement, and serve my community. For me, this requires me to be active in my community, and social media and blogging are integral to ensuring I help my community as broadly as I can. 

But what happens when we see someone doing business unethically. What is there to be done about it?

Speak up where it matters most. If you feel someone is being unethical, go to the person first. If they aren’t safe and that doesn’t feel doable, then report it to the governing board. But save your breathe when it comes to gossip and slander. 

Always be a part of the solution 

If you don’t place the information in the appropriate hands, you are part of the problem, not the solution.  Ouch! Did that sting? Spreading information without making the person with the issue aware does not help. It’s like when you walk about of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe and everyone is gawking and talking about it but you don’t know. How are they helping by gawking? And that kind soul that whispers, “hey, check your shoes.” And while embarrassed, you feel grateful someone told you.  Those people whispering are part of the issue not the solution. Don’t be that person.

Beyond just not being a part of the solution, pointing out other's flaws seldom makes you shine. Be your best self, focus on what you do like-instead of what you don't. Shout from the rooftops about the things that you DO believe in.  

Is it really unethical? Does it not match your personal ethics? Or, is it something that rubs you the wrong way? 

You also want to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Take a moment and figure out if this is about you or about them. Ethics in our professional organizations are extremely clear in some areas. However, the way that people interpret those ethics, or handle issues that aren't clarified in the code of ethics gets gray.

There are also separate codes of ethics for different professions within the mental health field, and even by geographical locations within the state. Certain chapters of organizations have developed additional ethical guidelines beyond what the broader organization has developed. 

There are times where I (Kelly) have taken a stand, and revoked membership to an organization that didn’t handle some issues appropriately. It wasn’t that they were professionally unethical, we just had a difference in our personal ethics. It was a gray area.

What if their marketing just rubs me the wrong way?

We all get triggered. Often it is by our own insecurity. Just check and make sure this is about the other person, caring about them, and the people that they work. In running a business, I have seen people with strong reactions to how people choose to market their practices.

Let’s face it great marketing takes vulnerability which also opens you up to criticism. But that criticism, more often than not is about the critic. You may secretly wish you could do what the other person is doing, or you might be projecting your own frustrations about your business onto the other.

Take the Lead. 

Above all else, you want to look in the mirror and be proud of the work you do as an ethical therapist and business owner. Stay above board and put your message out there to reach the people that need to hear from you most. 

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!

11 Free Private Practice Marketing Strategies

free ways to start a private practice

I started my private practice on a shoestring budget. Actually, that isn't really true. I started with absolutely no budget. Why? I wasn't planning to start a private practice, and I had no idea what I was doing. I had just quit my full time, benefitted job with the county after having my infant- sort of out of the blue. 

Our financial plan included me going back to work. I had just take off several months of work, the vacation and sick time were used up... there was no buffer... 

So, I did what I always do when I am completely lost- I started researching! While I did spend money in learning how to launch a cash-pay private practice- here are things I was able to do for absolutely no money out of my bank account to my launch my private practice: 

1. Build a website on a free platform. I built my website initially on Google's free website builder. While most free website builders have major limitations and aren't the end point- writing up my website on a free builder was invaluable for me. It helped me find my voice in a new way- and allowed me to see my work in action. I am a kinesthetic learner- so even later when I purchased web design services- it was nice to have a clear idea of what I wanted. 

2. Take advantage of free trials of paid Internet directories. It is a no brainer, in most cases, to list your practice for a free trial period. Make sure you put a time on your calendar to go and assess whether to keep it- or to cancel before you start getting charged. How do you know if you should keep it? You have to ask clients where they found you- and yes sometimes they are vague! If you get even one referral during the trial period- the return on investment is quite high. Here is free 6 month Psychology Today listing link. 

3. Meet new business owners on LinkedIn in your geographical area. Don't stay insulated to just other therapists and doctors. Think more broadly. While you are at it- make sure your LinkedIn profile clearly spells out what you do. Most people have an inaccurate view of psychotherapy. Even if someone has a good idea of what therapy is- there is a WIDE variety in the framework with which therapy is conceptualized and delivered. Make sure you can articulate what you do clearly. 

4. Call up people you know in your area to check in, find out how they are doing. Tell them how you are doing- learn to talk comfortably about your business- and articulate verbally what you actually do. When starting or relaunching a private practice- 10- 20 minute phone calls a week (less than 3 hours) can have a significant impact on getting new clients. Note: You don't have to be extroverted or business savvy to do this- you just have to be willing to have real conversations with people. If you don't want to use up your cell phone minutes (that would cost $)- grab a Google Voice number and use your computer to make phone calls for free! 

5. Make sure your business is listed on free directories. Today, many people go straight to the Internet when looking for phone numbers or services. Even if you aren't ready to launch a website yet- get listed on free sites. It can be time consuming. In fact, even though this is free- consider going to a site like this one http://fiverr.com where there are people who will do this for you for $5. Skip a trip to Starbucks and save yourself hours of work that someone else can do better than you. Include your specialties. 

6. Go to a site like www.quicksprout.com that does a free check of the findability of your website and see how you rate. Also known as search engine optimization- there are certain things you can do to make sure the robots at Google know who you are. It isn't about tricks or paying to be findable- it is about making sure Google knows where you are located, what you do, and your specialties, etc. 

7. Make a plan to talk to your community at least 4 times per year. Talk to local business owners you know who have employees you might want to work with. Offer to do a free talk to their employees on a topic you are passionate about: stress reduction, relaxation, goal setting, dealing with difficult customers, etc. 

8. Make a plan to "talk" online to your community at least 4 times per year. That means blog. Blogs have become a funny buzz word- but all they really are is you "talking" to your community in a written format. Sit down one morning and write out 4 talks you'd love to share- set them up so you can post them once per quarter. Want to grow faster? Consider monthly or even weekly blogging. 

9. Use social media wisely. Too many therapists are using social media without a clear understanding of how it works to build your business and reputation. Instead of growing their business- they are stagnating because they are ignoring real relationships in the world! The two fastest ways social media can build your business: 1. The more people who share your website on social media- the cooler Google assumes you are- that makes your website more findable. 2. The more people you meet on social media and build real relationships with- by meeting by phone or in the real world- the bigger your real world reputation and referral base is. 

10. Build real relationships with other specialists in private practice in your area. If you are private pay- meet with others who are private pay. If you take a certain insurance that you want more referrals of- look for other providers who take that insurance. Don't just send them a letter with business cards attached. Be bold- invite them to coffee, ask to stop by their office so you can get to know them and their office and make better referrals to them. 

11. Have fun! Look for things that bring you joy and energy! There are a 1000 ways to build a beautiful private practice- look for things that best reflect who you truly are. You want what you put out into the world to be an accurate reflection of who you are and what you do so you attract clients who are looking for just that! 

Need more support for marketing your private practice? Check out our Business School Bootcamp, the largest online business training system for therapists.

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!

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!