How a Relationship Therapist in San Francisco Found His Dating Therapy Niche

How a Relationship Therapist in San Francisco Found His Dating Therapy Niche

Being a relationship therapist in San Francisco can be scary! There a lot of therapists in a small geographical area, and there is a lot of stiff competition for getting to the first page of Google. So, what do you do when you are in a saturated market?

Read More

Starting a Counseling Practice Part 8: Choosing Your Niche

Starting a Counseling Practice Part 8: Choosing Your Niche

Niche - it should be easy right? It's one of the biggest things we conquered in bootcamp and now we want to help you deal with this too.

Niche by definition is simply a specialized but profitable corner of the market. Choosing a niche gives your private practice a trajectory. When you have a niche, you are able to do market research needed for business planning. You also are clear in your marketing messages about who you help and how. Your niche will also influence your training choices, for example, couples specialist going through Gottman training.

Niche by definition is simply a specialized but profitable corner of the market. Choosing a niche gives your private practice a trajectory. When you have a niche, you are able to do market research needed for business planning. You also are clear in your marketing messages about who you help and how. Your niche will also influence your training choices, for example, couples specialist going through Gottman training.

Read More

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!

Read More

Podcast: Mud Runs, Spartan Races, and Private Practice Inspiration

Podcast: Mud Runs, Spartan Races, and Private Practice Inspiration

I was so honored to be on this podcast with Matt Bierds, LPC. We had a great, real conversation about what it takes to be successful, where people get stuck, and what inspires me. I even shared my thoughts on how physical training and outside experiences can mirror what we do in building our businesses. I even share how and why "shouting expletives" might be added to one of our Business School Bootcamp checklists. 

Read More

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!

How Allowing Yourself to be Known Fills Your Practice

Filling your therapy practice using authenticity

Who do you get really excited about? Is there someone who when you hear their name, or a particular topic comes up you just WANT to talk about them? 

Bruce Perry, MD, PhD is like that for me. I was just starting graduate school when I landed a job at a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault center as a case manager. One major perk of the job, was a 75 hour intensive training in the areas of trauma and direct service. To be honest, it wasn't until after I completed graduate school that I realized just how LUCKY I was to have that type of training. 

In the midst of many guest speakers, video lectures, articles, etc. I watched one 20 minute video of Dr. Perry... it rocked my world. One 20 minute video connected with me on such a deep level- I immediately knew my thesis would be inspired by that video, it has informed my work from that day forward, and I become something of a Bruce Perry groupie... 

Actually- I don't know what the term is- but anytime he was presenting within driving distance- I was THERE! I must've seen him present 10 times in the span of a few years.

What does this have to do with having a full, thriving (cash-pay) private practice and getting referrals? 

You see, during that 20 minute video- I HEARD his passion, and it was energizing and exciting to me. Partially because it aligned with some passions of my own-but that isn't the only reason. To be honest, there are researchers out there that have some work and theories that resonate deeply with me- but the authenticity just isn't there. I have a big ol', huge really, BS detector and I can spot someone faking tears from a mile away. Crying on command? And then using that to pitch your products? No, thank you. Back to the point. 

How many people have I shared his books, speaking, thoughts, website with over the years? Hundreds, thousands... I mean- this article alone will be shared with over 10,000 therapists around the world. Seriously- you should go check out his Child Trauma website, or YouTube videos

Letting yourself be known

When is the last time you let someone in and really let them hear your passion? When is the last time you sat down and really explored personally your deep down passion? 

People talk about the idea of determining their "ideal clients" like it is an intellectual exercise, but truly- drilling down into who you should, who you must, see in your private practice- it is an emotional exercise. It is allowing yourself to be full present and honest with yourself about what makes your heart skip a beat, and what makes you recoil. 

Authenticity has nothing to do with self-disclosure. 

Can you feel it, sense it when someone is speaking passionately about something they truly believe in? Allow yourself to tap into a particular issue that you in your heart you are meant to tackle, something that you think can change the world and share that with your friends, family, colleagues, personal trainer, neighbor, etc. 

When you give the old standard, general I see everybody vanilla therapist response- it hides you. It puts your work behind a curtain. 

People sharing about people that they know, like, and trust. 

Just remember- when you go to a therapist event and you hear 15 therapists all describe that they see individuals, families, and couples from 8-80- do you walk away with a clear connection and recollection to that person? 

Or, is there someone who speaks about their passion, eyes shining bright, you feel the energy and it sticks with you. They don't have to give any personal details about their life to show that piece of themselves. 

Developing an Elevator Pitch for your Private Practice

Maybe you might say this blog is about developing an elevator pitch for your private practice- but it isn't. An elevator pitch that isn't authentic to who you are won't resonate with people. It won't get them excited and make them WANT to tell people about you. 

When you allow people to see that little glimpse- whether it is done in 30 seconds or 30 minutes- it will change the conversation! 

And no, allowing people to know about your therapy passion doesn't mean you can't have a diverse practice! This is just one of the common misconceptions about speaking from a place of passion- that keeps therapists hiding their true passion and brilliance! 

Your private practice building homework

So, here is a quick little exercise to complete to help you build your practice: 

  1. Why did you enter this field? Truly, what called you into this work?

  2. What did you initially envision your work would look like after graduation (before you knew any better)?

  3. List out 10 books you would LOVE to read and devour in a night.

  4. What clients create a beautiful emotional reaction of "yes- this is why I do what I do?"

  5. If someone was going to give you a billion dollars as a therapist to reach out and really touch a specific healing/helping issue- what would it be?

Yes, your passions and specialization change, shift, and develop over time. However, I find that many people actually don't stray that far from their initial passion and energy. Spend some time today, dig in, get inspired, dig deep- and feel free to share your passion below! 

Want to dig deeper with us? We have a free training next week about the ins and outs of developing a specialization or niche that will get people raving about you! Grab your free private practice training entry here. Yes, it will be recorded- if you can't be present live- just register for the event and we'll send you the recording after the fact! 

Oh- and if you are looking for more nitty gritty details and accountability in building, expanding, or launching your cash-pay private practice- grab a Business School Bootcamp for Therapists interview today. Our next group coaching session is August 11th- and we'd love to help you get on track today! 

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!

How Developing Niche Can Improve Clinical Outcomes

Untitled design (3).png

Think for a second about the people in the psychology and psychotherapy field that you most admire. The pioneers, the groundbreakers, the transformers... what do they all have in common? 

They all have a clear mission to transform people's live using therapy. 

During my first semester of my Master's in counseling psychology I started working at a domestic violence center. I didn't realize at the time how this position, would in some ways, have more of an impact on my future clinical practice than my graduate degree

Immediately, I received 70 hours of intensive trauma training.  They trained me to start implementing what I learned immediately doing face to face work with domestic violence and sexual assault victims as a paraprofessional. 

As I completed coursework, this initial training gave me a unique lens with which to view and apply the material. And, when I asked a professor how the couple's research we were reading applied to domestic violence cases- she said "you won't see much of that," I began to see the great divide between people doing the day to day work, and those doing the research. 

The people who are changing the world are the ones who are delving deep into their work with real clients. 

Therapists just like you are changing the world. 

Marsha Linehan started out as a clinician in 1974, working in a variety of settings- including with homeless women. She didn't start out as the developer of the gold standard for treating Borderline Personality Disorder. She started out as someone, just like you, who was looking to deeply help people.

Even before that, she started out as a person who was hurting herself and trying to find a way out of her own pain. She had been treated by well meaning medical professionals whose treatments didn't work, subjected to years of seclusion, electroshock therapy, and psychoanalysis which did not develop the skills she needed to survive successfully. She had to stumble through the process of healing on her own, and heal she did. 

What takes therapist from good to great? 

Marsha was deeply passionate about helping people who were in the most intense pain, people who others weren't sure how to help. So she committed herself to developing processes and strategies that really worked for a specific population.

She decided who she most wanted to heal, and made herself an expert in the field. I don't think it was about marketing, or ego, or money. It was about wanting to do something great in the world, wanting to help people who desperately needed someone who was willing to do what it took to find a process that worked. 

You can't be awesome at everything. 

Therapists need a wide variety of skills. We need to be a jack of all trades. We need to be able to understand, diagnose, and treat every issue under the sun. Our clients don't often present as cookie cutter representations of DSM diagnoses.

And yet, can we be awesome at everything? Can we keep up on the advanced training it would take to delve into the cutting edge research in treating each and every issue clients are presented with? 

What if you choose one thing to be awesome at? 

I talk to therapists daily who are tired and burned out. They often won't even realize that is how they feel. They might share that they are unsure, a bit confused, a bit uninspired.

I take them through a process to tap into their passion, and develop a plan to reach out and help the people they are most inspired to heal. During this process, I feel honored to hear the way voices change, giggles emerge, tears fall as therapists connect back in with the real reason they do this work- to deeply transform people's lives. 

What would be different if you specialized? 

How would that change the trainings you took? How would that change the books you read? How would that change the trainings you gave to your community? The supervisor or consultants you work with? The clients you referred out? The way clients see you? The way your colleagues view you? How would it change the way you viewed yourself? Would this impact your clinical outcomes? Would you get better at working with a specific population more quickly? Would your clients get a more inspired, excited therapist? 

If you try to speak to everybody you speak to nobody. 

Jack of all trades, master of none. 

Therapists: Be a jack of all trades but truly, deeply, master one. 

Continue to be a great generalist. Know all of the variable issues that your clients can bring in the door. However, allow yourself to be truly great, truly outstanding in one particular area. Allow the world to know about it. Allow yourself to explore it deeply. 

You never know, you might be the next clinician to make an advance in the profession that changes the lives of people around the world. Be the next Gottman, be the next Sue Johnson, be the next Francine Shapiro.

While each of these people have degrees, research, and a body of work- all of that didn't just happen by accident. They chose their path. They chose to allow themselves to fulfill a deep passion and purpose in one particular area and to become great. 

Have you chosen your path? Share below the path you have chosen to becoming outstanding, awesome, and change the world. Disagree? Let's hear about it! 

Intensive stuff: Business School Bootcamp for Therapists