Being a therapist is one of the toughest jobs out there. Of course, therapists don’t get physically exhausted as construction workers do, but being a therapist may be the most challenging job when it comes to mental exhaustion.
And not only that, but don’t forget that therapists are also entrepreneurs who most of the times run their own private practice as a sole proprietorship company.
This means that they need to practice what they have learned after all these years of training when it comes to helping their clients with their mental issues AND they have to try to sustain a healthy business, with enough cash flow for them to live the way they want.
Combining these two is extremely hard and most of the times the challenges that therapists face lie in they way they are trying to manage their business. Let’s see 5 of the most serious challenges they have to deal with;
#1 Lack of Marketing Skills
Most therapists don’t know how to market their practice and they will start with advertising on yellow pages, passing out business cards and brochures or depending on doctors for patients referrals.
Solution: Take advantage of the internet and advertising technologies that can help you target your ideal clients. These skills may be hard to learn due to time constraints, but remember that you are not alone in this world. You can seek out expertise in your social network or outside of it.
#2 They think marketing and sales are unethical
They consider the words “marketing” and “sales” to be dirty techniques which are not for them and are going to damage their reputation, if they use them. In other words, these two techniques are considered somewhat unethical, devious and unprincipled.
Solution: Let me ask you one question about each of these two dirty words;
When it comes to marketing: Do you really think that the biggest players in the industry have grown their therapy practices by word of mouth and handing out brochures?
Regarding sales: What do you think you are doing every time you speak with a new prospective client?
#3 They don't pick a niche
They don’t focus on a specific niche of clients (for example: couples with marital problems). This means that they serve clients who deal with all types of issues. This is not necessarily a bad strategy for long term success, but when new therapists start their private practice, trying to attract any type of client and not focusing on a specific niche can be demanding.
Solution: Focusing on a specific niche when starting up can bring you clients faster, as your marketing message can easily appeal to a prospective client who sees that you are an expert in solving one specific issue.
#4 No money on time
They experience delays in customer payments. In other words, they don’t receive their money on time. This one might seem like an easy fix, but there is a mental hurdle to it, which is that therapists may be afraid of asking for their money since this way they show that they are also entrepreneurs besides therapists.
Solution: Don’t be afraid of revealing your business side. This is your own business that provides you with money. More ideally, let your clients know your business side (i.e. the side that is going to ask for payment on time and will not tolerate violation of their cancellation policy) as soon as possible, preferable before they sign their contract with you.
#5 Long term clients
Their customers may stop working with them after a short time period of sessions (3 months). This is not necessarily a bad thing as it shows that you helped someone very fast. You should feel proud of yourself! However, before letting this client go, you can do some things that can help you attract more clients in the long term.
Solution: Do two things before you stop doing sessions with a client: The first is to ask them to give you a review on Google. (this will help your SEO results). If they don’t want their names to be shown publicly, tell them to just send you their review by email and you can put it on your website as an anonymous review.
The second thing you can do is to offer them a small gift during your last session. This gift, though, should not be any type of gift… this gift should be a meaningful one. Ideally something, that shows them how much progress they have made during all this time of sessions and that many of their previous issues have been resolved.Appropriate symbols of progress and growth on discrete items could be great examples, e.g. A bracelet with the phrase “You are stronger now” on it.
Why you should do something like this you may ask… this thing costs money right? Yes it does, but it leaves that client the greatest impression possible, which makes the chances of them referring you as a therapist to someone else very high.
What you should do
To sum up, all professionals who manage their own private businesses by themselves (lawyers, doctors, therapists etc.) face two types of problems. Problems that may arise while they are doing their work (e.g. during therapy sessions) and problems that they have to deal with as entrepreneurs (e.g. how to attract more clients).
What therapists should do is understand this differentiation, help their customers understand it as well and then work hard to try to be the best therapists they can possibly become AND the best entrepreneurs they can be.
If you are a therapist, do you face any of these 5 challenges in your business? Do you think there are more challenges that I missed in this post? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Until next time.
Good points except the Ontario college of social workers and social service workers dictates that we cannot have reviews or recommendations on social media. Perhaps other regulatory bodies for Counselling services/ therapy are the same.