14 ways to get more therapy clients for your private practice
Whether you’re solo or a larger group practice; a start-up or have been open for years; you’ll want to make sure you make it as easy as possible for clients to find you for psychotherapy or counselling.
Here we share 14 free or low-cost marketing tactics to help you promote your private therapy practice and find more clients.
1. Know your worth
You may find it useful to explore with your supervisor your relationship to money and self-promotion. Consider your level of training experience and your patterns in terms of self-belief and assertiveness. You’ll feel more confident setting your pricing after this, and putting up your prices can instil client confidence in your ability. You may wish to offer concessions, but be clear what makes someone eligible for low-cost counselling, how many places you can comfortably offer, and for how long.
2. Identify potential clients
Consider if there is a particular audience you want to reach, for example freelancers and parents who can attend day sessions; people in particular postcodes; or people with a specific issue requiring therapy. You’ll have a clearer idea of where they hang out off- and online, what their interests are and which marketing strategies, content and messaging they’ll likely respond to.
3. Nail your branding
Start developing your brand (values, mission statement and tone of voice) and develop your brand identity (logo, colour palette, font styles and sizes) and use it consistently in all your marketing communications, including your emails, so your brand becomes instantly recognisable.
4. Offer a phone call
Offering prospective clients an initial phone call for 15 minutes or so allows you to convey your warmth as a therapist while setting professional boundaries. Explain how you work, and possibly offer an initial consultation. Not everyone offers a phone call but this can set the precedent that you work relationally and help you both form an attachment. Feel free to ask prospective clients to briefly describe their presenting issues, but don’t get too much into the process on the phone to ensure containment and safety for both parties.
5. Time flexibility
Initially don’t feel obliged to state which days and times you have space to see people. Once a prospective client speaks to you they’re more likely to be flexible than if they’ve read on your website that you only see private clients one or two afternoons a week.
6. Build a website
It’s helpful to have a ‘shop front’ where you can show potential clients what you offer, how you work and how they can reach you. We recommend paying for a website domain, hosting and theme because you’ll receive more functionality, support and protection against security issues. Increasingly people are using mobile devices to access the web so make sure your site is mobile-optimised (this also helps your website’s search ranking performance). Don’t forget to include your social media buttons on your website.
7. Get a great photo
Clients often comment they’re drawn to therapists with an ‘approachable’ profile photo. It’s worth investing in a professional photographer to take some headshots against a light, plain background. Professionally taken headshots of you, with a relaxed expression, will convey your warmth and professionalism, and images can be used on your blog and social channels, too.
8. Write engaging web copy
If you can commit to it regularly, write a website blog. Blogging is one of the best things you can do to enhance your online search engine ranking. Sixty percent of businesses who blog acquire more customers than those who don’t. Make sure you promote your blog posts via your social media channels. Aside from the SEO benefits, blog posts allow you to position yourself as an expert in your field. Overall, it’s rich, unique and regularly updated content that will help people find you online and this great article by Content Design London explains why.
9. Get active on social media
Set up a Facebook page, or start using Twitter. Or Instagram, if that’s where your prospective clients are hanging out (although bear in mind you’ll need lots of relevant visual content if you use Instagram). Active social media channels can help build brand awareness and community engagement, drive traffic to your website and grow your mailing list.
Only about 20 percent of your posts and tweets should be about your business, although each practice is different so do test what works best for you. Share content produced by key influencers (mental health bloggers, community organisations and media) based on what you know your target audience will find helpful and interesting. Our Facebook and Twitter followers engage well when we share content by The Blurt Foundation.
Use Twitter to connect with journalists by looking out for the #journorequest hashtag and contribute to online therapy features with links back to your practice website.
10. Facebook advertising
Facebook has gradually changed its algorithms so now all businesses must ‘pay to play’. Only three-seven percent of your followers on Facebook will see your organic posts in their newsfeeds. But Facebook is still the most popular social media platform by far, and Facebook advertising is still one of the cheapest ways to directly target prospective clients. You can pay to boost posts directly from your page, or you get more audience targeting options if you set up your ads using Facebook Ads Manager.
11. Google My Business
This is a free listings opportunity for your practice. A complete and regularly updated Google My Business page will help people in your local area find you by yielding a prominent online search position. Encourage clients to leave their positive reviews here (as well as on your Facebook page) because this will help your search engine ranking. Google has now added Google Posts functionality to Google My Business, so you can now post about your services and special offers all through your Google business page.
12. Google AdWords
If you have a website, Google AdWords can be a good option for a local business. Adwords don’t help SEO but they’re becoming increasingly accessible and easier to use for local businesses. Research keywords based on phrases you think prospective clients will search for, eg. ‘therapist in Angel’, or ‘counselling for anxiety’.
13. List in online directories
Paid for sites are easy to locate, and their trusted reputation instil confidence in people looking for a therapist. You might like to try UK Therapy Hub, Counselling Directory and BACP’s It’s Good to Talk.
14. Tell everyone about you
As soon as we started telling everyone we’d opened our practice we received an immediate increase in client enquiries. Tell friends and family, therapist colleagues, fellow students, former supervisors and teachers, old placements and also local charities and community organisations. Often people don’t know how to start looking for a therapist, or how to choose one, and really appreciate word-of-mouth recommendation.
Remember that you don’t have to implement everything at once. Start with thinking about your brand and your audience, action tips when you have the time or budget and see which marketing strategies work best for your practice. We’d love to hear how you get on via Facebook or Twitter, or you can email our Centre Manager, Kate Roberts, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellie Spruell MA UKCP, Integrative Psychotherapist & City Road Therapy Co-Founder
Jenny Hall, Freelance Social Media Manager at City Road Therapy