I had a client tell me that he’d overheard his previous therapist on the phone, just before their session began. ”I’ve got to go make some money now.”
Part of what we have to contain in the business container is our own greed. Of course we have to make money but it would astonish me to meet many psychotherapists who went into this because of the pay.
It helps me to think of “marketing” as “outreach.” I think everybody should have a therapist, with whom they meet at least weekly. Forever. I just think this kind of conversation is a necessary component of The Good Life. Look at the California statistics alone: 471 people for every therapist, that means a whole lot of people are not seeing a therapist, and I think the world would be a better place if they were.
So we owe it to society to be experts at outreach. I learned in my previous incarnation running a consulting firm that generating business came from being in relationship with lots of people. This is a problem for introverted psychotherapists who want to sit in their offices and have one person after another just come in and go to work.
One of my many marketing gurus when I was consulting was Jay Abraham, and I was pleased to find an excellent article by a psychotherapist, Joe Bavonese, who has been applying his ideas (and others) to his outreach with fabulous results. He tells the story of changing his practice from limping along to overflowing with new clients, and he breaks it down to some very practical ways of getting connected to people who need what you do. He’s a marketing coach for therapists, too.
“So maybe the sky isn’t falling after all. Private practice is alive and well—but only if you realize that excellent clinical skills are a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for success. To have a successful practice and serve more people, you have to learn how to run a small business, tolerate risk, and be comfortable spending money. Much like our clinical training, building a small business is a complex, ever-changing discipline that takes a commitment of money, time, and feedback from successful mentors to fully master. But if you’re serious about being successful in your private practice and helping more people, investing money and time will reward you handsomely for the rest of your career. You just have to remember always that your work is your business, your business is your work, and you are as much businessperson as therapist. These days, to be successful at one, you have to be successful at the other.”
For the entire article in Psychotherapy Networker, go to: