I appreciated this entry in a therapist’s blog. It’s nuts that we’re not taught how to do marketing in grad school along with CBT and Child Development. It’s one of the key reasons why psychological services are so widely under-utilized. Marketing therapy is a gift to the community.
The reason I have so many referrals is because I worked long and hard to develop multiple referral streams. I join EAPs on the other side of the US so I could be their only provider in MA. I advertise in every free online venue I can. I have a presence online in Psychology Today, on Google and HelpPro. And in real life I am constantly talking with my colleagues, networking, sending out newsletters and giving workshops. This all occurred during those hours I had vacant in my practice to start with, and still occurs, sometimes at 2:00 AM! I’ve got my own hell to raise, so when I pass along a referral, don’t expect me to do your footwork for you.
We therapists need to cultivate our aggression when it comes to getting patients. No, I don’t mean going out and clubbing them on the head to drag them to our office. I mean that we need to be willing to spend hours marketing ourselves, refining our strategies; hours and dollars on consultants and coaches if we need to learn how to do this. We undervalue that part of the business, worse, we sometimes act as if we think it is below us.
In another section he makes a compelling case for therapists to not just become marketing savvy, but to become adroit in the use of technology to reach out to therapy clients. Again, not just because therapists need the money, but because all these people who could benefit are not getting help.
You may think by the above tirade that I am exempting myself from this, but I am not. I still catch myself shying away from talking about online gaming because I worry we won’t talk about the “serious stuff.” I still struggle to refrain from interpreting that conversation about blogging as avoidance. I still send dozens of nonverbal cues that shape the expectations about what can and cannot be considered important in the therapy room. I do it too, and this is a work in progress.
You may also think that I’d be happy as a businessman to have found a niche that few of my colleagues are tapping into.
I used to be, but now my practice is mostly full, and when I have a request to take on a patient who wants a gamer-affirmative therapist, or a therapist who does not view blogging as social phobia, or a therapist who takes virtual affairs in Second Life seriously, I don’t know who to refer them to. I have many names to offer for EMDR, IFS, CBT, DBT, psychoanalysis. I have many trusted colleagues who have years of dealing with mood disorders, anxiety, trauma and bereavement. But I have only a handful of peers who I can refer to and trust that technology talk will not be taboo or overlooked.
I need your help, and I need you to care enough to learn. People are dying, or living alone in pain, because not enough of us are staying in learning mode. People are flunking out of school, losing jobs, ending good relationships and beginning bad ones, and they don’t have time to explain to you and I what Twitter is on their dime. Please begin to push yourself. Download a new iPhone App for the DSM IV ($.99,) , or surf over to Technorati (free) and read a few blogs, or create a free character in Second Life.
This is continuing your professional education: This is important.