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How to grow your therapy practice: 4 tips for getting started

Reviewed by therapist.com team

therapist smiling talking client

You’ve spent countless hours learning different approaches to psychotherapy, working toward licensure, and honing your craft. You know the ins and outs of navigating a first session and setting up a course of treatment. But there’s one thing all that schooling and experience probably hasn’t taught you: how to grow your therapy practice as a business.  

If the business and marketing sides of therapy intimidate you, you’re not alone. Staying engaged and happy with your career path may require you to step outside of your comfort zone and learn a few new skills.  

Because at the end of the day, when you have more, you can do more. Try these strategies for growing your practice, expanding your clientele, and increasing your revenue.

Find your focus 

If you’re thinking of branching out into your own private practice, or wondering how to make yourself stand out from clinicians in your current workplace, do some reflection about the clients you most enjoy working with. This list isn’t meant to limit yourself, but rather to establish what client base feels like the best fit for you.  

As you hone in on an area of expertise, consider the following: 

  • What individuals or groups have you been trained to help? 
  • What areas of client treatment do you have the most experience in? 
  • What kinds of clients do you most look forward to seeing?

Keep in mind that many clients seek therapy for a specific issue they want to address. They’re not as interested in seeing a long list of conditions you can treat as they are in seeing that you specialize in what they’re struggling with. Crafting your practice with a targeted message will help you find the clients you’re most likely to click with, enabling you to engage in long-term treatment together. 

In addition to helping you attract the right clients, defining your ideal client will also help you focus your marketing strategy. For example, if you prefer to work with young adults, it’s important to keep in mind that social media advertising is more likely to yield positive results than print advertising.  

Embrace marketing 

You may have gone to school for psychology rather than business, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from opportunities to promote yourself.  

A good place to start is by asking yourself where you’d search for your own therapist. Would you look online, ask a friend, talk to your doctor, or do something else entirely? Now, what can you do to include yourself in those channels? 

Some strategies to consider to build your therapy practice include: 

  • Develop your own website and blog
  • Set up professional social media accounts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok
  • Contribute articles to other professional websites, such as therapist.com 
  • Build a referral network with other professionals in your area (more about this in the next section) 
  • Create a profile in an online therapist directory—while you’re here, why not give ours a try?

Build a referral network 

Doctors, dentists, lawyers, physical therapists, and other professionals often work with clients who could benefit from mental health support. Many people talk to their primary care provider first to express concerns about their mental health. Rather than give their clients a general recommendation to seek counseling, what if their doctor recommended your practice? 

It’s time to get out in the community and meet other professionals. Build connections virtually through a platform like LinkedIn, attend local networking events, and make connections with people in your area—but remember it’s a two-way street. Just as you hope your connections will send referrals to you, you should be able to do so in return when your clients need other kinds of services.  

Establishing relationships with other therapists and clinicians near you is a wise move, too. It may seem counterintuitive, but they aren’t necessarily your business rivals. Perhaps they have expertise in an area you don’t, or they can accept a client’s insurance you’re not set up to process. Being able to refer clients as needed will encourage colleagues to do the same for you, helping build both your practices.  

Ask for help 

Building your own caseload, or even your own private practice, can feel daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Consider reaching out to the following types of professionals as you work to grow your practice: 

  • A financial advisor, who can help you make informed decisions about financing and growing your business
  • A marketing freelancer or agency, who can design a professional website and populate it with SEO-friendly content  
  • A trusted friend or colleague, who can serve as an accountability partner as you work to advance professionally  
  • A therapist of your own, who can help you make sure that while you’re working to grow the reach of your practice, you’re also protecting your own mental health and well-being

Learn from the experts

Want to learn from other licensed professionals about how to build and manage your therapy practice? PESI, the parent company of therapist.com, offers a vast selection of CE courses, including “Private Practice in a Pandemic & Beyond: How to Stay Focused, Profitable, & Secure” and “How to Run a Successful Telehealth Business: Business Plans, Marketing, Reimbursement, Electronic Records & More.”

About the author

The editorial team at therapist.com works with the world’s leading clinical experts to bring you accessible, insightful information about mental health topics and trends.