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

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You’ve spent countless hours learning different approaches to psychotherapy, working towards 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. And that’s how to grow your therapy practice as a business.  

If the business and marketing sides of therapy intimidate you, you’re not alone. But staying refreshed, 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 you most prefer working with.  

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

  • What individuals or groups have you been trained to help? 
  • What areas do you have the most experience in treating clients? 
  • 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 things you can treat as they are in seeing that you specialize in the specific issue they’re struggling with. Crafting your practice with a targeted message will in turn help you find the clients you’re most likely to click with, allowing you to embrace 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, you’ll be able to determine 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 if you were looking for a mental health professional for yourself. Would you look online, ask a friend, talk to your doctor, or do something else entirely? Now, what can you do to place yourself in those opportunities? 

Some strategies to consider to build your therapy practice include: 

  • Developing your own website and blog  
  • Creating professional social media accounts on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
  • Contributing articles to other websites and blogs, including therapist.com 
  • Building a referral network with other professionals in your area (but more about that in the next section…) 
  • Signing up for a profile on an online therapy directory profile—and while you’re here, why not give therapist.com a try? 

Build a Referral Network 

Doctors, dentists, physical therapists, lawyers and other professionals often work with clients who could benefit from mental health counseling. In fact, many people may first see their primary care provider to express concerns about their mental health. Rather than giving these clients a general recommendation to seek help, 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 to consider this a two-way street. While you’ll hope that these people send referrals to you, you should be able to do so in return when clients need other kinds of services.  

Don’t neglect to build relationships with therapists and clinicians in your area. This may seem counterintuitive, but these people aren’t necessarily your business rivals. Perhaps they have expertise in an area you lack or can accept a client’s insurance. Being able to refer clients to them as needed will encourage them to do the same for you and will essentially help build both of 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 people 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 that 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 on how to build and manage your therapy practice on your own time? PESI, our continuing education partner, offers a vast selection of CE courses like Private Practice in a Pandemic & Beyond: How to Stay Focused, Profitable, & Secure as well as How to Run a Successful Telehealth Business: Business Plans, Marketing, Reimbursement, Electronic Records & More. Trainings are designed to be adaptable and convenient for all learning styles including online courses, live and home study webinars, and hundreds of free resources and CE hours. Plus, it’s easy to access trainings and satisfy state CE requirements anytime, anywhere, using the PESI Mobile App

Tell Us Your Story 

What has it been like for you to grow your practice so far? What strategies did you find most helpful, and what traditional wisdom did you decide to go against? Share your personal journey with other mental health professionals by writing for therapist.com.

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.

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