Power of Online Presence

10 Reasons to Become a Media-Savvy Therapist

About 8-9 years ago, I felt a pull toward gaining media and social media skills and expertise. At the time, I wasn't sure why...or how. In hindsight, I now see the clear benefits of my media visibility for my private practice and for me as a professional. I also had no idea how fun it would be to build relationships (with producers, journalists, reporters, TV hosts, etc.), educate my community, and share my message and expertise with thousands of people. This decision to become media-savvy has altered the course of my professional life in exciting and new ways. Because my practice has grown so much (3 locations, 20 employees) and requires more management, because I'm increasingly involved in media work and content creation, and because it felt like the right thing to do, I have retired from clinical work. I now focus on writing, private practice business consulting, earning my PhD, and spending time with my family. These opportunities would not have been possible had I not acquired social media skills.

Reflecting on my career (thus far), I want to share with you some tangible benefits of becoming proficient with (social) media and maintaining an online presence. Here are 10 things you can do by becoming a media-savvy therapist:

1) Educate Your Community; Educate The World

The mental health field is by nature a helping profession. We became therapists to help people who are struggling in some aspect of their lives, right? One of the biggest ways to do is this by educating individuals. No matter your area of expertise (marriage therapy, addiction, depression, etc.), you have valuable insight that you can share with your community to serve them and better their lives. By embracing media (TV, radio, print) and newer technologies (blogging, podcasts, social media), your message can be amplified exponentially, causing you to reach a greater audience.

2) Grow Your Practice (even during an economic downturn!

I founded my private practice (Wasatch Family Therapy) in 2002 and consider myself an early adopter of technology. We created a website not long after we opened and have fully embraced and utilized social media as the years have gone by. To say that this has grown our practice is an understatement: maintaining a strong online presence has beenour number one strategy in acquiring new clients. What's more is that we now refer out over half of the individuals who seek our services (click here to read more about how our practice grew even in the economic downturn of 2008).

3) Increase Your Credibility Through Social Proof of Expertise

As you use your platform(s) of choice (blog, Facebook, Google+, etc.) to create content and build your body of work, you will in time gain followers who are interested in what you have to say. This will establish your social relevance and up your credibility. Others now view you as an expert and someone to be trusted. This can open up doors for you professionally, just like it has done for me! (read here about how gaining a social media following has brought me valuable career opportunities).

4) Employ a Fee-for-Service Model 

Because I am familiar to more people, I have been able build a fee-for-service practice. This has led to increased income and has kept my clinicians from having to deal with the stress and burden of insurance companies. A private pay model also helps provide better quality therapy for clients. And once again, it's due in large part to our strong media presence that we were able to "break up with managed care."

5) Raise Visibility For Your Profession 

We as therapists often lament the fact that mental health issues don't receive as much airtime as they deserve (though thankfully, this seems to be changing). Your media skills can help bring these topics to the forefront for your friends, family, and followers. For example, NASW has featured my work in their media news and even invited me to do national webinars. Good media interviews add visibility and educate the public about your profession in general and also about your specific expertise.

6) Create Additional Income Streams (book deals, paid blogging, consulting, etc.) 

There is so much more to being in this field than seeing clients. My online presence has afforded me the opportunities to write for major websites and blogs, consult others about how to best build their practice, and even write a book (currently working on my second one)! By growing your media skills, you too can diversify your professional activities and create multiple streams of income for yourself.

7) Create Content For Your Blog

The information you access through your social media platforms can give you great inspiration for your blog. For example, when I do a TV interview, I then post it on my site, which improves SEO and provides new and engaging content. I've found that because of my technology connections, I never am lacking for material to blog or write about.

8) Reach MORE People With Your Message, Passion, & Expertise 

The power that social media provides to reach others is truly unparalleled. I can now talk with hundreds or thousands of people at one time with each interview, not to mention the many more who will watch, listen, or read it online later. You can infinitely expand your outreach and get your message out there by utilizing media and social technologies.

9) Add Incentive for Additional Clinicians To Join Your Practice 

My media presence and relationships have given other clinicians a reason to work for me instead of opening their own practice. So individuals who potentially may have been my competition are now on my team! Your media presence (blog, interviews, Facebook, etc.) can attract new therapists who know about your vision, values, and niche from what they've seen online.

10) Gain Recognition by Professional Organizations

My media appearances and online presence has garnered the attention of reputable organizations, and I'm grateful to have received some notable accolades. For example, I was named #1 online influencer for depression, and #2 mental health online influencer by ShareCare (a social media health company founded by Dr. Oz, Discovery Communications, and WebMD's Jeff Arnold), and received the 2015 National Association of Social Worker Award for my website JulieHanks.com.

How can YOU improve your media-savviness?

And what great opportunities await you as you do? 

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Extra! Extra! Using a Newsletter to Build Your Private Practice

newsletter If there is anything you've taken from reading posts on Private Practice Toolbox, it likely has to do with the importance of having a strong online presence to educate and serve your community. There's a lot to consider: social media, blogging, podcasting, SEO, etc. But there's another aspect of building your practice that we haven't quite covered yet: newsletters.

Newsletters are a tool you may consider implementing for your practice. A newsletter is a letter you send out to your clients and readers updating them on what's happening with your practice (it's a good idea to send them out monthly; you don't want to overwhelm your audience with too much from you, but you also don't want them to forget about you). They can be an effective way to connect with your readers and offer some insight on topics related to your specialty, inform them of any upcoming events or seminars, and just overall keep in touch.

Newsletter or Blog Post?

If you're continually producing fresh content, there's often a question of where to place it. Does it work better for a newsletter or for a blog post? While there will be some overlap between the two, there are significant differences between what type of content is best for what medium. Anyone can read your blog or site, but your newsletter is much more tailored and specific, and only people who have subscribed will receive it. These are local users who have shown that they have a specific interest in what you have to say. So while your blog is perhaps more for the purpose of acquiring new clients, a newsletter is best fitted for engaging with current clients.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you have information to share that you feel would be valuable for both potential and existing clients, sometimes a slight adjustment in wording or format between mediums can make your content fit both a blog post and a newsletter.

Building Your List

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to attract and engage with clients and is the means through which you'll facilitate your newsletter. This is where you create a list of contacts to communicate with via email. But acquiring a list takes time and effort. Some therapists choose to gather emails at speaking events and conferences. Others may ask for permission to leave a sign-up sheet at physicians' offices or other public settings. Also, providing an opt-in on your website or blog is another way to generate contacts for your list. If you are taking the time to create content for newsletters, you want enough readers to make it worth your while, and building your email list is key.

Programs for Email Newsletters:

Although some do choose to send hard copies of their newsletters, most opt to use emails (hard copies quickly get expensive, and dealing with home addresses can be very inconvenient). But in order to be more efficient and professional, you'll want to use another email program than simply Gmail or Yahoo. Some well-known systems for email lists include Mailchimp and Constant Contact. These both have free trial periods and then have varying prices depending on your number of subscribers and the volume of emails you send out. Thankfully, email marketing programs for your newsletters are not very costly investments; Mailchimp allows users to send unlimited emails to 500 subscribers for only $10 per month. Take time to experiment with the different features and automations of these programs, and they can be an invaluable part of your newsletter campaign.

Newsletters are yet another way to reach out to your community and get the word out about your private practice. Consider the time investment necessary, the potential results (acquiring new clients, having more individuals come to your events, gaining more blog readers, etc.), and the costs, and then decide whether they would be a useful tool for your therapy practice.

What are YOUR experiences with newsletters?

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The Power of Online Presence: Blogger Dawn Friedman uses her Advanced SEO Skills to Rank High in Google

540496_160644944100475_625876816_n Discover how some very successful mental health professionals use blogging, social media, and other technologies as powerful tools for their therapy practices.

Dawn Friedman, MSEd LPC, is a clinical counselor specializing in issues surrounding family building, including infertility, adoption, pregnancy, and parenting. An early adopter of technology, Dawn started a blog that became the basis of her strong online presence and has helped her grow a thriving practice. Read about her story here:

When and how did you first start putting time and effort into maintaining a strong online presence?

Back in 2001, I started a personal blog that I continued for about ten years. In that time, blogging went from a fairly introverted way to journal to a massive (and competitive) industry. Because I had started early, I got to see the field of blogging really take off and learn it as it happened. So when I turned to blogging for a private practice I hadn't opened yet (about a year before I planned to launch), I already had a strong understanding of how blogging and other social media work. 

Starting my professional blog a year before my practice opened gave me time to play around with the design (in WordPress) and think about how to lay it all out. It also gave me the space to find my blogging voice. I wasn't sure how to switch from personal writing to more careful disclosure as a therapist, and it took some time and bumbling around to figure out how to be friendly, open, and myself without giving away so much information that it might overwhelm a potential client. I started out way too impersonal and over time let myself loosen up and have more fun with what I wrote. The advantage, too, of starting a year in advance is that having a living, breathing web site that was already getting some traffic made it much easier to start showing up in local searches once I was ready to launch. The blog was already going, and I just needed to focus on creating the pages that described my services, hosted my paperwork, etc.

Please describe what social platforms you currently use.

I used to do social media consulting on the side back in my personal blogging days. What I told clients was to go and claim your online real estate, which means grab the Twitter handles, the Instagram names, etc. Even if you're not going to use them, you don't want someone else to have them. So technically, I have most of the social platforms, but I don't use them all. Many of them you can keep alive passively (WordPress blogs will automatically post to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Facebook if you're using JetPack). Once you have all your accounts lined up, you can figure out which ones make the most sense for you to put more work into.

For me, I put the greatest effort into my blog and website.  I've worked very hard on my search engine optimization (SEO) and am on the front page for most of the local searches that I've targeted. The second place where I put in effort is on my Facebook page. I have a professional page and a personal account. My personal account is on lockdown with the privacy settings but I assume anything posted on the internet could potentially show up on a client's screen, so I bear that in mind when I'm posting. That said, I've found that Facebook is the social media site that will drive the most traffic -- especially local traffic, which is what I want -- to my site. I have my blog automatically post new updates to my professional page, and then I share from my page to my personal account. Since doing this, I've seen an increase in traffic, and more people have liked my page. So overall, I do invest some time into Facebook, but I'd rather spend more energy on my blog. It's a very personal choice, and there's no right way for everybody.

About how much time do you devote to your online presence? How do you balance it with your other work responsibilities?

Back in my journaling days, I would blog daily. Now, if I can post six to eight times a month, I'm pretty happy. I'd like to post more because I really enjoy it, but I just get too busy. Other than putting out new content, I also spend a few hours each month updating my site, playing around with my theme, changing out my front page picture, and looking at my stats to see where I can consolidate pages or tighten up my menu. I keep an eye on the number of hits the different pages get. For example, I realized that the part of my site that people clicked the least amount was "Services," so I turned it into a menu header. This led to an increase in clicks directly to services people are interested in. I also am always tweaking and adding things that might help my search engine optimization, which I think is a lot of fun because it's like a game!

What kinds of things do you use to inspire your content creation; what do you write about?

I usually write about things that tend to come up a lot in sessions. For example, many of the children I see struggle with anxiety, and I get quite a few questions about that subject too, so I wrote a three-part series on child anxiety. I also write about books I've read -- counseling related or not -- share fun music videos, and highlight local events that my potential and current clients might be interested in.

I will add that sharing local resources helps me in several ways: It gives me a writing topic, it allows me to share good information with readers who will welcome it, it lets me to network to get that resource up on my blog, and it improves my local SEO. I mean, it's fun to get readers from all over the world but unless you live within driving distance to my office, you're unlikely to become a client or refer me to someone you know. Sharing local events makes it clear that I want to be a resource for my community here in town, and it's also much more likely to be shared by locals on Twitter or Facebook. Win/win!

Back when I did social media consulting, I'd tell people to share the kinds of things you might find yourself talking about at a dinner party. What interesting, fun anecdotes do you have? What thought provoking things have you come across? Even though things like SEO and header tags are important, sometimes you have to put aside the worry and just write. Find your voice first, and your blog will benefit you even if you don't do all that social media stuff "right." Trust me on this. If people like what you write, they will share it, and that will help your traffic. Also, people who click to you from a directory or a Google search will have the opportunity to get to know you, which will increase the chance that the people who call you will be a good fit for your practice.

Just write!

How do you best balance personal and professional in your online activities? Please give examples.

This was a tricky thing to figure out, and it's something that I still reflect on regularly since I think ethics demand that we always be thoughtful and aware about what we share and how that might impact our clients. I do know that I tend to be more comfortable with disclosure than some therapists, and I think that's a matter of personal style. On the other hand, I've seen therapists share way, way more than I'd be willing to do (And I say this having lots of published essays out there that will give any client with Google the opportunity to learn my kids' names, my political beliefs and my personal philosophies on a whole bunch of things). 

Generally, I've decided that I will share anything on my blog that I might share in a session. For example, I might write about a parenting challenge I've faced personally to illustrate a developmental phase presenting in a client's family because that's something we might talk about together in my office (Note: I always get my kids' permission before posting stories about them). When I want to write about something that might make a client even slightly worry that I'm talking about him/her, I'll write about a fictional character. In the series on anxiety, instead of using a fake Jane Doe, (which might lead a client to think I'm writing about his or her child) I wrote about Goldilocks. This allows me to illustrate ideas without threatening anyone's therapeutic relationship. I've written about Harriet the Spy and Ramona Quimby, too, to talk about kids. Other therapists might like using characters on television shows or movies. Using fictional characters not only protects clients from thinking they're seeing themselves in what you write, it's also a fun way to call out cultural touchstones that speak to you.

What is some tangible evidence that your online presence has grown your business?

I've had many clients come to see me because of something they've read on my blog. Someone will share something I wrote on Facebook, and another person will see it, click through, and see that I'm a therapist and then call me. I've also had people go looking for a therapist and stop to read my blog first. Sometimes people tell me that they've read my blog for several weeks or months before making that leap. Having that updating, ongoing resource made it easier for them to feel safe making the call. Some clients say that they want to see me even though I don't take their insurance because they like what I said about a particular topic or feel like they would be comfortable with me. In other words, they want to see me, not just whatever therapist answers the phone first.

Also my blog and attention to SEO has kept me on the front page of local Google searches for my target market. That's huge and has definitely been a tremendous help in my practice building. It's not just potential clients, either. Referral sources use Google, too.

Besides attracting clients, what other ways has your strong online presence helped you?

My blog has helped me secure speaking and writing gigs. I've stepped way, way back on my professional writing since working on my practice, but both my personal blog and professional blog have brought editors to me. Networking is also easier when you have a great web site. It's fun to meet someone for coffee and have them say, "I already know this about you..." It makes starting those conversations easier.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered creating and maintaining your online presence?

There were some technical challenges I had when I first started my professional blog. I was using the URL I had used for my personal blog so that I wouldn't lose out on traffic. I had to change the URL and needed a 301 redirect to maintain that traffic. This is one of those things that sounds scary and complicated, but is actually pretty easy. There's a great explanation of how to do this on Wordpress if you're ever in need.

Beyond that, it's easy to become overwhelmed or to think you need to use every bell and whistle available. I tend to try out new things for a little while, then drop them if they're not useful. Part of this is that I just like learning this stuff, but I do have to watch my time constraints. It's way more fun to me to create a great, shareable image on Canva than it is to write up my case notes, so sometimes I reward myself with online tweaking when I'm all caught up on paperwork.

Also it's tempting to save things. Like save that great metaphor for my next talk, or save that terrific example for writing I might publish elsewhere. I've since learned that the more I give, the more I have to give. Memoirist Annie Dillard said:

"One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

It's true. The more you write, the more you share, the more you will create. To hold back is a little bit like never adding weights to your lifting routine because you want to save it for when you're stronger. It's the exact opposite really.

What tips or resources can you recommend to help therapists who are new to the online world of blogging, social media, SEO, etc.?

I really like Amy Lynn Andrews for her series on starting a blog. I send her information to people all of the time. It's clear, it's easy to implement, and it works. I also like her newsletter for staying up to date on different tools that might be useful. She's not specific to counseling, but I always learn something, and even though she's super beginner-friendly, she also points to other resources for when you're ready to dig deeper into social media and SEO.

Dawn Friedman MSEd LPCphoto-225x300

Website: www.BuildingFamilyCounseling.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BuildingFamilyCounseling


The Power of Online Presence: Facebook Brings Australian Parenting Expert Elly Taylor International Opportunities

Screen shot 2014-12-09 at 12.20.24 PM  

Discover how some very successful mental health professionals use blogging, social media, and other technologies as powerful tools for their therapy practices.

Elly Taylor, AARC, is an Australian Relationship Counsellor, Parenthood Researcher and advocate for emotional health. She teaches parents and professionals about the eight stages of early parenthood following pregnancy so families can bed down solid foundations for psychological, emotional and relational growth. You can learn more about Elly’s work at www.ellytaylor.com.

When and how did you first start putting time and effort into maintaining a strong online presence?

With two teenagers at home, "Facebook" was a dirty word in our house a few years ago! Then, after my book Becoming Us was published here by Harper Collins in Australia, I met up with a very successful author friend who was giving me tips on marketing and how social media had made all the difference for her. I squirmed awkwardly in my seat and said something like “I really want my book to spread through word of mouth." She looked at me straight and said “Elly, these days that’s called social media.” So I reluctantly hopped on Facebook and found it completely overwhelming! Until I found there were groups. I love groups; part of my job is leading them. After a few months of participating in conversations in a couple of different groups about birthing, I received my first invitation to present my research in the United States... through a Facebook message!

Please describe what social platforms you currently use. 

I would use more if I could get off Facebook! I’m on LinkedIn and will be more active on there when I start my group for Family Focused Perinatal Professionals early next year. I’m also on Twitter, but don’t find it as warm and fuzzy as Facebook. I like seeing people’s kid pics. I did start a couple of Pinterest boards, but I’m worried I will get completely lost in there and weeks will pass and I’ll forget to eat…

About how much time do you devote to your online presence? How do you balance it with your other work responsibilities? 

Far too much at the moment! The plan for next year is to spend two days face-to-face with clients, one in my office and one via Skype for interstate and overseas clients. That leaves three days for writing and social media-ing. And the weekend to recover from my online hangover!

What kinds of things do you use to inspire your content creation; what do you write about?

I try to write about the stuff that’s unspoken, and with expecting and new parents, there’s plenty to cover! I write about the ways parenthood changes life and love and how to work with the changes and support your partner to do the same so you both grow together through them. So many relationships come undone through lack of awareness. In this information age, that shouldn’t be happening.

I also have found in my research that so many aspects of our culture set new families up for failure, that there’s a huge information gap between therapy and birth professionals, and therefore such a massive gap between expectation and reality for parents. I’ll be starting my regular blog soon, one for professionals to cross-pollinate their expertise and one for parents so they get the benefits of that. I’d like to do what I can to help cross the divide.

How do you best balance personal and professional in your online activities? Please give examples.

I have two FB accounts, one in my professional name and one in my married name, which is private. I don’t share family stuff on my professional page, although I know many who do and I’m probably being over-cautious. I do share some stories from my own life my talk for the Parenting 2.0 conference in Dublin is a good example!), but I check with my hubby that he’s OK with that beforehand…or maybe just afterwards!

What is some tangible evidence that your online presence has grown your business?

All my speaking invitations in the US and UK have come through social media contacts. My Facebook friends were also the ones who encouraged me to develop trainings based on the content in my book. I’ll be rolling out Becoming Us webinar trainings next year so that birth, health and therapy professionals have ideas, direction, and support to work with the expecting and new parents in their care.

What other ways has your strong online presence helped you?

Oh gosh, in lots of ways! If I have an idea I’m not sure about (logo, tag lines, etc), I’ll run it by my online friends. I’ve asked for feedback on my book and website and taken it all on board so when I finally launch my webinar series early next year, it’s been given a really thorough test run first.

A lovely birth professional friend referred to me as a “Parenthood Tour Guide” the other day, and then another one said she thought of me as “The Family Whisperer." I was so touched and thrilled! I love the support and validation I receive through Facebook groups; so many wonderful, engaged, enlightened souls who are all there to lift and help each other. I remember in the years before I got on social media, I was often lacking the support and collaboration I needed to get my work off the ground. I teared up just yesterday when a FB friend offered to be an administrator for a FB group I’m starting up next year and another offered to do a video testimonial for my book.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered creating and maintaining your online presence?

Trying not to get sucked into the Facebook vortex and get other stuff done, like actually develop the content! I get so carried away by seeing everyone's pictures and news and cute videos. I made the mistake of announced the Becoming Us training courses just the other day at the same time I was supposed to be picking up my daughter from school.

How have you overcome those challenges?

I keep telling myself I’m going to get an egg timer…

What tips or resources can you recommend to help therapists who are new to the online world of blogging, social media, SEO, etc.?

Start slowly, observe at first to see what others are doing while you get your bearings, take your time, and build your confidence. See what ignites your passion – that’s where your best writing will come from. See where the gaps are. When I first got on FB and joined a bunch of birth professional groups, I noticed that fathers (and partners) were often left out of the conversations completely. I feel strongly that from an adult attachment perspective, including and supporting dads/partners during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood has major long-term benefits for the whole family. That's where I began my journey, and it was worked out well so far!


Elly Taylor, AARC

Australian Relationship Counsellor, Parenthood Researcher Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/BecomingUs Website: www.ellytaylor.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ellytaylor

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5 Common Barriers to Building a Fee-For-Service Practice

Building a fee-for-service practice can be scary, especially if it means resigning from insurance panels and finding other ways to attract clients. Others may have already made the switch, but don't know how to successfully navigate the change. I have found some strategies to help ease the transition. Here are 5 common barriers to building a fee-for-service practice and ways to overcome them: 1) "I'm uncomfortable marketing myself"

I often hear therapists say that marketing themselves feels like bragging or tooting their own horn by self-promoting. In order to move past this barrier, it's helpful to reframe the way you think about marketing. Consider it instead as REST: Relationships, Educating, Serving, and Trust Building. You are building relationships with potential clients who might see your website or other media, you're serving your community by educating them about important topics related to your niche, and you're establishing rapport and building trust with those who encounter you through your (online) content (REST is essentially why you're in the profession in the first place, right?). If you can focus on these 4 things, you can (and will!) attract clients who will pay your full fee. While your "marketing" strategy (I'm not a fan of that word, by the way) REST strategy is meant to benefit you by helping your community become familiar with you and your services, it's really about those who you can potentially help through receiving services through your practice. Don't be shy in getting the word out about yourself; it's a way for you to use your professional skills to serve and educate your community.

2) "I'm afraid of the ethical issues surrounding social media"

Those new to the world of social media may be wary to fully embrace it because of the potential ethical problems that may arise. Potential for unethical dual relationships, confidentiality concerns, and lack of knowledge are common fears. But these fears (and others) can be overcome: having an official social media policy included with your intake packet, avoiding directly soliciting your additional products or services to existing clients, being familiar with privacy settings online, and overall just using your ethics training and common sense will help you be prepared to face these potential issues.

Click here to read a more comprehensive article about overcoming fears associated with social media.

3) "I'm not good with technology"

The internet gives us incredible opportunities to communicate and reach an audience that is unprecedented in size. However, for those unfamiliar with all the ins and outs, it can also be intimidating, overwhelming, and frustrating to start. Mari A. Lee, an LMFT who specializes in sex addiction recovery, understands this feeling all too well. She describes being scared and resistant to learning new technologies. But she was able to overcome her "technophobia" by starting with manageable goals, finding a patient and persistent mentor, asking lots of questions, and setting aside time to devote to learning and practicing new tech skills. Her success in building an online presence paid off big time; she's currently a best-selling author! "If I can figure out how to blog, attend and facilitate webinars, host online trainings, navigate my Facebook business page, and so forth, anyone can... If this 52 year-old former tech scaredy cat can do it, so can you!" Mari explains (read more about her experience here). 

Understanding and applying the language of technology does not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself, as there's certainly some trial-and error learning here. Remember that everyone starts somewhere. And just like Mari, look for a mentor to guide you and bounce ideas and questions off of. You've proven yourself to be an apt and competent learner by becoming a licensed therapist; have the courage to learn another skill set as well.

4) "I can't do media appearances or speaking engagements because I hate seeing and hearing myself"

Therapists tend to get shy about media interviews. It's one thing to sit in front of a client and offer counsel in a one-on-one session, but speaking in front of large audiences can bring out anxiety in even the most confident clinicians. But remember how much you know; you are a trained and experienced expert. The aesthetic and "performance" aspect of media appearances will come with time. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable and relaxed you'll be. And if by chance you do feel like you bombed a television interview or radio podcast, learn from it and try to move on. It's not the end of the world if you make a mistake!

Read here for more tips on how to look good and sound professional in your media appearance.

5) "If I'm a great clinician, my work will speak for itself"

Some therapists plan to rely on their hard-earned reputation as an excellent mental health professional to be their main source of client referral. They then focus solely on refining their clinical skills, as they don't see the need to engage with their community beyond private sessions. While referrals can be an effective strategy to build your clientele, depending on others in the field to refer to you should not be the only way you attract people to your services. The harsh truth is that there are a lot of excellent therapists who fail in developing a successful private practice. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it takes time and experience to gain a loyal following and individuals who actively seek you out.

You may find that by being persistent in building trust in you and your services over time will be the major benefit to the growth of your practice. Because we have worked hard to establish ourselves as trusted professionals by embracing social media and building our online presence, my practice, Wasatch Family Therapy, receives most of our referrals from Google searches. This is something I feel very grateful for, and it's largely due to the fact that I stopped participating on managed care panels and consequently had to work within the community to build trust directly with potential clients.

Embracing a private pay practice model brings more than a few questions, unknowns, and worries. But by using these strategies, you can overcome barriers and build a thriving practice.

Besides the obstacles presented in this article, another major reason why clinicians may be wary of switching to private pay involves how they think their clients will be affected. I address (and debunk!) these fears here.

Click here to view my webinar and learn more strategies and tips about breaking up with managed care!

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