Content Creation

4 Ways to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

4 ways to make your website mobile friendly - Private Practice Toolbox

More and more people are using their phones to search the internet.  By optimizing your online content for mobile devices, your clients can more efficiently access the information and services your therapy practice provides.  

It has been said that 2014 is the year of the mobile.  People are increasingly accessing online material from their phone, so it’s important that providers are aware that their content is being viewed through multiple channels.  But there are unique challenges that come along with this trend:  a website or blog can appear dramatically different on an iPhone or Android than on a computer screen.  Different features can get warped or skewed on a mobile device.  Thankfully, there are ways to make online content more efficient and accessible for cell-phone users.

Here are 4 ways to optimize your website and online content for mobile devices:

1)  Make a Separate Mobile Site

If you own a smartphone, you are probably familiar with how certain sites offer a version specific for phones.  For example, Facebook has a separate application (a cell-phone app) for mobile users.  It has slight modifications to make it easier to use than the normal site would be from such a small screen, but the general capability is still there.  Creating a separate mobile site will certainly require some tech-savvy skills, so as your therapy practice develops, you may want to consider hiring a web-developer to help you navigate some of the trickier aspects of web design.

2)  Simplify

The mobile version of your site should be very, very simple.  Clean, white space will help viewers not get overwhelmed by too many features.  Not everyone on the main version of your site should be displayed for cell phones users.  Using drop-down menus can help eliminate unnecessary distractions.

3)  Emphasize Prominent Information

Once you’ve decided what to cut out, you need to decide what elements of your original site to keep for your mobile site.  The name of your therapy practice, contact information, and a photo or logo should be very clearly displayed.  If someone has to hunt to find key information, he/she will likely exit your site very soon.  Emphasize your most important message in a clear and concise way.

4)  Provide Links to the Full Site

Although someone may first come across your online content while using a phone, users are more likely to fully interact and take advantage of services through the original site.  Remember that the mobile version is meant to serve as a mini format of your main website or blog.  The full site is the main attraction and ultimately where you want your viewers to go. Make sure to provide a link to redirect viewers to your full site.  

Do you have a mobile version of your website or blog?

How can you use these tips to make your online content more accessible for mobile users?

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1)  Photo (c) Canstock Photo ID:  13124395

2)  "9 Tips for Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users"


4 Ways to Build a Thriving Practice in an Uncertain Economy

canstockphoto9071108Since the economic downturn of 2008, my practice has experienced significant growth. I attribute that growth to these four strategies.

Our economy took a turn for the worse in 2008, stock market crashed, and many companies were forced to downsize.  It was a hard time for many Americans, financially and emotionally. And yet, during this same time frame, my practice Wasatch Family Therapy experienced exponential growth. We steadily acquired new clients. opened two additional locations and grew from half a dozen therapists to over 20 therapists.

So how did I do it?  I put time and energy into creating and maintaining a strong online presence.

1) I used a website as a way to introduce myself and to serve my community

As an early technology adopter, I had a website (or webpage) in the early 2000's. As social networking expanded in the mid-2000's I saw the incredible possibilities for reaching out directly to potential clients. My website not only acts as an introduction to my clinic and my therapists, but also allows us to serve and educate through videos and articles about important issues related to mental and emotional health and well-being.

2) I used social media to have meaningful conversations with people

Social media has played an invaluable role in acquiring and retaining clients. I estimate that we gain about 80% of new customers through Google and the internet.  The importance of having an online presence cannot be overstated.  It changed my business forever, and Wasatch Family Therapy continues to thrive to this day. Here's a rough time frame of my social networking journey:

  • 2002 Started solo private practice Wasatch Family Therapy
  • 2004 Webpage
  • 2008 Joined Facebook
  • 2009 Joined Twitter
  • 2009 Started blogging on practice website
  • 2009 Employed 4-5 therapists
  • 2009 Joined LinkedIn
  • 2010 Started YouTube Channel
  • 2011-12 Joined Instagram, Pinterest
  • 2013 Joined Google+
  • 2014 Currently employ 20+ therapists with 3 locations

3) I created consistent and meaningful content on reputable websites

I  caught the vision of providing quality content to educate and serve the public.  My professional Facebook presence, blog, and other media projects were ways for us to get my name out there, establish trust and reliability, and connect with readers and potential clients. I started blogging for PsychCentral's Ask the Therapist in 2009, Private Practice Toolbox blog in 2011, Sharecare and Daily Strength in 2012, and became the Answers relationship expert blogger in 2013.

4) I sought out media interviews and learned to leverage them

Once I started creating content on larger websites, I started seeking local and national media interviews. As a result of my blogging and media interviews established news and lifestyle websites began quoting me and linking to my website.  This led to even more traffic (readers coming to our site), which in turn meant building trust with more people. It’s been very encouraging to see the fruits of my labor pay off in the growth of my clinic, and the ability to employ amazing therapists.

Never before have therapists been able to serve potential clients before ever meeting them and to educate our community without leaving the house. Through developing your strong online presence through an effective website, an engaged social media following, creating helpful content, and seeking media interviews, you can maintain viability and keep your practice strong, even when the economic climate is less than favorable.

What strategies have you used to survive and thrive in an uncertain economy? Please share your thoughts below!

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How to Build Trust with a Client Before the First Session

therapist relationshipA strong online presence helps potentials clients trust you and choose you when they are ready for therapy. Clients sometimes have a hard time trusting a new therapist.  It’s understandable: who feels comfortable telling their innermost problems to a complete stranger?  But trust is a critical part of the client/ therapist relationship if any real progress is to be made.  Thankfully, there are ways to build trust before your client even walks in the door.

The best way to help your clients feel comfortable with you even before your first session is to establish yourself through your online presence.  Think of your website as your welcome sign.  This is a gateway for your potential customer to get to know you and understand what your practice is all about.  Your social media and web presence should display your professional accolades, but also should showcase you as a real, authenticate person.

Online Presence Builds Trust

There are multiple ways for readers to come across your material and get a sense of you who are.  Maybe a friend retweeted something of yours.  Maybe they saw a media interview you did or read a recent blog article on your private practice website.  Or maybe they found you organically through a Google search. Either way, you can make a significant impression by your online content.  Hopefully, readers will feel a connection to something you’ve written or said that will cause them to seek you out more.  In this way, they are learning to trust your opinion both as a professional and also as a person.

If and when someone does seek out your professional services, they feel more comfortable since they already know a good deal about you philosophy and therapy style.  This means you almost get to skip a step in therapy: the individual has already been introduced to you and likes you enough to have personally chosen you as his or her therapist.

Building Trust Takes Time

Creating a strong online presence to build trust with your clientele is a long-term strategy.  It won’t happen overnight.  You need to continually put work into creating content for your social media platforms, engage in the professional conversation, publish guest posts, etc. to build up that reputation.  I once had a customer who had heard me speak nine months earlier before she was ready to call and make an appointment.  It takes multiple exposure before someone decides to become a paying customer.

A relationship with a professional counselor is one of the most intimate relationships a person can have. An individual is very vulnerable as he/she shares deep struggles, insecurities, and pain.  Building trust and confidence is a critical part of therapy, and thankfully social media can facilitate the process.  Creating and maintaining a strong online presence can greatly contribute to your reputation as a credible professional and trustworthy confidant.

How do you build trust with potential (and existing) clients through your online presence?

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4 Ways to Repurpose Existing Content for Blog Posts

Repurpose content for blog postYou already have content for hundreds of blog posts. You just don't recognize it yet. Therapists who are new to blogging sometimes have a difficult time finding material to write about.  So where to begin?  Actually, it’s much easier than you might expect.

An excellent strategy to finding material to write about is to simply repurpose and repackage existing content. That means that you remake something that’s already been created, either by you or someone else.  This of course does NOT mean that you simply regurgitate what has already been written, but instead you thoughtfully craft existing material to serve a new purpose and audience.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, here!

So let’s about specific ways to repurpose existing content for your blog posts.

1) Transform Your Existing Content

One of the most effective ways (and easiest, too!) to find something to blog about is to use content that you yourself have already created.  For me, I look to podcasts or webinars I’ve done, articles I’ve published, or other media projects I’ve been involved with as inspiration for my blog.  Sometimes I take just a sentence or two from one of these things and elaborate on it for a blog post.  To give an example, I often say that “Conversational is the new professional” to describe how therapists can use social media to interact with clients.  This phrase alone could spark a great blog post about new methods of communication between professionals and customers.  So look back on content you’ve created to find something great to write about.  Easy as pie!

2) What Other Experts Say

If you haven’t yet landed those media interviews, published articles, or speaking engagements, don’t worry!  You still have a lot of topics to write about.  As a professional of any kind knows, it’s critical to continue to read and study about one’s field to stay current and relevant concerning best practices.  Consider that new and interesting research findings can become fodder for a blog post. Summarize the findings, add your perspective on the topic, link to the research article, and voila!

Additionally, consider embedding a YouTube video from another professional that is relevant to your idea client's needs. Write a couple of paragraphs about why this video speaks to you or how it applies to your ideal client. Remember to link to the original video and the expert's website.

3) Notice Trends in Your Practice

Also, don’t overlook the specific issues you see as a therapist.  Reflect on trends you observe in your practice and use those for content for your blog.  For example, maybe you’ve noticed that many of your recent clients struggle with communicating with their spouses about finances.  Draw upon your professional expertise (and possibly do a bit of research as well) to provide advice related to those situations.  And there you have another great blog post.

4) Community Talks & Presentations

I recently spoke to a group of mental health professionals on building an online presence. I asked them how many of them had Powerpoint presentations they have used for community events or school projects. All of the participants raised their hands. Take your community presentation content and divide it up into smaller sections for blog posts or blog post series. For example, say you have a presentation on warning signs that goes through the diagnostic criteria for common mental health disorders: mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. You could take each of the larger categories and use those for a blog post series such as the following:

Mood Disorders 101: Warning signs to watch for (1 of 5)

Mood Disorders: What's the difference between mild and major depression? (2 of 5)

Mood Disorders: When a loved one threatens suicidal (3 of 5)...You get the idea.

Another way to use community presentations as blog content is to audio or video record your presentations. You can easily edit your audio or video and post sections of it as mp3 or video on your professional blog.

Once you get going on your professional blog, you’ll likely find that you have an abundance of material to write about. Take something already created, put an original twist on it, and then make it your own.  So get to thinking about something you’ve written, read, or seen in your practice, and then write a rocking post about it!

I'd love to hear your ideas for repurposing existing content. Please share your ideas and creative ideas in the comments below.

Therapist Blog Challenge #2: Pick An Inspirational Quote

Blog about your favorite quote and how it can inspire your readers to do something differently.

Thanks for the great response to therapist blog challenge #1! I'm impressed by your creativity and inventiveness. If you're just joining us for the blog challenge, please continue to post your challenge #1 posts and jump in on this new challenge #2

This one will be easy and fun. Pick your favorite quote and let it be the inpsiration for your next blog post. I've posted a handful of my favorite quotes for you to use if you'd like. You are welcome to use the graphics below in your blog posts too. I created these cool, shareable graphics with the iPhone app InstaQuote (my favorite new app). OK, that's it for challenge #2. Get blogging!

Additional reminders:

  • Write and post your blog article in the next 2 weeks. If you miss the deadline or you read this article months later, that's OK too.
  • Post a link for this blog challenge in the comment section of this blog post.
  • Read, comment, and share other therapist's articles.
  • Tweet your post using hashtag #therapistblog and tag @julie_hanks so I can retweet it.
  • Pin it on the challenge Pinterest Board. I've invited everyone who posted a comment on the initial blog challenge post as collaborators so you can pin onto the group board.
  • Spread the word and invite mental health colleagues to join the challenge. Articles can be added anytime throughout the year.
  • Write no more than 600 words, make it easy to read, use a conversational tone, and gear your articles toward your ideal client (not other professionals).
  • The goal of a professional blog is to provide value your website visitors, help them get to know your professional perspective,  increase traffic to your private practice website, and build your practice.