A Day in the Life: Meet Psychologist Laura Louis, Ph.D.

Screen shot 2014-12-13 at 2.56.12 PMDr. Laura Louis has worked in the field of psychology for over ten years. Her specialities includes multicultural counseling and helping couples rebuild trust and intimacy after infidelity. Using her professional expertise and experience, she authored a book entitled Marital Peace: 10 Things You Can Do To Divorce Proof Your Marriage. Beyond her clinical career, Louis has provided consultation to different organizations and agencies to improve their productivity and efficiency through increased communication skills. She has worked in a variety of settings, including schools, court systems, domestic violence shelters, and psychiatric hospitals.

Peek into a day in her life as a psychologist here:

A Day in the Life

December 8, 2014

7:30AM -8AM

Woke up, got dressed, and checked my email.

8AM -10AM

Went to Stone Mountain for my weekly hike. This is what gets my creative juices flowing.


Prepped for my speaking engagement on helping couples heal from past infidelity. My 3 city tour is coming up next week, and I can't wait. YAY! I love to travel and meet new people.


Put the finishing touches on my upcoming webinar about infidelity. I'm excited about reaching a broader audience, but also a bit nervous. Hope it goes well.


Wrote psychological reports while eating lunch (Thought- I need to hire a psychometrist; time to build that team).


Saw 5 clients (one each hour). That's my limit. Anymore, and I start to question my effectiveness.


Headed home. Listened to a few business podcasts on the way from my private practice.


Made it home and kissed husband. Aww, I missed him.


Ate dinner. Since my husband works from home, he made dinner. Yay:) Cuddled together while watching Law and Order. Checked email.

10PM- 11PM

Read Bible and took a shower.


Went to sleep.

To learn more about Dr. Laura, visit

If you'd like to submit a day in your life for this series, please contact me here.

The 3-Letter Word That Gets More Clients

(c) Can Stock Photo

A simple practice-building skill that many private practice therapists overlook is to ASK directly for new clients referrals. Some shrinks assume that if they're skilled clinically colleagues, clients, and acquaintances will automatically refer clients to them. While that may be true for some therapists, in my consulting experience, building a thriving private practice takes conscious effort and deliberate action.

Asking for referrals is important so you are on the "top of mind" for your referrals sources. Potential referral sources may assume that you're too busy, that you're not taking new clients, they don't remember your name or contact information, or it just didn't occur to them to refer a client to you.

Here are a few ways you can ask for referrals when you need to fill some of your appointment slots without seeming desperate.

1) Send A Note Or Email

Get some nice note cards and periodically send a personal note to referral sources. Let them know that you'd love to work with their clients, that you have openings, and include some business cards.

Shoot off an email to referral sources who've sent clients your way in the past. Make sure that you include all of your contact information in the email to make it easy for someone to contact you. Here's an example of what I have said in an email to a relationship coach.

Dear __________,

I hope all is well with you. I hear great things about your coaching practice and have sent a few clients to your marriage classes. I wanted to let you know that I currently have a few openings for individual or couples clients who need some help with with deeper issues that may need to be addressed in therapy. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you want to discuss how I can help any of your coaching clients who are "stuck."



(detailed contact info here, including website, phone, etc.)

2) Ask Over Lunch

Invite a referral source to lunch on you and ask for referrals then. Everyone needs to eat. I've found that people, especially professionals, are more likely to meet with you if you feed them. When you meet, remember to bring something to the table (no pun intended) to offer to them.

Consider ways that you can spread the word about their practice or business, offer a free training to their staff on your area of expertise, or make yourself available for free consultations or coaching on mental health issues.

3) Ask For Referrals In Casual Conversation

Number of client hours can vary greatly in private practice. There is an art to keeping consistent direct care numbers.  If your client numbers are down, don't be afraid to mention your openings in casual conversations with colleagues, doctors, friends, and other associates that you have openings in your practice. It's your job to remind people that you are in private practice and that you'd appreciate more business.

How comfortable are you asking for new referrals from colleagues, associates, professionals, and friends?


Therapist Roll Call: Join The Private Practice Twitter List

I recently blogged about ways to use Twitter to build your private practice, and encouraged you to tweet your elevator speech/basic practice message in 140 characters or less. Those posts got me wondering, "How many therapists in private practice are actively using Twitter?" So, I'm taking a roll call to help you use Twitter to connect with other like-minded therapists around the world to share ideas, resources, and referrals. Only licensed mental health therapists will be listed.

Here's what I'd like you to do...

Post a comment below and include:

  1. twitter handle & link
  2. your city and state
  3. specialty area

As the comments come in I'll post comments and paste your info in the body of this post below.

Therapists on Twitter

@julie_hanks Salt Lake City, UT: women's emotional health, EFT couples, family therapy, private practice consulting, media

@soultenders1 Arcadia, CA: marriage/couples, domestic violence, anger management, parenting

@soulhealr Studio City, CA: trauma, abuse, grief, loss, anxiety, stress, yoga therapy, teens and adults

@drtrentevans Baltimore, MD: anxiety, depression, anger management, bariatric surgery, cognitive/mindfulness

@metrocounsellor Perth Western Australia, Mount Lawley and Duncraig: Family,couples, teenagers, children and relationship counselling

@Grevgatan24 Stockholm, Sweden:, 6 psychotherapists, PDT, CBT, Affective Shortterm, individual/couples, systemic, crises/trauma

@juliejeske Portland, OR: relationships, intimacy and sexuality

@DrMarsha Washington DC: neuropsychology, and mindfulness

@LisaKiftTherapy Larkspur, Marin County, CA: Individual (family of origin, emotional health) and Couples (communication, infidelity, premarital education)

@JoelCarnazzo CBT, Motivational Interviewing, Family Systems Therapies, depressive disorders, anxiety and panic, & substance abuse

@SentierTherapy Couples & Family therapy, teens/adolescents, parent consultations, sexual abuse/assault

@Mindful4Health Milton, Ontario: depression, anxiety, stress, major life changes, chronic illness, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

@jeffbrandler Mountain Lakes, NJ: addiction, couples, anxiety, mood disorders

@daryljo Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies: EAPs, Adults, Teens, Couples Counselling

@aposterioris Manhattan, NY: helping children and adults, as a disabled person I can also help those w/ disabilities

@emmakviglucci NYC: Self and Relationship Expert pre-marital, codependence and being stuck, infidelity

@DrRanjanPatel Burlingame, CA: Couples counseling, depression/anxiety, chronic illness/pain, grief/loss, mindfulness training

@DrTanyaHilber San Diego, CA: life balance, middle-aged women, children/teens with ADHD or Autism/Asperger’s spectrum

@pnetworker Psychotherapy Networker: Learning, Connection, Community for Psychotherapists Year-Round

@brucenystrom evaluation/therapy clinical, forensic, disability, ADHD, medical compliance, law enforcement, critical incident stress management

@marianneclyde Warrenton, VA: relationship issues, anxiety/depression, eating disorders, stress, trauma, Holistic approach

@geoffsteurer St. George, UT: pornography and sexual addiction recovery, affairs, marriage counseling, men's issues

@rhetter Plano, TX: Marriage and Family, latent adolescent/emerging adulthood, adolescent boys, spiritual issues

@drkkolmes San Francisco, CA: Anxiety, depression, relationships, sexual problems, working with LGBTQ, poly, kink

@TherapyWithJen Salt Lake City, UT:  Marriage and Family, anxiety, depression, parenting, communication skills, trust, LDS-based therapy

@cesargamez Phoenix, AZ: Eating disorders, Marriage/Family, Teens/Adults, Group Therapy

@johnleemsw Chattanooga, TN: individual & family therapist, children and adolescents, emotional intelligence

@josephab100 Mechanicsburg, PA: Online Relationship advice; online life and business coach.

@njpsychotherapy & @debrafeinberg Maplewood, NJ: Relationships, anxiety, gay & lesbian issues, multicultural issues, Internet Marketing consultant for therapists

@JaniceMaddoxMFT Reno, Nevada: couples and family counseling, individuals w/ anxiety, depression and adoption related issues

@Betrayalcoach, marriage and relationship counseling, psychotherapy for intimacy, trust,conflict, and issues of infidelity

@luciacassar Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Teenagers, adults and elderly

@kamahiner Private Practice in Boise, ID: Individuals & Couples- Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Sexual Issues/Addictions, Autism/Behavioral Consultations

@crutherfordphd psychological and neuropsychological assessement, test report writing software

@bbhabash Gaithersburg, MD: Individual & Family Therapy for children 3-12yrs, Child-Centered Play Therapy, Parents, Teens & Young Adults with various mental health disorders/life transitions

@pamdysonmalpc St. Louis, MO: Parent coaching, play therapy for children 3-12 years of age

@drkipmatthews Athens, GA: Sport and Performance Psychology, Consulting, Career & Life Planning, Mind-Body Health

@InfertilityMind @psych0synthesis Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia: eating disorders and addiction, infertility and alternative parenting paths, anxiety and depression, life crisis and relationships

@KatMindenhall Lakewood, CO: CBT, SFBT – Parenting, depression, couple/family

@BCordermanMFT Brea, Orange County, CA: Empowering teen girls and women; pre-marital & couples counseling; family of origin work; co-dependency; trauma

@taoi_uk Merseyside, United Kingdom: A psychosexual and relationship therapist working with all kinds of sexual and relationship issues

@stlcounselor  Webster Groves, Mo: Marriage child and Family, couples counseling. expert child and teen counseling

@drjlgibson, Holland, Michigan psychologist specializing in adult psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, and relationship concerns.

@onlinecounselor London, UK: Accredited Psychological Therapist providing Online Counselling, Telephone Counselling & Face to Face Therapy.

@JasonEsswein I specialize in individual psychotherapy with men.

@fystherapy Kim McLaughlin, LMFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Roseville, CA: specializing in therapy and counseling for compulsive and binge eating disorders.

@DrReginaMendoza Licensed Psychologist in Miami, Florida. Psychological testing and individual therapy for children, adolescents, and adults.

@GregDorter Toronto, ON. Therapist specializing in helping people overcome depression, anxiety, stress & low self-esteem through CBT and mindfulness.

@DrCunninghamMFT  San Diego, CA, Family Systems expert specializing in couples and individuals challenged by relationship issues.

(I'll add your Twitter info here...)

Getting 3 'Fs' In Private Practice Is A Good Thing!

letter FMy motivation for starting my private practice, Wasatch Family Therapy, was very clear. I wanted to create my ideal work environment and I knew that no one else could do that for me. I felt called to help people heal themselves and their relationships.  I knew that I wanted work with therapy clients who valued my services and time, and who were dedicated to working hard to improve their life. I wanted the flexibility to set my own schedule and take time off to be with my children and attend school and sporting events. I wanted to do paperwork that was relevant and helpful for treatment. I wanted to invite other clinicians into my professional space who were gifted therapists, genuine people, and who I enjoyed spending time with. I wanted to work as a social worker part-time and make a full-time income (a lofty goal in a profession where many work full-time and make a part-time income).

I know why I chose to go into private practice but I was curious if other therapists and counselors around the country had similar motivation opening private practice. I recently asked several therapists about their reasons for taking the leap into the business world of owning their own practices and noticed three common themes emerged. I call them the 3 "F"s of private practice: flexibility, freedom, financial opportunity.

1) Flexibility

Therapists who take the leap into private practice value flexibility in their work schedule to better balance work and family life, and to pursue other interests.  Dr. Mary Sidhwani, a psychotherapist in private practice since 2000 in Ellicott City, Maryland opened her practice so she could have the flexibility to care for her two young children. "I wanted to be able to balance both my professional and family life; to be able to spend as much time with my children as possible while they were young."  Social worker Diane Spear, LCSW-R of New York City said, "I had worked at an agency with wonderful colleagues, but private practice gave me the opportunity to set my own hours and fees."

Of his decision to open his own practice psychologist Dr. John Duffy says, "I wanted to go into private practice as I wanted control over my career: my schedule, niche, fees, client base, whether I accepted insurance, and so on. I also wanted to be able to write, consult, speak, and expand my practice, or take fewer clients, as I went along."

2) Freedom

Freedom to select a particular client population to work with and choose your own approach to treatment has drawn many therapists to open a practice. After agency work left her overworked, underpaid and burned out, Esther Kane, MSW of British Columbia chose to open a private practice because it allowed her to focus on her passion - women's issues. Kane says she loves the "autonomy and flexibility of not having to answer to anyone."

Spear says she appreciated being able to choose who she worked with and how she approached treatment. "I wanted to choose level of pathology I want to treat, choose the theoretical orientation and supervisor I'm most comfortable with, and set the environment as I prefer. In short, autonomy, autonomy, autonomy!"

3) Financial Opportunity

It's a risk to open your own practice, but when it grows, you are the one who benefits most from the financial growth. Private practitioners have the opportunity to grow their income in ways that are unlikely to happen when you work for someone else. New York City therapist Emma K. Viglucci, CFT, LMFT, CIT experienced the growth potential first-hand. Since opening Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC she says, "I've grown the practice to the point where I had 10 clinicians working with me as part of our clinical team. My practice has become an Internship Placement Site for MFTs in training."

Financial need helped Lisa Gomez MA, PLC of Surprise, AZ transition from part-time to full-time private practice. After being laid off from a full-time staff position due to budget cuts Gomez says it was "the perfect opportunity to take the step of faith into full-time private practice. I love private practice because I can be as successful as I want or as flexible as I want."

What motivated you to start your private practice?

If you're thinking about venturing into private practice, what do you hope to gain?


Creative Commons License photo credit: Leo Reynolds

5 Free Ways to Market Your Therapy Practice

Didi - RadioThanks to technology, there are many free ways to effectively market your private therapy practice. Since these free strategies do take time to implement, I suggest focusing on the ones that sound interesting, fun, fulfilling, and a little challenging so you get something back personally from your time investment. It can take some time until you actually see the benefits of your marketing in terms of clients coming to your practice. Part of effective marketing is simply raising awareness of your practice and your specialties, which will bring in clients over time.

After nearly 10 years in private practice, I've found that the most effective strategies for building your practice use what we already know as therapists about building relationships: building rapport, using your authentic self, starting where the "client" is, to name a few, and translating those skills into a new formats that reaches larger audiences.

Here are 5 ways to draw clients to your therapy practice:

1) Speak to your ideal clients

Once you've identified who you'd like to see in your private practice, ask yourself, "Where are my ideal clients gathering?" or "Where are groups who work with my ideal clients already gathering?" If your ideal clients are families with a young children with behavior problems, then you may want to focus on speaking to groups of parents or teachers in the schools, for example.  Or if you're wanting to focus on working with couples in crisis, then speaking to clergy who regularly meet with distressed couples, or speaking to local religious groups on marriage issues might be something to consider.

2) Blog on your niche

If you have a blog on your website, write weekly articles that speak to your ideals clients. Blog posts are generally 300-500 words, so keep it simple. Blogging once a week is enough to keep it fresh. If you don't have a website, or don't have a blog on your website, I suggest that you look into it. Blogs allow tagging and categories which make it search engine friendly to people who are searching for the information you're offering. Here's an example of blog integrated into a therapist site from my own private practice.

3) Target local social media

Social media is global but your practice is local. Talk with other local businesses and therapists on Twitter and Facebook by using the search boxes to find other pages in your city. For example, if your specialty is working with adults living with chronic pain or illness you may want to follow on Twitter or "like" the Facebook pages of local hospitals, newspapers, rehabilitation centers, chiropractors, and other related businesses and services.  The goal of social media is to communicate and interact, not just to inform, so share other local resources on your social media pages. Tag them on Facebook posts or mention them on Twitter status updates. Reciprocity is the key to effectively using social media to build your therapy practice.

4) Interview on local radio

Did you know that radio stations provide a certain number of public service hours each week?  Producers are often looking for helpful topics and interesting people to interview that will benefit their listeners. Call or email the top local radio stations in your area, ask for the producer of their public service show, and offer a couple of topics that are related to your basic message.

5) Write for local newspaper or magazine articles

Which magazines or newspapers are your potential clients reading on a regular basis? Do some research on the demographic of the periodical and contact the editor to offer your writing services. Always lead with information on how your article/column/expertise will serve their readers, not how you hope to get hundreds of clients by writing for them.  Since most news outlets and local magazines have websites, offering to blog for their site is a great idea, too. Fresh content is a valuable asset to websites so pitch with passion your area of expertise as a blog.

I'd love to hear back from you on how you implement any of these free marketing ideas. Please comment below and feel free to post links of your blog, news interviews, articles, etc. that might spring from reading this post.

Creative Commons License photo credit: orensbruli (Esteban Martinena)