Adventures In Private Practice: Trauma Specialist Leticia Reed, LCSW

Less than one year ago Leticia Reed, LCSW opened her private practice in Long Beach, CA. Find out what resources and tools have helped Ms. Reed muster the courage to open her own practice, what she's learned from clients, and how she manages her roles as "therapist" and "business owner".

Tell me about your private practice...

I opened Reed Behavioral Solution in March of 2012. My practice mission is: "Helping individuals, couples and families achieve hope, healing, wellness and freedom. Empowering my clients to leave better than they arrived is what drives me to provide the best and most effective services. I specialize in women's empowerment and trauma, although I provide a wide range of services to other populations in my practice. I also offer Christian counseling for those seeking spiritual connectedness as a means of coping and regaining a sense of purpose and hope.

Why did you decide to open a private practice?

I began my practice after leaving employment with the County of Los Angeles and feeling like individuals were being failed by the system as they were only treated as a number that became lost in a revolving door. I felt like opening my practice provided me with an opportunity to make a significant impact, one with real rehabilitation and healing.

Clients that therapists find to be the most “difficult” are sometimes the ones who can teach them the most. What have you learned from your toughest clients?

I agree that "difficult" clients provide the most meaningful learning experiences. Through my more challenging cases, I have learned the importance of patience, tolerance, unconditional positive regard as well as the real importance of "starting where the client is" to guide them towards healing. The technique- Motivational interviewing has been the principle that I have incorporated to achieve this while increasing motivation.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about private practice?

One of my biggest pet peeve would be the amount of documentation required as it takes away from my time spent in direct contact with my clients. However, it's necessary as it also provides me with a blueprint and framework that guides my treatment and goals.

How did you discover or develop your practice “niche”?

My niche sort of evolved as the majority of my clientele seeking services has been women with self-esteem and trauma related issues.

What resource (book, website, person) helped you the most when setting up your private practice?

The various resources that have aided me in starting my private practice has been the following: Nakeya Fields of Fields Family Counseling who offers a workshop geared towards assisting individuals starts their private practice, while providing lifelong networking and consultation with other group members. I also used and received a wealth of information from Ofer Zur Institute Practice Handbook for HIPAA friendly forms and regulations. My mentor Cynthia G. Langely, my prior clinical supervisor who has many years in the field serving in various positions, including on the CA BBS panel when the Oral examinations were required, has continued to provide me with a wealth of information and support. Lastly, The various Facebook groups I am currently in, including Julie Hanks’s Private Practice Facebook group have also increased my knowledge that has been instrumental in keeping me current in the field.

What has surprised you most about being in private practice?

The things that have surprised me the most about building a private practice has to be the amount of work it takes to stay afloat and monetary resources needed to build and maintain operation. Another surprise has to do with the number of people hurting and in search of HOPE, some of which are fellow colleagues.

Has your private practice helped you grow professionally?

My private has influenced my growth professionally in the sense that it has taught me the importance of being organized, detailed oriented, punctual, and the importance of networking/collaboration.

Has it helped you grow personally, too?

On a personal level it has made me to be more grateful and attuned to the world and my purpose in it, helping me to not take anything for granted.

Being a therapist can be emotionally exhausting. What do you do to care for your own emotional and psychological health?  

Self-care is extremely important to me. I love pampering myself, traveling and engaging in church activities, reading my bible and praying. I also make it a point to surround myself with positive people that are encouraging and uplifting.

How do you cope with the inevitable stressors involved with being your own boss?

I cope with the stressors of being my own boss by consulting with colleagues in practice and digging my heels in the sand and "just doing it". My tenacious spirit and optimistic personality as well as my strong Faith in God has assisted me in my success in this short amount of time I have been practice. Colleagues that know when I began have commented on my rapid success. I am a very blessed woman and I am looking forward to even more expansion in 2013 and beyond.

Find out more about Leticia Reed's private practice at

Can I Feature Your Private Practice? Content Creation Opportunities on Toolbox

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Talk to thousands about your practice by submitting content for Private Practice Toolbox.

I've written a lot about the importance of content creation in building a professional online presence, creating value for website visitors and social media followers, and establishing yourself as an expert in your specialty area.

Incoming links to your practice website boost SEO, boost traffic, and establish credibility. It's always better to create content for larger websites. Well, here's your chance to shine. I want to feature you on THIS blog in 2013! Here are 4 ways you can be featured:

1) Pitch a guest blog 

I'm always looking for guest posts from qualified individuals from a variety of fields who can share insights about how to run, manage, market, and thrive in private practice. I recently started working on my PhD and I'm not able to blog as often as I used to. I'm open to posts from professionals outside the mental health field as well. Attorneys, accountants, SEO experts, marketing, website design, interior design...If your expertise can help private mental health practitioners build successful businesses, pitch away!

2) Be featured in my"Adventures in Private Practice" series

Answer the following questions and submit them with a photo, a brief summary of your practice and a link to your website here.

  • Tell me a little about your practice…
  • Why did you decide to open a private practice?
  • Clients that therapists find to be the most “difficult” are sometimes the ones who can teach them the most. What have you learned from your toughest clients?
  • What’s your biggest pet peeve about private practice?
  • How did you discover or develop your practice “niche”?
  • What resource (book, website, person) helped you the most when setting up your private practice?
  • What has surprised you most about being in private practice?
  • Has your private practice helped you grow professionally? How so…
  • Has it helped you grow personally, too? How so…
  • Being a therapist can be emotionally exhausting. What do you do to care for your own emotional and psychological health?
  • How do you cope with the inevitable stressors involved with being your own boss?
  • What personal strengths have helped you succeed in private practice?

3) Be Featured in a "A Day In The Life" Series 

How do private practitioners spend their time? What does it take to create a thriving practice? Track your private practice activities for one day. Submit a word doc, photo, practice summary, and link to your practice here.

4) Be feature in my "Virtual Office Tour" series

Submit a video tour of your office space and I'll feature it on this blog! Submit you information here. Peek inside other therapist's offices.

Other ways to connect with private practice resources:

Join the Private Practice Toolbox Facebook Group

Join the Twitter conversation using hashtag #practicetoolbox (I'm @julie_hanks)

Join the 2013 Therapist Blog Challenge for help creating regular content on your private practice website.

Creative Commons License Martin Fisch via Compfight


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)

Does Google Love Your Therapy Practice?

kylepacegoogledoorWhen is the last time you opened a phone book, looked in an actual encyclopedia, opened a dictionary, or navigated with an  paper map? The Internet has revolutionized where we go for information. The several hundred million Google searches every day include searches by potential clients looking for your expertise, your niche, and your services. Can they find you? Try Googling your name, or your therapy practice, or your specialty areas in your city. Where do you come up in the Google search? On the first page or on page number 25? If Google can't easily find you then neither can potential clients who are searching for you and your specific therapy services.

Take a look at these Internet facts:

  • 62% of Americans use the Internet to find health care information. (Pew Internet and Family Life Study, 2009)
  • 28-35% of Americans look online specifically for mental health information. (Pew Internet and Family Life Study, 2009)
  • Kids aged 8-18 spend 7.5 to 10 hours a day “plugged in.” (2009 Kaiser Family Foundation Study)

For the past 5 years I've been actively leaving my digital footprint on the Internet for a two reasons: 1) To provide useful information to help women and families improve their mental health and family relationships and 2) To make it extremely easy for my ideal clients to find me and come to my private practice.

Keeping up with technology is crucial to building your private practice in a digital age. If you want to educate on mental health topics, promote grass roots social causes, and reach new clients (especially youth) with accurate mental health information and details about your services it's time to work harder to get Google's attention.

Here are a few things you can do to get Google to love your therapy practice and send new clients your way:

1) Get a website (if you don't already have one). Even if it's a one pager, it's better than nothing.

2) Include important keywords throughout the text of your website. Imagine what words that your ideal clients will be searching for.

3) Add a blog to your current website and write on topics that interest your ideal clients. Google favors new information so blog weekly.

4) Get others to link to your website. If you do media interviews, write articles, or network with other professionals always ask them to provide a link to your website. Add links to your website on any of social media profiles.

Google is the #1 referral source to my private practice. I love Google. I just searched my name "Julie Hanks LCSW" and Google found 26,100 results in about 0.16 seconds, and a search for my clinic "Wasatch Family Therapy" yielded 17,200 results in 0.18 seconds.

Over the next several months I'll be blogging on ways you can increase your visibility on search engines, ethically and effectively use social media so you can make it easy for your ideal clients to find your private practice...stay tuned.

Creative Commons License photo credit: The Daring Librarian