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4 Reasons To Start Creating Content Online

Fast Hands

Creating consistent online content can help grow your practice faster than almost any other marketing or networking activity

According to digital content creation is "The development of newsworthy, educational and entertainment material for distribution over the Internet or other electronic media." It falls under the umbrella of content marketing which is a narrative form of sharing information that speaks to a potential client's need while sharing who you are and the benefits of what you do. Content creation is a way of building trust online and with potential clients by being a valuable resource without asking for anything in return.

Consistently creating compelling and relevant content is the primary reason my private practice has continued to grow in spite of the economic downturn of recent years. Not only has my clinic grown, but since I started regularly blogging, writing, producing videos, and doing media interviews amazing opportunities have come my way. Publishing offers, national media interviews, conference invitations, consulting business, and over 25,000 social followers across multiple social networks are just a few of the incredible doors that have opened to me since I started focusing on content creation.

Here are 4 reasons that becoming a content creator can help build your private practice:

1) Visibility

Posting new content on your own practice website will help your site rank higher in search engines. Creating content for other websites, like guest blogging or interviewing with local news agencies who post the video clip and story online, also provides a SEO boost because it demonstrates that you are relevant and it strengthens your online presence. The easier it is for potential clients to find you online, the quicker your practice will grow.

2) Presence

Because the majority of adults are searching for health information online a strong online presence is critical for growing your practice. A general marketing rule is that it takes about 7 exposures to a brand or product before someone will buy a product or service. Strengthening your online presence makes it more likely that potential clients will be exposed to your "brand" and chose to become your client.

3) Value

Content creation can be another form of community education and a way to provide value to everyone, whether or not they become clients. Content that shares helpful information and answers the needs of people you are qualified to help is tremendously valuable. From a business standpoint, content creation provides an incentive for visitors to return to your practice website for your valuable content, which helps build trust in your services.

4) Credibility

Content allows you to show or demonstrate your expertise and competence instead of just telling someone about it. While I have always been an early internet/technology adopter and I've owned a private practice for over a decade, it wasn't until I started writing this Private Practice Toolbox blog that I became a credible practice building "expert". Creating regular content that meets a need for private practice therapists has allowed me to connect with therapists around the globe and to add private practice consulting as an additional income stream. Largely due to content creation on this blog alone, I have been invited to present to the National Association Of Social Workers on building an online presence, to co-present with PsychCentral founder John Grohol at South By Southwest Conference, and to write the feature article for the current issue of Online Therapy Institute's TILT magazine, and have presented locally on practice building.

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Social Media Marketing Checklist: 10 Steps To Building A Stronger Online Presence

Are you overwhelmed by the world of social media? These 10 steps will make it easier for clients to find your private practice online.

I presented my very first webinar ever yesterday (and I survived)! Sponsored by National Association of Social Workers the webinar was titled "Building Your Private Practice In A Digital World: Creating A Strong Online Practice Presence." It is crucial for private practitioners to have an online presence in order to attract clients to your practice because the internet is a main source of health information.

A few participants in yesterday's webinar felt overwhelmed by the content, by social media in genera, and felt unsure about where to start developing their online presence. If you fall into that category, I suggest you start with #1 on the list below and work your way down to #10. Focus on just one item at a time. I've broken down the process into 10 "simple" steps, in order of priority, to help you get started on building a strong online presence.

  1. Identify your ideal client and your basic practice message
  2. Get a website for your private practice
  3. Add a blog on your private practice website
  4. Start blogging weekly on topics geared toward ideal client
  5. Sign up for a Facebook Business Page for your practice
  6. Open a Twitter account for your practice
  7. Add Facebook and Twitter social network links to your website and blog posts
  8. Share your weekly posts on Facebook and Twitter
  9. Make a list of websites and blogs that that your ideal clients in your geographic are likely to visit
  10. Submit guest blog posts to those sites on topics that target your ideal client and include your basic message and practice website link in your bio.

I'm off to teach this practice building workshop today for Utah NASW at the University of Utah. It'll basically be the same content as the webinar except that I'll be adding this priority list to today's presentation.

Join my Private Practice Toolbox Facebook Group and share ideas and resources with 250+ therapist from around the world.

20 Ways Shrinks Stay Sane

Mental Health Blog Party BadgeIt's mental health month! Like many of you, I've been actively sharing mental health information as a way to increase education and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. While it's an honor to be in a profession that focuses on supporting the mental health of others, being a therapist often requires regularly going to "dark" places with clients, and that can take a toll on our own mental health. After nearly 20 years in the field, I've noticed that a lot of therapists (myself included) tend to be caretakers, people-pleasers, and self-sacrificers, making us particularly vulnerable to neglecting our own mental health in the name of caring for others. I have learned to become fiercely dedicated to self-care, self- awareness and to maintaining my own relationships in order to protect and nurture my own mental health.

I wanted to reach out beyond my own experience to therapists around the world to see how they nurture their own mental health in a profession that can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Here's what they had to say.

1. Live in the present

"I make myself more present by asking 'Where am I in space right now? What do i hear? What do I feel? What do I taste and smell? What do I see?' " Natalie Robinson Garfield.

"I find 20 minutes a day to escape from the world and enjoy the peace and quiet." Deborah Serani, Ph.D.

"I meditate regularly and journal about my dreams."  Dr. Will Courtenay

2. Surround yourself with positive people

"I rid myself of toxic relationships and situations immediately and I engage in religious activities, especially prayer," says Leticia R. Reed, LCSW.

Surrounding yourself with positive people also includes you. Kim Olver, LCPC checks the stories she tells herself about her own life. "If they serve me great, if they don't I'll change them. I'm the one who makes them up after all," says Olver.

3. Go to your own therapy

"I go to my own therapy on a regular basis." Dr. Will Courtenay

"I take care of my mental health by checking in with my own counselor when I need someone objective to bounce things off of and get centered or grounded." Xiomara A. Sosa

"I have entered therapy 3 times since my core training. 3 different styles to suit the issues I was experiencing. I also do workshops and retreats throughout the year for personal/spiritual development." Jodie Gale

4. Get moving

"I have two Labrador retrievers who demand a lot of attention. I find a great escape just going out into the backyard and throwing the Frisbee for an hour." Regina Bright, LMHC

“I salsa dance! I rely on the nonverbal connection with my partner and happy music to get through some challenging weeks.” Dr. Amy E. Keller

"Every day I take time to meditate or participate in Pilates or yoga." Diane Petrella, MSW

5. Nurture a sense of humor 

"I try to maintain a good sense of humor and find ways to laugh during life’s challenges." Ashley Bretting, LMFT

"My spouse and I attend a comedy show every week."  Stacey Kinney, LMFT

6. Maintain friendships

“I make sure to have tea or lunch at least once a week with a friend that is supportive and makes me laugh." Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D.

"I find that participating through friendship in the life of someone outside the field is even more refreshing and grounding than the peer consultation we used to do." Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D.

7. Take a break

"I love vacationing to Costa Rica."Dr. Amy E. Keller

"I enjoy watching funny and/or inspirational YouTube videos." Hugh A Forde, PhD

"Hiking is a great activity that helps reduce my stress levels." Dr. Karen Sherman

8. Catch some zzzz's regularly

This one is an important one for me. I try to take a long naps every Sunday afternoon.

"My goal is to get at least eight hours of sleep every night." Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD

9. Uplifting media

"I like to read books, listen to music, and subscribe to inspirational Facebook pages." Dr. Matthew Clark

10. Reach out to those in need

“I do volunteer work with Mission Outreach, a non-profit group that collects unused medical supplies in the United States and sends them to third world countries. Being able to help others in such a simple, easy way does wonders for one's outlook on life.” Sujatha Ramakrishna, M.D.

11. Create fun each day

"I ask myself, 'Have I had fun today?' If the answer is no, then make it happen before the night is over!" Natalie Robinson Garfield

“I pursue my hobbies of photography, painting, and jewelry making.” Stacey Brown 

12. Say no

"I have found that out is easier to say "no" when I realize that if you say "no" to one thing, you are always saying "yes" to something else. If I say "no" to a new client, I am saying "yes" to time with family and a less busy mind." Joseph R. Sanok, LPC

"I hold stringently to my practice days and hours—keeping mornings for myself to exercise and write, using afternoon to early evening for clients, and taking off Fridays for whatever I want to do." Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed.

13. Celebrate nature

"I love to spend time in nature by walking through the woods or listening to the birds chirp." Sujatha Ramakrishna, M.D.

"I work in a professional office setting and need to be reminded that I am an animal. Getting out to a park or the beach or a hike in the mountain, or even a drive up the coast with the top down are instant healing techniques." Nancy B. Irwin Psy.D

14) Express yourself creatively

"I nurture my own mental health through my other profession which is as a comic/ writing my own material I get to see the humor in almost every situation and in performing it, I get to bring of the greatest stress reducers of others." Jane Stroll

"I write in a journal often." Xiomara A. Sosa

"I take a writing class, so that I can stay creative and do something that's just for me!" Janet Zinn, LCSW

15. Get pampered

My personal favorites are a message and a pedicure. I try to do at least two pampering activities a month to help me relax and to nurture myself.  Ashley Bretting, MFT gets pampered by having her hair washed by someone else. Whether it's a hot bubble bath or a leisurely walk, do something that feels nurturing on a regular basis.

16. Be a kid

Ashley Bretting "I bring out her inner child by coloring with crayons or paints!"

“I spend time with animals and children. The unconditional, pure love and affection from these creatures soothes the soul.” Nancy B. Irwin Psy.D

17. Get out of your head

“I bike to work as much as I can -- this is a 30 minute commute by bike, 20 minutes by car.  In doing this, I ensure that I arrive at work very relaxed & calm (having just spent time close to nature -- hearing the birds chirp and the wind blow and seeing green around).  When I leave the office at the end of the day, all of my worries get worked out by the time I get home.  So, I arrive at home very relaxed also!” Sally Palaian, PhD

18. Process your feelings regularly

Karen Hylen, Ph.D, of Summit Malibu Treatment Center suggest regularly sharing  your feelings with a friend or a loved one to avoid emotional explosions. Hylen shares this analogy:

When you bottle up your emotions, you are figuratively assembling a bomb in your head. Each feeling you bury in your head is you  putting together another piece of the bomb. Keep enough of your feelings to yourself and before you know it you'll have an emotional explosion.

19. Focus on family

I enjoy spending time with my family. Going to the beach and reading or walking is especially refreshing. I take two trips a year with the family and then one with just my husband. Regina Bright, LMHC

"I make sure I make time for my loved ones. It is an anchoring force," shares Dr. Anandhi Narasimhan.

20. Consult regularly on difficult situations

When I first went into independent practice I set up to have lunch or breakfast with a colleague also in independent practice every couple of weeks. It allowed us to bounce ideas off of each other and not feel so isolated in our work. Mark Sharp, Ph.D. I want to hear your mental health tips! Post them below

Naming Your Practice Is Like Naming A Child

I have four children. Luckily, I still like the names my husband and I gave them. Their names fit them. Their names aren't too common or too weird. Like naming a child, choosing a practice name that fits can be a difficult process that brings up anxiety for therapists. You want your practice name to be an accurate reflection of you, as a therapist, and also appeal to your ideal clients.  You don't want to regret your decision down the road, right?

Ten years ago I wrestled with the question of what to name my practice. Funny enough, it was just one month after my 3rd child was born and we  didn't name him for a couple of days because my husband and I couldn't agree on his name. The name he'd picked for our son, Joshua, was a fine name but it just wasn't him. He was Owen, not Joshua. I don't regret taking a couple of days and "going to bat" for the name that fit my son.

I don't regret the name I picked for my private practice either. I wrestled with a few different practice options and settled on Wasatch Family Therapy. Here are some common questions about naming your practice and some insight into how I made my decision.

Should I use my name or come up with a separate practice name?

  • I wanted the name to sound bigger than a solo practice because that was my long-term vision for my practice: to grow it to a clinic with several therapists, so I chose a name that sounded established and respectable.
  • I was advised by my attorney not to use my name as my practice in case I was involved in a lawsuit. He said that my practice name would be out in the media and would provide an added layer of protection of my personal name.

Should my practice name be tied to my specific geographical location?

  • I decided to tie my practice name loosely to my location. The Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Mountains refer to a regional area, not a specific city or town. Because my vision was to grow the practice and possibly have multiple office locations, I didn't want it to be limited to a narrow location. Last October, we opened up a second location in Provo, UT, which is still considered the Wasatch Front.

Should I try to be clever or straightforward in naming my practice?

  • Don't worry about being clever or deep with your practice name. Since most people are finding their mental health information and providers online, consider including searchable terms in your practice name.  I included "Family Therapy" in my practice name because it's something that my ideal clients would type in a search. Ask yourself, "What will my ideal clients type in Google if they're seeking my services?" If you're a child therapist you might want to use the term "child counselor" or "child therapy" in your name. If you work with couples you may want to use "couples counseling" or "marriage therapy" in your name.

I'd love to hear your process of naming your practice?

Do you have moments of regret about your practice name or are you happy with it?

Share your thoughts in the comment box below!