Starting a practice
How to market your practice and get more therapy clients
Growing your clientele can be a lot less complicated than you think. All you’ll need is a simple mindset shift and a couple basic strategies that help potential clients find and connect with you.
You’ve earned the degree, completed the internship and residency, and now you’re ready to use all your hard-won skills to support people’s mental health. The next important step? Building a client base that supports your business.
Let’s face it: Putting yourself out there to build your practice can be time consuming and may even feel a little intimidating. Marketing yourself and your practice requires a different mindset than, say, active listening or implementing your go-to therapy modalities in session.
The good news? Growing your clientele can be a lot less complicated than you think. All you’ll need is a simple mindset shift and a couple basic strategies that help potential clients find and connect with you.
Read on to learn more about how to get more therapy clients.
Getting started with practice marketing
At the end of the day, your practice is a business — and it pays off (literally) to focus on it. While that may seem counterintuitive, you’ll get to help more people the more strategic you are. Don’t stress If you’ve never taken a business class. Marketing your therapy practice is as simple as identifying your goals as a therapist and taking strategic steps to make them a reality.
Before you dive in, take some time to reflect what type of clients you’re most suited to help, given your education, work background, and professional interests. Once you pinpoint who you want to reach — in business terms, your ideal client or target market — you can start developing strategies to connect with them and make it easy to for them to book an appointment with you.
Making a First Impression
It’s your job to support people in their mental health journeys — which all start with the vulnerable process of searching for and reaching out to a therapist (that’s you). These days, most people search for mental health providers online, so you’ll want to make it easy for people to get an idea of who you are and what to expect working with you.
Clients aren’t looking for long: Once they’re motivated to seek care, they’re looking to quickly find a therapist who feels like a good match and takes their insurance, so you might only get one chance to make a first impression with your bio and headshot.
If you haven’t already, hire a photographer to get a professional headshot (learn more about the ins and outs of a good therapist headshot here). It’s also important to craft a biography that outlines your education, experience, and therapeutic approach.
These steps may seem simple, but they can play a big role in helping people determine whether you’re a good fit for their mental health needs and, hopefully, encourage them to move forward in making an appointment with you.
Your brand, simply put, is the way you come across to potential clients. It’s the culmination of the services you provide, your personality, communication style, and therapeutic approach and values. All of these factors are conveyed in your headshot, bio, website, social media, and directory profile.
Before you take steps to reach more clients, take time to think about your “brand.” What’s your niche or specialty? For example, do you want to focus on adults struggling with depression, or young people navigating big life decisions? What investments have you made in developing your skills and understanding of different modalities and client populations? Be clear about these things in your content so people can quickly determine whether you’re the right therapist for them.
If you don’t have a niche in mind, that’s ok, too! It’s still valuable to get specific with how you describe your practice. Think about what’s unique about your style, personality, and therapeutic environment, and find ways to communicate that in your marketing so a potential client can feel like you’re exactly the therapist to help them.
5 ways to get more therapy clients
1. Build a website
Your website is likely a potential client’s first point of contact with you, so it’s crucial to invest in it. Along with a headshot and bio, create a logo and aesthetic (think fonts, colors, and images) that’s consistent across all your platforms (social media, emails, and so on).
When it comes to your web content, put yourself in a potential client’s shoes. Think about how a client may be feeling in the moment of searching for care: How can you speak to this feeling in your website and paint the vision for how they'd feel working with you? What would you want to know if you were checking out a therapist for the first time? Consider adding pages about the services you provide, your location — maybe even a picture of your office — and how to book an appointment.
It can also be helpful to create a blog where you post about topics relevant to your practice. Along with establishing you as an expert in your field, you can boost your website ranking by regularly publishing new content that includes relevant keywords.
2. Create social media profiles
Social media is another way to connect with a broader audience. Once you identify your target audience, do some research to find out which social media channels they spend the most time on. For instance, if you want to reach Gen Z clients, you may want to create a TikTok profile. But if your goal is to connect with older people, then you could post more on Facebook.
In addition to introducing yourself and your brand, you can use social media to establish yourself as a trusted mental health expert. Consider repurposing your blog content and creating videos or graphics that lead people back to your website, where they can learn more about you and book an appointment.
You can also purchase ads on social media channels. On TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, you can choose a target demographic — say, college students or new parents who live in nearby cities — and publish ads that show up on their social media feeds.
As always: Be mindful of the differences between your personal and professional social media presence. Set up appropriate privacy settings and take care with what is posted where potential clients can see.
3. Sign up for therapist directories
Creating profiles on therapist directories is a simple-but-effective way to take advantage of sites that have already established a significant audience.
One of the major players in the directory space is Psychology Today. For around $30 a month, you can publish an optimized profile that shares your photo, bio, specialties, fees and insurance info, and more. Potential clients can use specific search filters to ensure an ideal fit and then reach out directly to you through your profile.
Zocdoc is another popular platform that makes it easy to search for a mental health provider. Potential clients can directly book on the website, and you only pay a one-time fee when someone schedules an appointment with you. Clients can also publish reviews on Zocdoc, which can help build your reputation as a therapist.
Google My Business is a tool that allows you to create a totally free business profile on Google that lists your contact info, location, questions and answers, and client ratings and reviews. You can use this feature to measure analytics, such as which actions people take when they Google your business (for example, visiting your website, requesting directions, or contacting you directly).
Other directories to consider include:
- Mental Health Match: first two months free, $17 a month, and 15% off your next 6 months if you use referral code: headway
- Quartet Health: free
- TherapyDen: free
- Open Path: free
- MyWellbeing: free
- TherapyTribe: first month free, then $30/month
- GoodTherapy: $30/month
- Therapist.com: first three months free
- Clinicians of Color: first month free
- Kink Aware Professionals: free
- Latinx Therapy: $9/month for basic subscription
- LGBTQ Therapy Space: free
- Therapy for Christians: $20/month
- Health in Her HUE: free
4. Make it easy for clients to leave testimonials
Word-of-mouth from happy clients is an important way to establish your reputation as a therapist. While some clients may recommend you to others organically, you can take extra steps to establish trust with potential patients online.
If you have a website, include links to sites like Zocdoc or Google where interested clients can leave reviews of their experience. You can also publish happy client testimonials on your site as well: Keep them anonymous, or use your clients’ feedback to describe your therapy style (“My clients describe me as warm and empathetic.”)
Direct, honest feedback can also help retain your existing clients. For example, you might find out your scheduling system is challenging to use and impacting who returns for repeat sessions.
Consider, too, joining professional groups and attending networking events where you can build relationships with other providers who may refer clients to you if they’re not accepting new ones. You may also want to build relationships with other providers, such as psychiatrists and primary care physicians, who can refer patients to you.
Keep practice marketing in perspective
With the right mindset and marketing strategies, you can make it easy for your ideal client to find you and get the support they need to overcome mental health challenges and thrive in their everyday lives.
But remember: It takes time and energy to build your practice, and you have limited supplies of both.
Burnout is prevalent in the mental healthcare field. Do what you can, take care of yourself, and rely on your community and colleagues for resources and support.