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Starting a practice

Networking 101: How to cultivate professional relationships in mental healthcare

An abstract illustration that represents networking between people; dots and circles coming together.

Professional relationships can benefit you and your mental healthcare practice. Here are some practical tips for expanding your network.

As a mental healthcare professional, you already know a thing or two about the importance of relationships, and how having a support system in place can benefit a person’s well-being.

Forging connections, not surprisingly, is also important as a clinician — especially if you own your own practice. A solid network of mental health and other medical professionals can help you grow your business and, more importantly, be the best therapist you can be for your clients.

Read on to learn more about how cultivating more professional relationships can benefit you and your business, and practical tips for expanding your network.

Benefits of networking in mental healthcare

Professional connections can go a long way in supporting you and your practice:

  • Create a community. Working as a therapist, rewarding as it is, is tough work — and you may feel isolated if you work in private practice. “Having a community of peers who share in your challenges can be a great source of support, both personally and professionally,” says Natalia Tague, a therapist and clinical lead at Headway.
  • Provide better care. Not sure how to best help a struggling client? While maintaining privacy, you can touch base with other mental health professionals who specialize in different areas or who may have more experience than you with a particular population — ultimately, providing better care to your own clients.
  • Make referrals. Networking is a great way to ensure you have trusted referrals in place, whether you’re not taking new clients or a potential client’s treatment is outside your scope of practice.
  • Expand your practice. Other therapists can recommend you to clients they can’t see, helping you grow your business. “Many client referrals come from other providers, such as therapists whose caseloads are full or don’t share in your specialty, or medical providers who want reliable partners in care for the mental health of their patients,” says Tague.

6 ways to network as a therapist

Like the idea of more professional relationships, but not sure where to get started? Test the waters of networking and grow your practice with these simple but effective tips.

1. Network within your niche

Professional events and groups are a great opportunity to build relationships with therapists who have similar backgrounds, such as licensure or specialty. Try searching “[your license] events near me” or “online [specialty] therapist group” to cultivate relationships with like-minded therapists for support and referrals.

2. Attend conferences

Beyond the continued education, conferences and seminars are a great way to get to know other providers beyond your immediate locale and outside your specialty. Once or twice a year, consider attending a conference about a topic you want to learn more about — for example, LGBTQIA+ mental health — or even pursuing another professional certification.

3. Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t just a place to list your resumé; you can also use it as you would social media, including connecting with other mental health professionals. Connect with local therapists and medical providers in your area, and engage with their content to build authentic professional online relationships. To find new people to connect with, try searching for therapists, psychiatrists, or primary care providers in your city, and send a personal note introducing yourself and your practice and explaining you want to build more professional relationships.

4. Consult with other therapists

Peer consultation is a great way to support the psychotherapy field while building professional relationships. In this setting, your fellow therapists can get a clear idea of who you are and how you work, which is invaluable when it comes to future referrals. Plus, you’ll establish yourself as a trusted professional and key contributor in the local therapy community.

5. Meet professionals outside the mental health space

Consider connecting with local primary care doctors or pediatricians who may want to refer patients to a therapist in the future. Also, think about your specialty and the professional services your ideal client might use. For example, if you specialize in kids, connect with local schools or community centers. Or if you frequently work with people who have chronic pain, introduce yourself at a local physical therapy or chiropractic clinic.

6. Join Facebook groups

Facebook is a great place to connect with therapists in your area and beyond. Search for and join private groups related to your license or specialty and regularly comment on other therapists’ posts. Your contributions to other peoples’ questions or ideas is a simple way to build relationships, and you’ll establish yourself as an expert in your area of practice.

Expanding your professional network takes time and a bit of creativity, but consider it an investment in yourself and the practice you’ve worked so hard to build. Remember: Relationships breed more relationships, so a little can go a long way when it comes to networking.

Over time, your network will multiply, your practice will grow, and you can be confident that with support, you can provide the best possible care to your clients.

Headway is a free service that makes it easier and more profitable for therapists and psychiatrists to accept insurance.

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