There are many benefits to being in private practice. That being said, there are also many challenges that come with being in private practice especially as an LPC Associate. Perhaps the biggest challenge is marketing and obtaining clients. It can be difficult to stand out in a sea of mental health professionals, especially when you’re just starting out. In this article, I will share my tips for overcoming these challenges and succeeding in private practice. It’s important not to go it alone and having a great supervisor can make all the difference.
How Do I Get Clients as an LPC Associate in Private Practice?
Before you ever see your first client, there are some things you need to do to set up your private practice. I covered this in detail in my previous post How to Start a Private Practice as an LPC Associate. Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, you’ll begin marketing your new private practice.
But wait! There’s one more crucial step before you spend any time or money on marketing. You first have to get crystal clear on who you will be marketing to. So before you even begin getting clients you need to determine what clients you want to see.
We refer to this in the biz as your ideal client. Now some therapists have a difficult time narrowing it down to an ideal client or niche, but you cannot, must not, skip this step! Trust me; I know from experience (and heartache as well as late nights spent wondering why what I was doing wasn’t getting the phone to ring).
You Need an Ideal Client Avatar
When you’re marketing your private practice, it’s important to know exactly who you want to see as clients. This is called your ideal client. It can be tough to pick just one type of person, but it’s important to do so because then you can focus all your marketing efforts on finding people who fit that description. When you know what type of person you want to help, it’s much easier to market to them.
Think about it this way: if you’re a therapist who specializes in working with anxiety, would you rather market to everyone or just people who suffer from anxiety? It’s much easier (and more effective) to market to the latter.
Not sure how to choose your ideal client? Here is a guide I wrote all about Identifying Your Ideal Client.
Once you’ve got your ideal client in mind, it’s time to start marketing!
Marketing Your Private Practice
There are a number of ways to get clients in private practice, but the best way to find clients when you’re first starting out is through word-of-mouth. Friends and family can be the best sources of referrals, so start by asking your loved ones if they know anyone who needs counseling. Because you’ve done the work of identifying your ideal client, they will know exactly who to send your way.
You can also reach out to local businesses and schools to see if they’re in need of a mental health professional. Again, the type of businesses you target with your marketing efforts will be determined by your ideal client. Who already interacts with this person? What types of businesses does your ideal client frequent? Go there.
Your Biggest Advantage in Marketing is Standing Out
Getting clear about your ideal client and tailoring your message to speak directly to their pain will put you miles ahead of other therapists. Being an associate in private practice means that you cannot accept insurance (at least as of the time I’m writing this). This is a good thing because it’s a decision many fully licensed clinicians wrestle with.
There was a Facebook post in a group of therapists that asked what was the biggest mistake they made in their private practice. So many therapists said that they regret ever taking insurance. Luckily, you don’t even have that option.
That being said, there are challenges to being strictly private pay. I’ve never taken insurance, so I understand them well. Many people want to be able to use their insurance. This makes sense since they are paying for it; why not use it?
You have to convince potential clients to pay you when they could potentially find someone else who does take their insurance. How do you accomplish this? That’s right, by standing out!
Create Your Marketing Tagline
You want to be able to tell people who you help in as few words as possible. Remember that working memory only allows us to hold about seven pieces of information at a time, so you want to make sure your message is short and sweet.
For example, my marketing tagline for my own private practice is “Helping Couples Bridge the Gap Between Head and Heart.” I work with a lot of frustrated couples where one partner identifies as more emotional and the other more logical. This can be extremely aggravating, and my tagline speaks to that. It’s specific enough to let people know what I do and also serves to pique interest on my website.
If someone were to ask what I do, I often respond with something like, “I work with frustrated couples who have a hard time sharing what’s bothering them without fighting.” This is much better than simply saying, “I’m a marriage counselor.” The former usually leads people to ask follow-up questions where the latter doesn’t. It also has the added bonus of getting people to consider marriage counseling when they originally thought it was only for couples who were trying to avoid a divorce.
Clarifying Your Message
The clearer you can be, the better. I typically encourage therapists to stick to the following formula: “I help [specific person] overcome [specific problem/challenge] so they can achieve [specific result].” For my supervision practice, it might sound like this: “I help LPC Associates thrive in private practice without the frustration and overwhelm.”
Good marketing is an exercise in memorization. You want to perfect this tagline then repeat it whenever you can- with friends and family, in networking meetings, on your website. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from people you trust. Once you’ve got it down, this message needs to be everywhere your ideal client or someone they know can see it. Okay, maybe not everywhere, but you get the idea.
Build (or Buy) an Awesome Website
Now that you have a handful of clients, you can focus more of your time and energy on crafting a beautiful website for your private practice that will have clients reaching out to you day and night. Hopefully, you have it set up so they can email or submit a consultation request instead of waking you up by calling at 4 AM.
Assuming you don’t have a website yet, there are some key components it must include:
- Your marketing tagline from earlier- make sure it’s above the fold on your home page (where someone can see it without scrolling down)
- A clear and concise description of what you do- remember, people have short attention spans!
- A clear call to action (CTA)- what do you want visitors to your site to do? This could be “subscribe to my newsletter,” “book a free consultation,” or “read my blog.”
- Your contact information- make it easy for potential clients to reach out to you
- An “About Me” page that tells visitors who you are, what your story is, and why you do what you do
- An awesome headshot that makes you look approachable and trustworthy
- And, of course, specific service pages that speak to your ideal client and are built to rank in Google!
If you’re not a web designer or don’t have the time to design a website yourself, there are plenty of great options out there for pre-made themes that you can customize to your liking. Of course, you can pay someone else to build your website for you as well.
This could easily set you back thousands of dollars though- money you may not have to invest. And your website is just that- an investment. Really, it’s the best investment you can make in your private practice.
I’m not going to harp on this because it’s a soapbox I frequent: you need a great website.
*shameless plug incoming*
You can get a great website that looks good and ranks well on Google that brings in clients on autopilot for just $99/mo, and that includes design, development, copywriting, and maintenance! The only way I know of for you to get all of that for less than a hundred bucks per month is to work with me. And no, you don’t have to be an associate under my supervision to get this deal. It’s available to any therapist who wants a great website without the typical hassle and expense. Just schedule a call at the bottom of this page, and we’ll chat.
*end of shameless plug*
You Don’t Have to Do This on Your Own
Truthfully, you can’t go into private practice on your own because as an associate, you still have to be under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. That doesn’t mean every LPC Supervisor out there can guide you to success in private practice, however.
You need a supervisor who can guide you step-by-step through setting up, marketing, and growing a private practice. I became a supervisor to do just that. I want to help as many LPC Associates as possible have a thriving and profitable private practice so they can make the impact in the world they were meant to make. Providing online supervision in Texas means anyone in the state can work with me.
If you’re an LPC Associate (or soon-to-be) who is confident you have what it takes to be successful in private practice, reach out to me. I’ll be more than happy to help however I can. Just schedule a call at the bottom of this page, and let’s chat.
I’ll end with this: private practice isn’t easy, but it is worth it. With the right guidance, you can succeed in private practice as an LPC Associate. And I’m here to help you do just that.
About the Author
Mark Cagle is an LPC Supervisor in Texas and provides online supervision to LPC Associates throughout the state. He also has a thriving private practice in Dallas focused on working with couples in crisis.
Being the nerd that he is, he also builds websites and creates digital marketing plans to help other therapists flourish in their practices.
There are many great reasons to work with Mark, but don't just take his word for it. If you want to skip the usual associate slog and jumpstart your career in private practice, schedule a chat.