My calendar is full this month. If you ask me why, though, you’ll have to pull up a chair. The journey to figuring out the business part of my private practice was not on Google Maps. I couldn’t have known ahead of time what would work. I would have to say there is no one thing I can point to that has filled my practice consistently, because it is always changing and growing. Over time, the number of clients sent to me by other clients has been the largest source of referrals. These are my favorite because I know a client was happy with my work if they send someone else. My main focus is always on my therapeutic work. Keeping that front and center has slowly helped me build my caseload as friends tell friends, who tell friends, that I am here and I do good work.
But, the rest has been like building a puzzle. Here are some of the things I’ve done, each of which has contributed an important piece to the puzzle:
- Creating my own (lame) website. Then ditching it and calling Brighter Vision. Working on it all the time to keep it updated and fresh.
- Sending letters to doctors (this one’s my favorite!)
- Bringing popcakes to doctors (eating some on the way there).
- Meeting with local therapists (fun!), doctors, ministers, chiropractors, yoga instructors, etc.
- Hosting grief groups at local churches (incredibly moving and rewarding).
- Speaking engagements at churches and rotary club.
- Listings on Psychology today, Therapy Tribe, and every free listing.
- Actively finding out what other therapists in the area specialize in so that I know where to refer clients when needed.
- Offering online scheduling to make it very convenient for clients.
- Blogging. This one might be the most fun because I can be myself and help readers get an idea of whether they want to work with me.
- Starting and regularly tending a Facebook business page.
- Having a professional crew come in to make a video for my website.
I’m sure there are plenty more. The point is, though, I could not tell you which one of these is the most important. That has been frustrating, but also eye opening. All along, I’ve been looking for the one thing that would make a huge difference. What I found is that lots of things have made a small difference, over time. So, in a sense, perseverance has been the “one thing” that I can point to. And I’m not done.
One Size Does Not Fit All
For many of us in private practice, having a month where you have more clients than you can take, and another where you hear only crickets, is par for the course. But, finding what works for you, in your town, in your niche, for you as a person, will probably take some trial and error.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois. She helps couples build great relationships and repair broken ones. She was a huge liability on her softball team back in the day, but she hung with it for the pizza and beer afterward.