If you are a therapist in private practice providing play therapy to child clients, you probably are quite familiar with how important it is to gain trust from the parents of your child clients for success in meeting your treatment goals. It is equally important, for the sake of your business, to effectively sell parents on the promise and process of your play therapy services.
How Does Selling Play Therapy Services Work?
Many therapists I have worked with over the years bristle at the mere mention of the words “selling” or “sales”. Perfectly understandable if you are envisioning a manipulative used-car salesperson. But, the truth is, “selling” need not be slimy. Selling is merely the process of providing information to a potential buyer in such a way that ideally convinces them that what you have to offer is a match for what they need.
Success in selling play therapy services requires some skill and savvy. But, more importantly, it requires you to have clarity and genuine enthusiasm about the services you provide. Enthusiasm is an energy that is felt by others. As an owner of your private practice, you are no longer just a clinician. You are a business owner. And, as a business owner, it’s essential that you become comfortable with how to sell.
You Can Successfully Sell Your Services To Parents Without Sounding Salesy!
You must be able to sell the idea of what it is you do as a clinician in such a way that parents want to bring their child to you and also feel invested in the play therapy process. A successful sale will be made when parents are so believing in the power of play therapy, and in you as the therapist, that they will gladly allow their child to be seen with continuity, until the goals of treatment have been reached. When they feel relief and satisfaction with their experience with you, they will refer others to you.
Here are some tips on selling play therapy services to parents:
1. It All Starts With the Initial Phone Call
As soon as you are on the phone with a parent who is seeking support for her child, you begin the process of selling by listening with genuine empathy. As the parent presents the reasons she is calling you, she is already investing time and energy. And, when you are able to just listen and affirm her pain/frustration/challenges, you are beginning the important process of building rapport – right off the bat. Present a brief, informative statement about the power of play therapy. And, how you’ve seen it help many children with issues similar, or the same, as hers over your years of practicing play therapy. Be sure to share your enthusiasm for what it is you do and how you can help.
2. The Parent Intake Session is Your Chance to Gain Parent Buy-In
I recommend therapists schedule a full 90 minute session for the parent intake. This provides ample time to take in all the clinical information you need about the child, the family, and the presenting issues. But, it also provides time to help the parents feel connected to you and to the play therapy process. Use the last 20 minutes of this session to provide a tour of the office. Help them know what to expect, ensure they will be meeting with you regularly, and give them a chance to ask questions. This solidifies their investment in the play therapy process.
3. Conduct Regularly Scheduled Parent Sessions
It’s wise to schedule parent sessions after every four play therapy sessions to discuss the progress of therapy. These sessions are an opportunity to maintain rapport with parents. It also helps them to feel their concerns are being heard and questions are being answered.
4. Provide Articles, Books, and Other Resources
It’s always a good idea to be prepared with outside confirmation of what you are doing in play therapy. Organize a packet of helpful articles about play therapy and about the specific issues the child and family is facing to be given to parents. You might even have a different article or book chapter for parents to read in the waiting room during each play therapy session.
5. Follow Through and Follow Up
Once the child’s play therapy is coming to a close, be sure to schedule a clear plan for closure sessions. Not only with your child client, but also with parents. Review the original goals of therapy and how those goals have been reached to reinforce that you have provided a successful therapeutic experience for their child and family. Offer a follow-up call or meeting in a month after the final closing session. This follow up is a chance to check in on how the child is doing. But, it is also a soft sales opportunity to thank the parents for allowing you the honor of helping their family and tell them you’ll be grateful for any referrals they may send your way in the future.
Many therapists came to practice play therapy with a preference for treating children as opposed to adults. In order to have a successful private practice, it is critically important for you to weave in protocols for selling play therapy services to parents from the start and all the way through the process. Happy practice building!
Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, CPCS, has been practicing play therapy since 2002 and has been training, supervising, and providing practice-building consultation and mentoring to therapists since 2010. She is an APT Approved Provider for Play Therapy Training and a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. She founded and built two successful play therapy group practices in metro Atlanta between 2007 and 2017, and has created a rich bank of play therapy training webinars and recorded workshops utilized by therapists worldwide. Lynn leads a 90-day Mentoring MasterMind for therapists, as well as private business coaching and mentoring services. You can read more about her training and services at www.wonderscounseling.com.