$8,296 Million. That’s the projected value of the online therapy business market by 2030, just 7 years from now. There’s a rise in demand for mental health professionals in the post-corona epoch, and that has created a wonderful boost in business for practitioners.
However, it’s difficult to strike a balance between a passion to help individuals struggling with mental health issues and running a successful business. Therapy and counselling in itself demand a lot from you as a profession—never mind the intricacies of running a practice.
This blog delves deep into the top 3 therapy business challenges, the most effective solutions to overcome each challenge, and a lowdown on how to grow your therapy business.
1. Failing to identify a suitable niche
Challenge: One of the most common therapy business challenges is that most the professionals fail to choose an area of specialization, especially while starting out with their businesses. In the beginning, the focus tends to be on gathering experience, but without soon establishing a niche, that can unravel into generalization and a lost opportunity to build specific expertise.
Solution: When you niche down, you come across as an expert in that area of specialization. It helps connect with the right prospect faster and more easily than when you try to appeal to any and every client. It gives you an edge over others in the therapy business as clients would know what exactly to expect from your services. Zero in on a specialization like that around “pre-teens and teenagers”, “post-partum depression”, etc.
Pro tip: When trying to narrow down on your niche, consider your areas of interest especially those in which you may have personal experience. Also build your network with other therapists and counsellors, especially with those who are in the profession for quite some time now and have built a solid reputation for themselves. Observing them in their niche will help you create a path for yourself and also give you a clear idea of market trends.
2. Lack of a proper marketing strategy
Challenge: Most therapists and counsellors feel that marketing their practice goes against the ethics of the profession. And even if that’s not the case, they tend to lack a solid marketing strategy for their therapy business. This is one of the most daunting therapy business challenges. However, marketing isn’t all about blowing your own horn – it’s simply important to try and reach out to a wide audience and to use on-trend marketing platforms to bring in more business
Solution: With the power of the internet, the world is your oyster. One way to deal with this particular therapy business challenge and to run a thriving business and be successful at that, chalk out a marking strategy right at the beginning. Let’s have a quick look at what that involves:
Step 1: Research your market thoroughly
The first step is to understand your market inside out — now that you know your niche, write down who your target audience is (age group and gender, how much they are willing to pay, whether they are comfortable with online or face-to-face, or hybrid, where do their interests lie online, etc.). Use this information to zone in on the correct marketing platforms for you in the next step.
Step 2: Know your online marketing platforms
Once you are clear about your niche and who your target audience is, you’ll get a clear idea of where they are spending time online. Social media is the biggest tool to leverage here: If your target audience mainly comprises business women, for example, you’d want to use both LinkedIn as well as Instagram. Trying to keep up a presence on any and every platform will wear you out (and not bring in the clients you need), so this step forms an important base in your marketing strategy.
Let’s look at some steps to create a fool-proof online marketing strategy for your therapy business.
a. Create a website
In the eyes of an always-online society, creating an impactful, professional-looking website would add to your credibility as a therapist or a counsellor. The website is also a handy way to track when potential clients are showing interest in your business, and to give them a chance to book an appointment with you. With online platforms like Simply.Coach you can also create a Showcase Page or a webpage for yourself/each business associate if you work in a group practice, enabling potential clients to book appointments directly from them.
b. Get the ball rolling on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means optimizing your website in a way that makes it rank higher on Google search engine page results. If someone looks for “Therapists in XYZ area” for example, the goal is that your website should rank highest – or at least on the first page of results.
This can be achieved with a number of steps, starting with incorporating keywords in your website content. Make sure to incorporate keywords around your therapy and counselling niche, area, services, and potential clients in your website. This helps your website to rank high in (and often land up on the first page of) different search engines like Google during a relevant search query.
N.B. 30% of the individuals looking for any result online tend to click the first result, and only 10% of the online inquirer look beyond the first page.
c. Get a boost with pay-per-click advertising
Pay-per-click advertising (like Google Ads) is a form of digital advertising where you need to pay a nominal fee every time someone clicks on your ad and lands on your website. The ads can be in the form of texts, images, videos, or an amalgamation of both or all three. Search ads, for example, are keyword-based text ads that show up at the top of the search engine results page for the keywords you target. Other ads show up on websites that your audience frequents. Social media too, has ‘sponsored posts’ and other formats that help you better reach your audience on the platform.
d. Use Email Marketing to turn prospects into clients
Email marketing helps you convert leads into clients, and is also extremely beneficial in retaining existing clients. Email nurturing helps you stay at the top of your prospect’s mind during the decision-making process. However, make sure your emails are a value-add to your client’s day, or they will unsubscribe.
Step 3: Build connections
Even as you make the online world the focus of your marketing strategy, don’t forget the effect of networking. The mental health professionals industry thrives on professional connections. Attend conferences, be a part of local and online groups, collaborate with peers to run workshops, and so on. Even as you add value to the community with these activities, don’t forget to use them to bring in leads and referrals.
3. Struggle with on-time-payment
Challenge: Again, one of the most common therapy business challenges is that most therapy and counselling practitioners struggle to get payments on time from their clients. They are often hesitant to ask for payments, fearing that early in their career they would be typecast as businessmen rather than therapists or counsellors—something that’s perceived as opposed to their professional ethics. But to get the therapy business going, they need a steady flow of funds to cover overheads, licenses, etc. Also, like any other businesses, it’s essential to have a dedicated fund for financial eventualities and unplanned expenses.
Solution: As the American author and talk show host Mika Brzezinski said, “don’t apologize for asking for what you deserve”, be unequivocal right from the beginning while talking about money and the business side of your practice. While it might be your passion to help others in distress, it’s equally important to understand that you have a business to run and you need money for that. Make sure your clients are making an informed decision before they get into a contract with you. One way to do that is to require payment before the session, as a confirmation.
Running a healthy therapy business has its own sets of challenges. With experience and a lot of trial and error, however, you can overcome these therapy business challenges and establish your practice and help it thrive.
Sources: Lifeproficiency, Psychreg, Positivepsychology
1. How to grow your therapy practice?
Some of the tried and tested methods to grow your therapy practice are:
- Getting professional referrals from doctors or other practitioners
- Reinvest the money you generate from your practice in the business
- Set up clear and strict no-show and last-minute cancellation policies
- Be accessible to your clients
2. What is the most challenging thing about being a therapist?
While helping individuals in distress and getting visible results is fulfilling, a number of challenges come piggybacking with it. Some of them are:
- Emotional drainage resulting out of dealing with clients on a daily basis
- Compassion fatigue resulting from feeling of empathy with the client
- An erratic work schedule
- The pressure of engaging clients
- Feeling of professional isolation due to lack of interaction other than with clients
3. What are the problems faced by a counsellor?
Some of the problems faced by counsellors are:
- Striking a balance between feeling empathetic towards their client and remain non-judgmental at the same time
- Dealing with reluctant clients
- The cost and effort of keeping themselves updated
- Showing patience consistently
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