The Best Way to Grow your Psychotherapy Private Practice

Therapists in the Bay Area have a crucial role in our society. People need a trusted professional to be able to listen to them without judgement. I believe therapy is needed now more than ever with all of the pressure, stress, and expectations of our society.

Practicing therapists have gone through years of schooling to receive their graduate degrees and then have to obtain at least 3000 hours of supervision before getting licensed.

Throughout this process therapeutic skills are learned but one glaring hole in training is in the business development side of building a psychotherapy business. Of course not all licensed therapists open a private practice business, but for those that do it can be a daunting task.

In speaking with many therapists about their businesses I notice one common thread of those that have a full and thriving practice.

They network with other psychotherapists.

Seems simple enough, but it’s not just a one time or sporadic occurrence of networking. These therapists with thriving practices build relationships with therapists on a consistent basis and make it a priority to do it every single month.

Does that sound a bit overwhelming? Especially for you more introvertive therapists?

Well it doesn’t have to be overwhelming because the thing is that even the therapists that are more introvertive say they enjoy the networking with other psychotherapists because a) there’s usually similar values so there is more of a connection when networking and b) they do one on one meetings rather than large group meetings

What are some strategies to make networking a priority?

Have a goal in mind in terms of the number of therapists you want to meet each month. Say you start with 3 networking meetings per month for coffee or a meal. I would prefer coffee over a meal and eating caramels over coffee since eating caramels is just as arbitrary as drinking coffee (from the movie “Good Will Hunting”, I know you have seen it if you are therapist!) I say coffee over a meal so that there is less distractions and more ability to connect with the therapist. You can also decide to meet each other in your respective offices if you are on a tight budget and do not want to pay anything for networking. If you do invite somebody to meet, I would suggest paying for their coffee or tea. Back to the strategy. I would make it priority of hitting your goal for each month and reaching out to therapists in your network and also on directories such as Psychology Today, Good Therapy, or Theravive.

If you are in an area that does not have many psychotherapists then I would suggest a video call or phone call.

How should I approach the networking meeting or call?

I received the best networking advice a friend that told me to focus on the acronym L.O.F.A. which stands for

Love: What does that person love in their life? Do they have a spouse, partner, dog, kids?

Occupation: How is their practice going? What’s going well for them? What is something they want to stretch themselves in their business?

Fun: What are the person’s hobbies? What do they like to do when they are not working?

Agenda: Talking about yourself and the above things in your own life when asked

You notice it’s a split of 75% about them and 25% about you. I would even say it should be less than 25% about you when networking and more like 10% about you.

Do not make it about you. Make it about the person across the way from you or on the other line. This is not just about you getting referrals it’s about truly connecting with an individual. Many therapists have these listening qualities already so it is just about applying what you do with your clients in business networking (of course you will be able to self disclose much more in this atmosphere)

Who should I network with?

Here are some suggestions:

Network with people in your local area that are in different speciality areas than you. If your main focus is on addiction then network with people that focus on anxiety.

Network with people just outside of your regional area that are in your own specialty. If you do not want to drive, then a phone/video call may be best option. This is potential to connect with people that may refer you patients that are just outside their area in the same specialty. You will be able to refer clients to them as well.

Network with people of the opposite sex since some males may not want to see certain female clients and vice versa for female therapists not wanting to see certain male clients.

Another bonus to creating networking relationships:

Since it is against APA’s ethics codes to ask for reviews or testimonials, if you create a connection with another therapist and they refer you patients, then it is not against the code to ask other therapists for a review on sites like Yelp.com which is a great way to get more clients free of cost.

Many therapists receive negative online reviews more than positive because of this rule that protects the work you do with your clients as well as client confidentiality. The people that do review usually come from an emotional state and the reviews can become negative.

Reach out to me and let me know what action you will take after reading this article. My email address is brian@brianjkang.com

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B.J. Kang