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  • Writer's pictureAvivit Fisher

9 Marketing Strategies for Therapists: Reaching Private Pay Clients

You made the decision to start or transition to a private pay practice. Now what?

How do you go about attracting new clients without relying on insurance panels and an existing referral source?

For a practicing therapist who wants to reach private pay clients, understanding how to promote and market your practice is crucial.

9 Top Marketing Strategies for Therapists: Reaching Private Pay Clients

In this article, I'll go over nine marketing strategies for therapists you can use to make your services known. You'll learn how to use digital and in-person resources to increase your client base and boost engagement in your therapy practice.

Although using all the strategies listed will help you build your private pay caseload quicker, you don't need to use all of them at once. It's more important to choose one or two that fit your schedule and practice best and execute them consistently.

Let's begin.

Offer Free Info Sessions or Workshops

One of the simplest ways to attract private pay therapy clients is by doing free events. As a therapist, you can start promoting your services by offering free workshops or talks that cater to your niche.

It may seem like you'd be giving away your time, but all you'd be giving a small sample of your expertise to entice potential clients. Events like these allow people to learn more about you and your services. This will help them determine if you’re the right therapist for them before committing to an appointment.

You can host these sessions online or in person on your own. You can also partner with your local community, another provider, or an organization and attract more people with their help.

For example, when I decided to work with therapists, I reached out to my local Psychological Organization chapter and offered a free workshop for its members. From one event, I ended up with 3 new clients. Not bad, right?

It's important to remember to use those events to the best of your advantage and create opportunities to stay in touch with the attendees. You can do it by:

  • Having a sign-up sheet for people to leave their contact information.

  • Giving away useful handouts with a special offer, like a free consultation.

  • Giving away your business cards.

  • Offering a chance to book a consultation with you right then and there.

  • Doing a giveaway raffle to collect business cards.

Be straightforward or creative, but make sure to find a way for keeping in touch with the attendees after the event.

Increase Your Online Presence

Right now almost 80% of people search for health-related topics online. So there's a great chance that your potential clients will also start their search for therapy cruising the web.

With that in mind, having a strong online presence is crucial for attracting private pay therapy clients. For many therapists, it may also mean gathering the courage to be visible online through your professional website, online directories, and social media platforms.

Here're the steps you can take to increase your online presence:

  1. Create an effective brand-driven website. Your therapy website is your most important online asset. It's your 24/7 information hub, your salesperson, and your reception area. Having a website that represents your brand as a therapist and showcases your skills and expertise will allow people to get to know you better and schedule an appointment with you even when you're sleeping or on vacation. You can build your own website using Wix or WordPress, or hire a professional to build it for you. Companies like BrighterVision offer affordable monthly plans for building and hosting websites for therapists.

  2. List your practice in online directories. Listing your practice in online directories will offer you access to more people as well as help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). General online directories like Google Business Profile or Apple Maps will help you appear in local searches. And listings in professional directories, like Psychology Today, will help you attract people who're actively looking for a therapist.

  3. Use social media. While social media marketing is a long game and will not attract immediate results, it's a great way to build up your brand as a therapist. To start, choose the platform that makes the most sense for your niche and your time availability. Make sure to create a profile with a good-quality picture and a captivating bio. Add links that lead to your booking page and create valuable posts for people in your audience.

marketing strategies for therapists: Expand Organic Reach with paid Ads

If you want to attract private pay clients to your practice fast, consider paying for advertising. When you pay for an ad, you essentially pay for the right to appear in front of many people at once. For a therapy practice, it may look like getting in front of people who're actively looking for therapy services or interested in the subject of therapy.

With paid ads, you can target a specific group of people or a certain location and create a message that's most attractive to them. And although you can pay for printed advertising, the most effective way for you to reach clients is digital advertising.

Here are some of the most popular digital ad sources:

  1. Google Ads. Google is dominating the search engine market. In fact, its share was estimated at 91.88% as of June 2022. That makes it an obvious place for people to start their online search. In addition, Google Ads is a robust platform that allows you to target specific keywords. The downside to google ads is that they can be costly and the interface complicated to use.

  2. Social Media ads. Advertising on social media can be much more cost-effective. Facebook has an easy-to-use ads manager that can help you set up an ad in minutes. Having said that, people don't usually search for therapy on social media so these ads are best for promoting a free event or a lead magnet for your email marketing.

  3. Other ads. Besides Google and social media platforms, there're other valuable opportunities for you to advertise online. You can use other people's platforms with an audience within your niche. Here're a few ideas to help you out: Podcast ads. Podcasts are a great way to reach an engaged audience. People listening to podcasts are paying attention for a prolonged period of time. This provides a great opportunity for you to bring their attention to your services. Local publications. If you want to reach people in your community, consider advertising with your local publications that have an online presence. Some publications will even offer you both print and digital ad space. Newsletter ads. Email newsletters have been growing in popularity again. Many people choose to read emails on specific topics to learn and expand their knowledge and expertise. You can place an ad in a newsletter that serves the same niche as you and reach a wide audience of captivated readers.

network and generate referrals

Because of the prevalent referral culture within the mental health space, networking should be your number one strategy. Creating meaningful relationships with other providers will help you generate referrals and support from your community.

Besides mental health providers, you can also network with other people to develop working relationships and strategic partnerships. Here's how you can approach networking to help you reach potential clients.

  1. Networking with other mental health providers. This is a no-brainer strategy, but it requires some finesse of execution. If you don't have an established relationship with a therapist that could be a good referral source for you, make an effort to connect first. Reach out and ask how you could support them and offer a meeting to get to know each other. So many therapists expect to get referrals without putting any effort into a relationship. Other providers' reputations are at stake every time they refer to someone else. Make it easy for them and let them get to know you first.

  2. Build relationships with strategic partners. Networking is not limited to mental health providers only. You can reach out to healthcare providers in your area as well as other business owners that serve people in your niche. Many physicians are already providing some form of mental health help, including prescription of medication. Having a hard time billing the insurance for this type of service, many would welcome having a therapist in their Rolodex they could refer to.


While there's no one perfect method to reaching private pay therapy clients, selecting one or a few strategies mentioned above can put you on a fast track to filling your caseload. If you're not used to marketing, you may feel unsure at first. But as the famous marketer Seth Godin said:

"Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. Marketing helps others become who they seek to become.”


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