Why your brand as a therapist is essential for your private practice wellbeing
If you've ever had a favorite client, you know how satisfying it feels to have a real connection with another person. And how good it feels knowing that your client is a good fit for your practice. You look forward to your sessions together and you get to rejoice when you see positive outcomes in your clients' lives.
In contrast, when a client turns out not to be a very good fit for your practice, the work becomes harder. Your work satisfaction and morale suffer and you end up dreading the appointment time with that client.
If you think that it's just a matter of luck and that the compatibility with your clients is accidental, you're not entirely correct.
It's true, you can't control who's going to contact you and book a session, but you can control who you attract to your practice.
You see, people work with people whom they know like, and trust.
If you think about that favorite client of yours, you'll notice that they like and trust you. They perceive you as a person who can help them, they trust your process.
Their perception of you IS your brand as a therapist.
And your perception is in your total control. You're in charge of the way you present yourself to the world. Your values, opinion, expertise, language, and demeanor are all part of your authentic brand. Your brand. And when you control and cultivate it, you're likely to attract your favorite client over and over again.
But without this control, you'll be at the mercy of people's imagination and prejudice.
What's the main problem of not having control of your brand as a therapist?
You'll not be able to create the affinity that people seek. Brand affinity is one of the main reasons people like to buy products and services. In therapy, people need to feel comfortable. They need to feel safe so they can be vulnerable in your presence. Your clients need to trust you and your brand is there to support that trust and safety.
You'll have to rely on external elements like your hourly fee, insurance, and specific services. Having many clients is considered to be a "good problem to have", but in reality, it doesn't always lead to job satisfaction. It can even lead to professional burnout. When you have clients strictly because they're willing to pay your fee and not because they feel an affinity to you and your practice, you will have to either invest more money and effort in constantly attracting new clients or raising your fees to sustain your business. Cultivating your brand will help you attract clients who will want a long-lasting relationship with you and will likely recommend you to the people they know.
You'll have to invest more money in marketing tools and tactics. Like the previous point about relying on external elements, a lack of a strong brand will create confusion in your marketing and will force you to rely on tactics and tools more. Instead of knowing exactly how you're being perceived and what's your marketing message is, you'll be trying to figure out which new marketing tools to use to fill your practice or maintain its growth.
You'll run the risk of getting lost in the crowd. Mental Health providers are in high demand and are expected to remain in high demand until 2029. That means that more people will want to become counselors and therapists. And while it's a positive outlook on your profession, it will also create more competition for your practice. It's very hard to stand out from your competition when you don't have a strong brand. As a therapist, your brand will be the main reason why a person clicks on your listing vs. your colleague's. That's just the nature of people's behavior online. Online, it only takes a few minutes (if not seconds) to decide if you like someone or not.
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You can also start asking your favorite clients a few questions about their experience of working with you. If you're worried about being intrusive, you needn't worry. Chances are that your clients will appreciate your attention to "client service" and will gladly answer your questions. You can start by asking:
Are they happy working with you overall?
What do they particularly enjoy during your sessions?
How would they describe the time you spend together?
Despite being simple, these questions can offer a lot of insight into your brand. They can show you how you're being perceived and how you make your clients feel.
Your brand as a therapist is more than your logo, colors, and website. In fact, if you want to create a good logo and an effective website, creating a strong brand will help you make these processes much easier. Your brand is essential for the quality and wellbeing of your business because it will direct you to work with people who bring joy to your work and increase your professional satisfaction.
Jeff Bezos famously said: "Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room."
What are your clients saying about you when they leave your sessions?