Increase Client Referrals and Grow Your Psychotherapy Practice
How do some clinicians create such a successful private practice while others continually struggle? Well, there is no simple answer to this question but you can be sure that consistent referrals are a significant contributor. How do clinicians successfully receive a steady flow of incoming referrals? Again, there is no simple answer to this question either. However, with a little perseverance, investment, effort, and resourcefulness, you’re on your way to increasing referrals and growing your psychotherapy practice.
Have you ever heard that the best advertising is word of mouth? It has the potential to spread faster than any marketing or advertising campaign. I once had a client tell me that I had a “following” in the town where she resided. I chuckled and took it as a compliment. After further thought, I realized that this was a result of a long-term strategy to increase client referrals. This client as well as many others has referred their friends, neighbors, fellow church-goers, and the list goes on. The following recommendations may seem obvious but you would be surprised at how many clinicians do not practice these principles:
Return existing and new client phone calls/voice mails within 24 business hours. I can’t tell you how many clients have complained about previous therapists failing to return their calls in a somewhat timely manner or at all.
Try to only cancel sessions rarely and when completely necessary. Many clients appreciate the consistency of a therapist who provides weekly sessions with little interruption. The therapist is seen as responsible and reliable.
Be as flexible as possible when scheduling clients. Working around a client’s busy work or family schedule is appreciated and more likely to generate referrals than expecting the client to work around the clinician’s schedule.
Put your best foot forward in every session. Remember that your clients invest time and money to participate in sessions. Their time is valuable and so is yours. Make the most of it.
Don’t push the client to schedule again or appear desperate for more sessions. If you do not need to clinically schedule a particular client every week, allow the client to decide when they would like to come in for the next session. There is nothing more off-putting than a human service provider in desperate need to make money or “increase business”.
Of course, the bottom line is often the client’s relationship with the clinician as well as progress in treatment. Identify treatment goals at the beginning of treatment and measure progress every four to six weeks or so. This is clinically sound practice and helps the client feel like they are working towards established goals. Many people fear therapy because it appears so open-ended and they do not know what to expect. It is our job as clinicians to provide the client with realistic expectations in therapy. The specifics surrounding realistic expectations can also be incorporated into the consent for treatment form. If you are unfamiliar with any of the concepts described in this article or require further information, you may want to seek continuing education for counselors or social worker continuing education. Realistic expectations in the psychotherapeutic relationship are often incorporated into Law and Ethics CEU course material or Ethics CEU course material.