Succeeding as a mental health professional does not merely involve effectively serving the needs of your clients. Even if this is your main priority, if you’re building your own practice, you’ll soon learn that succeeding in this field also involves being a strategic business owner. Applying basic business tactics is key to ensuring your practice grows and thrives.
One such tactic involves cultivating and marketing a brand for your practice. Your brand should be a genuine and honest reflection of your skills, qualifications, professional, and overall approach to therapy. The following tips will help you cultivate an effective brand properly:
Focus on your niche
Do you tend to work with specific types of clients or clients who are struggling with specific issues? For example, some therapists primarily work with younger clients. Others focus on working with clients who face certain challenges, such as addiction, PTSD, etc.
Is your practice specialized in any way? If so, account for this when developing your brand. You want to be sure that your brand appeals to the types of potential clients you are best equipped to serve.
The specific way in which you account for your niche when growing your brand will depend on your area of specialization. Again, if you work with younger clients and patients, although the parents or guardians of your patients might be the ones most likely to research your practice when deciding if you are the right therapist for them, you could still focus on using compassionate and warm language in your branded content. This will express that you strive to be the type of therapist that young patients will feel comfortable opening up to.
On the other hand, maybe you work primarily with adults overcoming trauma or addiction. If so, it might be wise to use your branded content (which may consist of your website copy, blogs, social media posts, podcasts, vlogs, and more) to explain how you leverage specific approaches to therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy) to achieve results.
There is no one right approach to developing your brand. It’s likely you will continue to learn which branding strategies do and do not work as you experiment with different tactics. Generally, though, you will find that developing branded content will feel like a more natural process if you always consider how your content can reflect your specialized qualifications.
Stay active online
Developing a brand that represents your identity and values is an important task if you are a mental health professional. This is particularly true if you have your own practice. Your brand will communicate to potential clients important information about who you are and whether you are the right mental health professional to serve their needs.
However, it is vital to remember that defining your brand is just one step. A strong brand will fail to help you attract clients and grow your practice if no one encounters or is aware of your brand.
There are a number of ways you can leverage your brand for marketing purposes. In the digital age, staying active on social media and maintaining a website through which you regularly post content are essential tactics.
Consistently posting on social media and updating a blog or podcast on your website will give you regular opportunities to advertise your brand. Just remember, if your goal when posting online is to share your brand with your target audience, you must ensure that all the content you post and share reflects your brand properly.
For example, compassion may be a core element of your practice’s brand. Consider this when posting on social media or your website. If your posts include language that comes across as short or terse, you might not be expressing the compassionate values you want your brand to represent.
(It is also, of course, essential that you prioritize client confidentiality when posting online. Don’t share any information or details that could all be interpreted as private client information.)
Identify your communication style
The above point highlights a general principle to keep in mind: your brand should be rooted in your communication style as a therapist.
Different therapists have different ways of communicating with clients. Some therapists are very direct and blunt. They believe that this approach is key to helping a client accept their own involvement in the struggles they face. Therapists who employ this style of communication may find that their clients are more likely to achieve their personal and mental health goals if they are willing to confront their weaknesses in order to directly and intentionally correct them.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with this communication style if a responsible mental health professional leverages it effectively. However, some mental health professionals communicate with their clients differently. Some therapists find that it is easier for them to cultivate a sense of trust in the client-therapist relationship if they communicate in a warm and inviting style.
Other therapists focus on expressing a sense of curiosity when they speak with clients. They might realize they have an easier time getting clients to open up about what’s bothering them if they ask questions in a manner that implies they genuinely have an interest in the answers their clients give.
Again, if a communication style yields results and does not cause harm to a client, then it may be valid. There is not necessarily a single communication style that is ideal for all mental health professionals.
When developing your brand, though, you must be honest and objective in your assessment of your communication style. The way in which you literally speak with clients should manifest in the way your brand “communicates” with your audience. Understanding this will help you choose branded language (in emails, advertisements, and various other forms of branded content) that embodies your values.
Remember, your main goal when developing a brand for your mental health practice is to be authentic. Your brand should tell a new client who you are and what you stand for. It’s therefore vital that the messages your brand sends about you and your practice is accurate. These tips will help you develop and grow a brand that makes the right impression.