Finding the Way Forward
As I look back at those early months of my practice, for this blog series, I find myself asking how I knew what to do next. After some reflecting, I realize that I was soaking myself in knowledge from an array of sources. In those early months, before I even sat down with my first client, I was asking questions to anyone who would listen. I had started going to meetings of a local professional organization, when I was still in the grad school. I benefited in getting the next-to-nothing student rate for my membership. Back then, I took advantage of those meetings by asking other private practice professionals about their practices. I used my affiliation with the Beginning Counselors of Florida Facebook group.
I talked to my supervisor and I talked to Deb, who I was renting office space from. But, one of the best resources I had was the Practice of the Practice Podcast, which I had been listening to since I got out of grad school. Some of the most valuable episodes were so targeted and simple with step-by-step instructions about how to get a private practice off the ground in just a few days. Although it took me much longer than that to get things started, the advice was clear and understandable. It really helped me push through the places I had absolutely no knowledge in.
Hanging My Virtual Shingle
Now that I had registered intern status with the state of Florida, was already seeing my clinical Supervisor and was all set with a place to see clients, the next step was to hang my virtual shingle. Since I had yet to build my website, the best place to get the word out about my services was through Psychology Today. I was made aware of this site when I was still in grad school. For $30 a month, you will be listed on a rotating priority basis with all of the other clinicians in your area. Not a bad deal even for someone who had yet to make a dime in this field. I carefully crafted my Psychology Today profile and added pictures of myself and my office space. I asked my wife and a few others to read it over and let me know what they thought. After a few revisions, I felt like it was about as good as it was going to get.
After time, I learned that my Psychology Today profile was going to require constant tweaking. This as I learned how to better target my ideal client. One resource I found extremely useful was “How to write a BadAss Psychology Today Profile” by Laura Long. She appeared on a podcast and talked through the process of making the most of the space that Psychology Today gives you to reach your ideal client. I really noticed a spike in the calls from that platform after making those changes.
Claiming My Business
Psychology Today is an almost necessary evil when advertising your practice. This is because it is so well known among therapists and clients. Also, their results are always at, or near, the top of the organic results in a Google search. There are, however, several free ways to get your business noticed on the net. Probably the most important way, other than building a website for your business, is to create a Google business page.
Your Google business page is what allows your business to have a legitimate presence on the net. And, is what will show up in local searches for providers. Getting your business set up with a Google business page is pretty easy. It does, however, require a verification that is generally done via a post card. Google sends this to your business address containing a code that you will plug into your Google business account. This is so that your business can show up as “verified”. This process can be a headache, as I would soon find out.
It took me several weeks to finally get my business verified. This was because every time I would tell Google to send me the postcard, I would wait and it would never show up. Each time the process fails, you have to wait at least two weeks before requesting another code. I finally got my “verified” status – after giving up on the postcard process – over the phone. After a long, difficult process of finding the right person to talk to.
A Healthy Start
There are a number of ways to get the word out about your new practice. But, a Psychology Today profile and Google business page are two of the most essential. I would eventually list my business with at least two dozen more sites, but this was done over the next year or more, as I became aware of these sites. My next major endeavor was to start building my website, which is probably the most essential vehicle for driving clients to your practice. I will talk about that process in my next post.
Richard Tifft, M.A. is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern specializing in Marriage Counseling in Clearwater, FL. Richard started his practice right out of Grad school and has a passion for helping couples in distress rediscover their lost connection. Richard has been through all of the training required to be certified as an Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist pending completion of supervision and licensure.