Do you feel that your lived experiences should or shouldn’t be brought into your speciality? Have you felt nervous about straying too far from your old niche even though new things are interesting to you? How can you develop your niche so that you don’t lose your old clients while attracting new ones?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to find your niche with Susanna Guarino, LMHC.
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Meet Susanna Guarino
Susanna Guarino is an LMHC in private practice licensed in NY, RI, FL and AZ who specializes in religious trauma, spiritual abuse recovery, and couples therapy. She works with clients who have been harmed by high-control groups or narcissistic leaders who sought power and control by manipulating and shaming followers rather than helping them. She also works with adult survivors of purity culture. Susanna offers individual, couples, and group therapy online and in person in Rochester, NY.
In this Podcast
- Mindsets that get in the way of specializing
- Lived experience in therapy
- How to start identifying your specialty
- Susanna’s advice to private practitioners
Mindsets that get in the way of specializing
1 – Anxiety and fear around niching: many therapists feel nervous to niche down because they worry that it could lead to them having fewer clients. This is not necessarily the case.
2 – Fearing boredom: some therapists may be nervous to niche down since they wouldn’t want to build their whole business around a certain type of client that they think they could get bored of working with over many years.
3 – Impostor syndrome: you may feel uncertain about working with a certain type of client, or that you are not experienced “enough” to specialize in them, so keeping an open playing field feels more comfortable or safe to you professionally.
What I learned from my own story is that when I chose a niche is that it didn’t totally work out and it didn’t make me happy, so I changed it a little bit – and now I’m happier, and there is still plenty of room for experimenting in the future. It’s not like you have to know right away but it is so useful to have a niche in private practice and to be in touch with what excites and sparks joy for you. (Susanna Guarino)
Even though you may have suffered from these unhelpful mindsets before, remember that they are not necessarily the truth.
Allow yourself the space and freedom to let your professional career develop as you develop as a therapist. You can niche down, and then you can later change it too. It’s okay to do!
Lived experience in therapy
Many therapists are cautious to self-disclose anything about themselves in the therapy room or are explicitly taught not to.
It’s part of the culture of valuing credentials and training more so than lived experience because it gives therapists, among other things, a neutral platform to address and handle the client’s issues.
Our culture really [values] credentials, education, and training which we all have as licensed therapists, and not totally valuing lived experience as much … But, you know, one way to become an expert in something is to experience it yourself and I think it’s okay for therapists to own their own expertise, experiences, and how those experiences help them to help the clients that they want to help. (Susanna Guarino)
You can find a way to marry your lived experience with your educational expertise to find your best-fit niche if that is what you want to do.
If you have valuable life experience that you can bring into the therapy room ethically and safely, for you and the client, then consider working with a supervisor or a coach on how you could do it.
How to start identifying your specialty
- Visualize your ideal client: think about a client that you enjoy working within a journaling practice.
- Imagine them looking for therapists on Psychology Today and then how you could “meet” them there through your profile.
- What would be the “last straw” for your ideal client that you could put into your copy to let your ideal client know that you understand where they are coming from?
Susanna’s advice to private practitioners
The niching process doesn’t have to be stressful! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and it doesn’t have to be perfect right away because it can take years to find your true niche. Let go of perfectionism and let it be freeing and playful too.
Sponsors Mentioned in this episode:
- Save the date for Level Up Week: March 11-14, 2024!
- There is no reason that you should be worrying about payroll. Do it right, head on over to www.gusto.com/joe!
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- Visit Good Earth counseling, read Susanna’s blog, and see her Alma and Psychology Today accounts.
Email Joe at [email protected] to suggest guests for the show
Check out these additional resources:
Apply to work with us — a decision-making matrix for your next steps
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners who are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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