24 November 2009

2 Ways Therapist Training Sabotages Your Marketing

I have a lot of psychotherapists for coaching clients, and I'm seeing an interesting pattern of learned self-sabotage in how counselors tend to approach marketing. It's ironic that we gain a deep knowledge of mental disorders in graduate school, but nothing about the psychology of what motivates people to seek help.

Most therapists are trained to resist providing answers when clients ask for advice. Unfortunately, that carries over into how therapists try to market, and it doesn't work for getting clients.

When people are in emotional distress, they want to stop feeling bad, sad, mad, out of control, incapable, scared, or hopeless. Our marketing needs to acknowledge how they feel and provide a belief that there is a solution that will help them end, overcome, lighten, or otherwise change their felt distress.

This is what motivates them to seek help. This is what our marketing must say.

Secondly, almost all therapists are schooled to keep their personal lives separate and secret from clients. Sometimes that's wise, if you work with dangerously unstable populations. But most of the time that non-disclosure rule prevents the essential know you / like you / trust you factor in marketing that brings people to you door.

Recitation of credentials is not the same as self-disclosure. Especially when given in the impersonal and pseudo-professional 3rd person style of talking about ourselves as if we were someone else, our credentials can come across as cold and distancing. A listing of degrees, awards, and continuing education with trainers no client has heard of is more intimidating than connecting.

Instead, self-disclosure for marketing tells the story of why you are interested in working with a particular type of client with a specific type of problem. It presents you as having your own life touched in some way by something similar. It creates rapport and trust.

Feeling rapport and trust motivates prospective clients to select YOU out of the five dozen other therapists in your zip code.

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