By Rich Simon These days, many noble and once well-remunerated occupations—like journalism and magazine publishing—seem in danger of declining into economic irrelevancy. And, not to unduly shock anybody reading this, the financial prospects of therapists aren’t looking too hot now, either. Not only are we told there are way too many of us—600,000 mental health professionals nationwide—for the population to sustain, but managed care has done its best to shrivel whatever pittance we used to be able to count on for our services.
On top of this economic reality, therapists must come to grips with the fact that their client pool has changed, and changed dramatically. The old idea of therapy that many of us were taught to practice seems completely anachronistic in today’s culture. For most people who spend their days zipping at warp speed from stimulus to stimulus (and thought to thought), traditional therapy—the prospect of spending years in weekly 50-minute sessions—sounds ridiculous, if not flat-out crazy. Who has the time? Who has the money? Who cares?
Many therapists still don’t get this. They know business is down, but they don’t know what to do about it. So besides maybe putting up a website, they carry on as if it were 1980-something, and today’s potential clients are just like the clients who sought therapy three or more decades ago.
It is becoming increasingly clear that people seeking therapy today are not the supplicants of yesteryear, who more or less meekly acquiesced to the basic rules of the therapy game: They came on time, they didn’t tell the therapist what to do, and they didn’t ask embarrassing questions like, “What can you offer me and how long will it take?”
In contrast, today’s therapy consumers are likely to “interview” different therapists before the first visit. They announce ahead of time what problem they want to work on and how fast they want it resolved (often within a session or two). And, if they don’t like the answers or results they get, they walk, knowing full well that there are plenty of other fish in the therapy sea.
The crucial question that this issue poses is how exactly our practices need to change if we want to continue doing therapy for a living. Whatever our allegiance to our cherished theories and models, the time has come to reconsider how to attract and keep clients long enough to get the process off the ground and running. We must face the fact that in an age where virtually everything is for sale, we have to learn to sell what we can offer.
In our new webcast series Expand Your Practice, six therapy practice development experts are ready to share their advice and solutions on how to build and maintain a thriving therapy practice in these uncertain times. In just six hours you’ll learn what integrated healthcare means for therapists, how to effectively brand your practice, what digital alternatives to traditional therapy can do for you, how to create multiple streams of income by doing what you already do, whether a career path as a coach is something to consider, and so much more.
The current mental health marketplace may seem like a scary new frontier, but with some strategic business planning and a little entrepreneur saavy, it’s apparent that rumors of the demise of private practice have been greatly exaggerated.
Expand Your Practice
New Opportunities In Today’s Mental Health Marketplace
All Sessions Available Now!
Click here for full course details.