The Business of Therapy


The Business of Therapy

Web Marketing on a Shoestring: The fundamentals of starting—or growing—a practice

By Elizabeth Doherty Thomas

November/December 2009


A year ago, when my husband, Mike, graduated with a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, he decided that he didn't want to pursue the traditional route of getting an agency job before starting his practice. My father, a therapist with more than 30 years experience and a well-known figure in the field, insisted that it wasn't possible to leap into private practice without first establishing a local reputation with agency work, but Mike was determined to try. The recession made it easier to explore an alternative path: there were no jobs to be found! So the question confronting Mike—and me, a stay-at-home mom with a preschooler and a baby—was whether a beginning therapist could market his practice through a website on a shoestring budget and attract enough clients to get launched.

By the time he graduated, Mike had spent a couple of years putting in 16-hour days taking classes, working, and finishing his internships. Exhausted by the effort of finishing his degree and eager to begin his career, he didn't have a lot of energy to market a new practice. That responsibility fell to me, someone with a bit of web savvy, who loves the challenge of being an entrepreneur and experimenting with new marketing ideas. It didn't hurt that while Mike had been busy with graduate school, I—entirely self-taught—had launched two national therapy websites and succeeded in figuring out some of the mysteries of the Internet.

Once I'd helped Mike develop the…

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