Let your web visitors hear your voice. The problems caused by lack of voice contact can be offset by including an audio message on your website, something quite easy to do these days. When visitors find Nancy's site on relationships, for example, they can click on a button and hear her welcoming them—which helps them begin to feel connected with her.
Other Ways to Use Technology to Build Your Practice
Consider recording your community presentations and offering them for free or for sale on your website. You can burn a CD of your talk on your computer and give it out to referral sources or at a health fair. Or you might want to consider creating a relaxation CD as a marketing tool. Most computers will allow you to record directly into the computer. You can offer online assessments or self-tests that help people decide whether counseling is right for them.
What about taking credit cards as payment for psychotherapy services? Therapists used to send out monthly bills. Then the ceremonial handing over of the check after each session took over (still probably the commonest mode of payment). But now, in a society awash with credit cards, therapists, too, have the option of accepting plastic. There may be reasons not to go this route, however. I recently received an e-mail from a colleague, saying, "I've purposely chosen to not accept credit cards. My thinking has been that it is not healthy for clients to go into debt to pay for sessions. But I am open to your ideas."
This practitioner has a point, of course. Many people do need therapy, but perhaps can't afford the weekly outlay, so the temptation is there simply to charge what they can't afford and pay the piper farther down the line. Is it a good idea, or really ethical, to let them run up debt?
In the first place, of course, paying by credit card doesn't mean they can't afford it—perhaps, like me, they prefer to charge most of their expenses and pay in full at the end of every month, rather than write multiple checks. Beyond this, however, I believe that if we don't offer credit-card options, some people may not get the treatment they need. So it's better to give them a way to pay for it over time. Also, many clients ask me if they can charge their session on their credit cards so they can get reward points or airline miles. There's also the added advantage for us that the financial arrangements are really between the client and the credit card company, which means we can focus solely on giving our clients the best possible treatment, and not worry about issues of payment.