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Marketing Yourself as a Counsellor

Fiona Melvin-Farr, Chartered Marketeer and Marketing Consultant to Physis Scotland is co-facilitating our CPD workshop ‘Setting up in Private Practice’ in February.  Fiona’s training will be focusing on how to market your counselling practice. In this blog, Fiona shares a few marketing tips.

As counselling and psychotherapy practitioners, many of you will be self-employed and effectively competing with colleagues both in TA and from other modalities, to attract new clients.  You may not always think about yourself and the services you offer as a ‘business’ – but you are.

Marketing is a very broad term and does not just include promoting your services.  A basic model in marketing is known as the 4Ps of the ‘Marketing Mix’ covering ‘Product’, ‘Price’, ‘Place’ and ‘Promotion’.  This can be a helpful way to start thinking about how you might approach your marketing.

Briefly, what are the 4Ps and how might they apply to your counselling practice or ‘business’?

  1. Product (or services). How will you define what services you are offering to clients? Do you have a target audience?  For example, are you a specialist in particular fields, such as bereavement, childhood trauma or anxiety?  When seeking your services potential clients may search online directories and web search engines (Google) to find a counsellor who has experience in their need – so identifying and marketing your niche specialisms can attract new clients and give them comfort that you will understand and support their issues.  Some clients maybe attracted by your modality, but for others they may not initially understand the differences between say TA and Gestalt – they will just be focussing on what their problem is and whether you have expertise to help them.

  2. The amount to charge per client is often a challenge for practitioners and for many people in business. How do we value our expertise and what are we offering? What will the market (or potential clients) be willing to pay?  Factors to consider can include:

  3. What is your market? Is it purely private client and if so, are you aiming at any demographic or people from higher income or lower income brackets?

  4. Where do you source your clients? Do you have referrals from charities, NHS etc?

  5. What do your colleagues (competitors) in the same geographic area charge?

  6. As a self-employed counsellor, you are only paid for the hours you are with clients – but you need to factor in that you will have admin time, rental of a room and other costs to cover.

  7. The environment in that you consult with your clients will be so important.  The client they will wish to visit you in a safe, warm, comfortable space – that is easy to locate.  You also need to feel safe and secure.  Will you meet clients in your own home? If so, do you have a space that is separate and private from the rest of the family?  If you are renting a space – how much can you afford per session and does it meet the above requirements?  It might be beneficial to rent a room that provides therapy and similar services.  For example, if you are in Edinburgh, Physis Scotland has spaces available for hire.

  8. Yes, finally we look at what many people think of as ‘marketing’. Your potential clients need to know you are available, what you offer and how they can contact you.  When you first start out, your funds and your own resources (time) may be limited.  What marketing tactics might you consider?

  9. Website – a simple one/two-page website can be a great place to start and there are basic web builder platforms that can guide you on this. Or seek the support of a professional web developer (check credentials and get a quote).  Keep the copy on the website short and concise, focussing on the needs of the client in the opening paragraph. Include a short resume of your skills and areas of expertise – but avoid overwhelming them with jargon. Have clear contact details, how you work with clients and costs.  The website will help you to have a presence on directories and web search engines.

  10. Social media – there are a plethora of platforms. Think about your target demographic and where they might be hanging out.  Which platform do you feel most comfortable on?  Just stick to one or maybe two – don’t try and be everywhere as you will struggle to keep on posting.  If you are on Facebook, set up a business profile, that is distinct from your personal profile. Ideas for content include what services you offer, how you have helped someone (without mentioning the client’s name), a testimonial, your story – why did you decide to become a counsellor etc.  Be authentically you and approachable in tone and content.  Don’t forget to have a link to your website and how to contact you in the page profile.

  11. Online directories. Are you a member of UKATA? Have you completed their directory profile?  What other professional directories can you utilise?  Are there other online counselling or healthcare-related directories or FB groups that you can join?

Fiona Melvin-Farr will be joining Fiona Firman PTSTA, Director of Training at Physis Scotland to co-facilitate the CPD ‘Setting up in Private Practice’ on 5th February 2023.  Spaces are still available.

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