Guest Blog Post Written By: Topsie VandenBosch, LMSW
In this age of social media where there is so much noise about online strategies that you “need” to be using in order to build your therapy practice as well as suggested platforms that you should be on in order to do that effectively, there are these lies that you did not even know existed that start creeping up. Before you know it, it can leave you feeling frozen, virtually invisible, and terrified of taking action and really putting yourself out there. I know..because it happened to me too. I want to talk about these top 5 lies, and help you feel a lot calmer and more sure of yourself, so that you aren’t feeling “stuck” in how to show up online, and effectively market your business!
Lie #1: Therapists are afraid that the “Ethics Board Police” Will Come After Them.
When put like that, it’s hilarious right? BUT it’s so true. I’ve been talking about this with some of my colleagues, and guess what the main consensus was? We blame graduate school. YUP. I said it. Obviously, on a serious note we have to take ownership of our own thoughts and behaviors, and blah blah blah, BUT, in graduate school, think of the messages that you received about practicing on your own. ETHICS, ETHICS, ETHICS. Which, granted, it’s good to follow your code of ethics for your professional licensure, et cetera et cetera, but this continuous messaging about adhering to ethics and making sure you practice in a way which aligns with your ethics can also create a message that you can’t trust yourself. And if you feel like you can’t trust yourself (and that the Ethics boogeyman is going to come for you) it doesn’t allow for you to feel confident or be able to serve the clients that are meant to come your way.
Specifically, in regards to social media, most professional licensure boards are reviewing and updating their code of ethics as things are changing, and from what I’m reading, they’re being realistic about the fact that social media is going to be one of the TOP ways to gain credibility in your practice. Think about it. Clients are going to therapy directories, searching for your Facebook business page or Instagram page, before calling you in most cases! They want to know YOU, see what you are all about, and want to know if you have the expertise to serve THEM. This is why it’s important to be on social media.
In saying that, I want to remind you to review your code of ethics as it pertains to your profession, always. HOWEVER, as long as you are not sharing personal information on social media that can identify or be tied back to a client, maintaining HIPAA compliance, not letting others know on social media who your clients are, YOU WILL BE FINE. No one is going to come after you!
The world needs what YOU have to offer.
Sharing areas of your expertise and perhaps even a bit about yourself (because, to be real, NO CLIENT WANTS TO MEET WITH A ROBOT.) There is an appropriate way to do this, where you are being authentic to who you are, and what your ideal client is looking for in a therapist. (Shameless plug: If you would like to learn more about this, I do offer business coaching services.) YOU WILL BE FINE. I promise. I trust you, and I trust that your goal is to do good and be good to the world and to the people you serve. Trust yourself. Trust that you will do no harm. And when you are in doubt, ONLY talk to other clinicians that get it, that currently market themselves online, and that do it well. It will do you no good to talk to clinicians who are not in your shoes, or can’t imagine using social media to market themselves. You’ll end up with more anxiety then what you came to them with and that’s doing yourself a disservice. So, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. The world needs what you have. Your clients need you and don’t even know it yet.
Lie #2: Therapists believe that they’ll appear “vain” on social media.
I’m gonna call BULL CRAP on that. The reason? Do you feel that way when you post your picture on therapist directories such as Psychology Today, whether it’s your headshot, or that picture that you cropped yourself out of from your family Christmas or vacation? (Ok, hopefully NOT this, please go get professional headshots done, please and thank you.) No, my guess is that you don’t, because you might see that as a marketing tool for your ideal client to hopefully find you. So, guess what? SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOMPLISHES THE SAME THING. It’s a marketing tool as well. You’re not going to appear vain, the only person thinking that is you. As long as you provide value and context for your clients, that is truly what they care about.
In addition to being a clinician, I’m also a Mindset Business Coach for female entrepreneurs, and on my Instagram account, I post a lot of pictures of myself. I mix and match this with quotes, and other motivational content, but my audience responds well to pictures of ME. Not pictures of my notebook, pens, or planner. ME. The reason? People are craving connection. And they want to see YOU. The person behind the therapy practice. So, I’m giving you permission to post away. Get some good headshots and lifestyle shots done by your local photographer. And rest assured, that no one except you, and maybe some other therapists who aren’t in this same mindset, are thinking that your posts are vain. And guess what? That’s ok, because those other therapists aren’t your ideal client anyways 😊
Lie #3: Therapists are discouraged from joining the social media space because they believe that the online space is too saturated already.
This just isn’t true. The reason for that is because do you think that about the profession you chose? Probably, but you decided to become a therapist anyway, right? Why? Because you didn’t care. And you knew that the world needed what you had to offer. Plus, no one is YOU. The same goes for the online space. As of 2016, there are 7.42 billion people in the world. Newsflash: every market is saturated! That doesn’t mean that you don’t go out there and make a difference. There is a client waiting online, right now, that has been searching high and low for a therapist like you. That understands them, and gets them, in a way that they haven’t experienced with any therapist before. And you’re hiding. The online space is not too saturated. So, take some time, figure out what your secret sauce is/ what sets you apart (certifications, personality connection, specialties, therapy modalities, etc.) and put yourself out there! There’re enough potential clients out there for everyone. K?
Lie #4: Therapists believe that they don’t have anything important to say on the online space.
WRONG. Not true at all. Think about the topics that you talk about all day with your clients. There are always tons to talk about with clients, right? What are some topics that you’re passionate about, that you’ve observed do not get talked about enough? What do you want your ideal client to know that you have an expertise or specialty in? What problems is your ideal client wanting to be solved? Exploring the answers to these questions are the ways in which you figure out what you want to say. You have plenty to say. Trust, if you can spend several hours of the day “therapizing” (that’s the word I like to use, judge me) your clients, then you have PLENTY to say online. You got this.
Lie #5: Therapists believe that online marketing doesn’t work, and that it’s frustrating.
Ok, so I’ll partially give you the second part of that statement. Online marketing CAN be frustrating, but it doesn’t HAVE to be. You have to be using the right techniques, that will resonate and work for you. This may involve strategizing with a business coach that understands your field or who is/or was in your field, being willing to take a few online courses related to marketing your business online, reading blogs about marketing online, or listening to podcasts. It definitely works, you just may not be using the right strategy that works for YOU and your business. If you are trying to copy someone else’s’ marketing strategy, then that is a reason why it isn’t working right there. You have to be genuine, and be true to what feels good to you. That persons’ strategy was formulated with them in mind, NOT YOU. Make sense?
I hope you got some value and relief from these tips. Believe me, I totally get how scary it can be to put yourself out there on social media, but it can be done, and be done well. One of my goals is to help entrepreneurs feel good about themselves, and know that they can trust themselves, and I hope that this post did this for you.
Take it easy,
Topsie VandenBosch, LMSW, CAADC, is a Mindset & Business coach for female entrepreneurs. She empowers rising female bosses in discovering freedom from negative thoughts and beliefs that prevent them from performing at their highest level at work and in their personal lives. Her passion for working with individuals started with her work as a mental health therapist for the past 7 years. She currently owns a mental health private practice in Grand Haven, MI, and is also a part of a group practice called Northwest Counseling in Walker, MI. She enjoys the balance of owning her own business and being able to continue learning among a group of seasoned clinicians. She also provides 1:1 coaching services for mental health professionals who are looking to start their own private practice. In her role as a mental health therapist, she specializes in providing therapy to career focused women who are struggling with inner confidence and their overall emotional wellness.
Don’t you just love Topsie!? She truly is such a #BossBabe and I absolutely loved being able to share her wisdom with all of you! Want to connect further with Topsie? Check out her contact info below!
Website: www.topsievandenbosch.com (Topsie’s website is currently undergoing a rebrand so be sure to check back for updates. In the meantime, you can connect with her on her Instagram platform where she is active, and provides value in the form of tips, suggestions, and motivational talks on all things entrepreneurship, mental health, and just life.)