Someone asked me last week how I have marketed my private practice. After 26 years of practice in the same town, I’ve got a perpetually full practice. It wasn’t always that way. What’s worked for me in the past?

  • Paid referral services. The therapist pays a monthly or yearly fee, fills out a form about location, specialities, treatment philosophy, available hours and some kind of personal statement about their practice. Clients call and get 3 to 5 appropriate referrals. Now, many of these are on-line and people pick their own therapist from the available lists. There’s no "kick-back", just an upfront fee from the therapists. I found that I got a client every month or two, more than enough to justify the expense.
  • Newsletters. I sent a newsletter twice each year  to every lawyer, doctor, therapist, friend or other associate (no clients) that I knew. I’d gush about what I was learning, what kind of work I was doing and what else was happening in my work life.
  • Teaching. Everytime I’ve taught something to therapists, they end up sending me referrals.
    Last month, I started a reading group of heavy psychotherapy books. (If I’m holding the meeting at my house, I’ll read the damn books.–it worked today.) Even though I didn’t do it to get more referrals, I imagine it would work for that. I’ve taught at national and regional meetings. I’ve taught EMDR Basic Trainings. I never taught in order to "sell myself", but it didn’t hurt.
  • Volunteering. I started the AIDS Mental Health Network. I worked on committees to deal with managed care. People got to know me and sent me referrals.
  • Publishing has been helpful. since the book came out, people who never heard of me, before, send me referrals from all over the place. The blog has generated a few referrals, too.
  • Advertising can be helpful, especially if you are marketing to a specific population. (And it’s legal in your profession.)
  • Networking meetings, especially if you are outgoing, or can make yourself act outgoing.

If you know of some other good ways, feel free to post a comment!