I am doing my next Nuts and Bolts of Private Practice Class on September 22m 2023 from 9-12:30PST and 12-3:30pm EST. It will be recorded and accessible after the day of the workshop.
I have been doing this workshop since 2011. I was asked to present to some students at SFSU in the social work program. These students were thrilled with the presentation and hungry for more information so I developed this workshop. It has evolved over the years to include new issues and requirements such as the Right to an Estimate Paperwork and a more extensive presentation on telehealth. If I know what state you are in I will include that states requirements in the presentation. However most of the issues are those that we all face. Logistical issues like getting your NPI and EIN. Creating your paperwork. Picking an electronic health record system.
I have been in practice for more than 20 years and have a lot of experience and wisdom on having a successful practice. Including having worked through two recessions. I have been on insurance panels and now I am not and can offer you some ideas and thoughts on that.
I have been having some fun on Instagram lately. Follow me at @growyourcounselingpractice. And in the spirit of now focusing on working more on my Search Engine Optimization, I am using Instagram to provide tips on marketing and building your private counseling practice. Using social media is a great way to improve your Search Engine Optimization performance. Then by taking the videos and posting them here and adding additional content I am providing fresh content on my website. Though, I am not following the recommendation I am making to have at least 600 words of content on each page or post. One can only work so hard.
These videos explain SEO, discuss the importance of social media marketing, and talk about how much content needs to be on each page.
I also want to remind people of my SEO course. This course takes you through the basics of improving your SEO. Even if you are paying someone else to do this work for you, it is good to have an understanding of what helps search engine optimization. Many companies will take advantage of your ignorance. The course takes you through different aspects of Search Engine Optimization by giving it to you in bite-size portions. I also include some worksheets to help you through making changes. As always I am also available for consultations.
There are a few different recommendations for how much content should be on each page to improve SEO. A minimum of 600 words is now recommended and 1000 words are also recommended. You may need to add content to your web pages. I get it. It can be hard to do. I am barely going to make the old guideline of 300 words for this post. I am hoping my use of videos helps give the page some juice.
Quick answer is yes. You need business social media account to promote your business. Both to improve Search Engine Optimization performance and to use as a marketing tool. I suggest finding one platform you are comfortable with and working that. Tik-Tok is super popular now. I had some privacy concerns about it so I have moved on to Instagram which has been effective for my needs.
Today I made a video to show you all how easy it is to get a video on your website! First I bought a tripod. Here is a picture of what I got. It is no longer available but you can find something like it at the vendor of your choice. It was $15.99. It is then super easy to create your video. Well that is a bit of exaggeration. I spent a bit of time fiddling around finding a good angle for the film and a few practice runs.
Here is what you do over on YouTube
This picture is off the upper right. You can see the blue icon which shows me it is my channel and then you click the red create symbol to upload your video)
Then you move the video over to your computer for upload to YouTube. Then you upload it. Here are a few screen shots to show what that looks like. Once you have it uploaded there you can access the sharing link. That is the link you will post on your website to show the video on your website.
This picture shows where you drag and drop your video to YouTube
Here is a picture of what it looks like when you put the link into the website. This will look different on every website.
That is how you easily get a video up on your website.
The Governor just signed AB 1779 which requires that all licensees and people getting a license for therapy in CA get three hours of coursework in Providing Telehealth effective July 1, 2023. If you completed such a course in the past find the certificate and make sure it is in your CEU packet for the year starting July 1, 2023. If you are audited after 2023 you will need to provide documentation that you took this coursework. Here is the BBS FAQ on this requirement.
There are some new legal and ethical requirements for associate registrants. Each year before you renew your registration you must take 3 hours of CA Law and Ethics coursework. If you fail the Law and Ethics exam you will no longer have to take a 12 hours Law and Ethics class before you take the exam again.Here is the BBS FAQ’s on this.
The BBS also implemented AB 1758 which, is in regards to, the Supervision of Applicants for Licensure via Videoconferencing. Effective August 29, 2022, supervision can now be via video. Here are the FAQ’s on that.
Since most therapists have what is called a static website (there are not often changes or new content added) we have to add fresh content in different ways. The blog post is one of those ways. Frequent blog posting can engage your potential clients and help your SEO. First, I must say, the most important, tip in content writing is ALWAYS writing content your reader will be interested in. If you write boring content, it does not matter how many people come to your pages because they won’t engage.
Many of us are also trying to market in multiple locations, which is quite hard. I market in both PA and CA for my counseling services. I have intentionally optimized different pages for different states. However, that won’t necessarily be enough for many of my keywords. My Bay Area optimization has decreased since I moved and tried optimizing in PA. In order to get Google reminded about my Bay Area work, I recently wrote a blog post called Bay Area EMDR Intensives. My keywords were location (Bay Area, EMDR, and EMDR Intensives. Sometimes it can help us rank by working with less competitive keywords. EMDR Intensive is going to be less competitive than counseling will be. I may not rank for counseling but I am ranking for EMDR intensives.
4 SEO Tips for Blog Posts
Develop a strong headline. This headline should use one or more keywords. A title with a number in it gets clicked more often.
Google is suspected to be rewarding longer posts. Write a minimum of 300 words and strive for 1,000 words.
Use headings to break up content. You can see how I did it in this post. There is a heading that says Writing Good Content for SEO Optimization and then a second one that is in a small heading font that says 4 SEO Tips for Blog Posts
Have strong page titles and page descriptions. Do this on all pages and posts. You do this behind the scenes of your website. Below you can see a screen shot of a google search for EMDR intensives in PA. One of the counseling pages I targeted for those keywords did show up. I am indicating what the title is and what the description is.
Keeping fresh content on your website is an ongoing task. It is easy to forget and then a year goes by without posting. (2020 anyone?) However, it is important to keep up this work, and if you get off schedule, just start up again.
Build Your Private Practice Counseling Practice With Work-Life Balance
In the summer lull? Are you enjoying it by spending more time with family or doing fun things? Or are you worried because your August income dropped by 40%?
Many of us have taken the changes created by COVID into our brains and are looking more and more at our work and questioning if it’s part of a good work-life balance. I know I am not the only therapist that is seeing fewer clients and trying to create other income streams. For me I have developed an EMDR intensive program, I do this work, and I have become an EMDRIA EMDR consultant. My goal is to continue this and maybe even add some additional teaching work. Because teaching invigorates me.
As many may know, I recently undertook a major life change. I moved back to the East Coast to PA. After almost 30 years in the Bay, it was time for a change. In PA, the cost of living is so much less that it means I can work even less. I can also spend more time doing the things I want like riding my bike and starting some volunteer work. For others, they want to create a schedule where they can meet their kids’ needs, live on the road for a bit, or even leave the country. With telehealth becoming common it gives many of us many more work and scheduling options.
I want to help you figure it all out. How to have a good work-life balance. How to do the work that energizes you. How to make the income you need. Then I will help you get there.
Like most of you, I hate to toot my own horn, but people that take my classes and work with me love my super authentic and pragmatic nature. I have had my own counseling practice for over 20 years. I have seen a lot, and I am happy to share that knowledge with you. Email me to set up a free 15-minute consultation to see how I can help you set and reach your business goals for your counseling practice.
Making Video Content for Your Website-You Need a Video!
Video content on your website is a great way of connecting to your potential clients. Over the years, I have done several videos for my counseling website. The first was made with an actual video camera. Subsequent ones have been made using my computer or iPhone. Today I just made a new video using my iPhone and using a tripod selfie stick with a remote. This means no awkward lean-in and lean-out to turn off the video.
Since we can make videos about ourselves now there is NO EXCUSE for not doing it! I know you will come up with some like I don’t want to see myself! I get that for sure. I hate watching videos of myself. As I recorded today’s video I must have done 10 takes. My shirt was the wrong color. My shirt had lint on it that showed up dramatically in the video. I said UM too much. But it is important to persevere. Clients need to make a connection with you and if you are not seeing people in person your website is how you are going to make that connection.
Once you create the video you may or may not want to edit it. I put my video into Imovie and was able to clip the end a bit. It took a second for me to turn off the video (even using that remote) and it seemed awkward so I just clipped the video two seconds.
When you are done you upload the video to YouTube. You should create a business account there for this purpose if you don’t have one already. You upload your video, put in a good title and description using your keywords, and publish it.
YouTube will give you a link that you can then post on social media or on your website to showcase your video. Look how I did it here.
Having videos on your website will both help engage potential new clients and help with your SEO. It is a win-win.
Can You Keep Your Home Address off of the Internet?
The answer is somewhat but not totally.
With many therapists no longer having offices the question of what address to use is often asked. Many people use a mailbox place either virtual or in person. This can be a solution for the places that give you a street address. However, what I recently learned is that when you update your NPI address (remember that?) you cannot use a mailbox place. Their computer catches it when you type it in. I recently tried it myself. They caught it and then asked if I still wanted to use it. I indicated yes so I could see what happened. What happened was NPI called me and they didn’t hang up until I gave them a different address. Which had to be my home address. I own my home and I work primarily across the country from my clients so I knew my address would be out there on the internet anyway and I also know my clients are low risk as far as ever looking for me on the internet.
You may know that NPI information is public. Today i googled my name and address to see what came up. What came up was old office addresses. My PO street address also came up. A good result! I did find a site CareDash which is one of those sites that puts up a profile for you and then doesn’t let you remove it (unless you live in CA!). I set up an account and edited the address to the address I want to be showing for me. I also emailed them to see if they would delete the profile. I am waiting for a response.
I also found out that if I type in the name I use my NPI information did not come up. I used my legal name for my NPI and that information came up only if I googled my legal name. That was positive.
At the end of the day if you get mail or packages at your home you probably will not be able to remove it totally. You can certainly reduce how much it shows up by searching and removing listings. For an office address the safest bet is to use an actual address for mailing purposes. Many places are now offering shared office space which include mail service and office space by the hour.
It doesn’t matter how hard you work on your website and how much you pay for Search Engine Optimization if Google has not found your website. To check type in “site:”followed by your website URL. So for my counseling website it was “site:”www.cathyhanville.com.
Below is what showed up when I did that.
You can see that that website has over 200 pages that are indexed which is great. Shows that posting those blogs has paid off.
If your website is not indexed then you need to go to Google Search Console to get it indexed. If you don’t have an account there I have a link at the end of this post on how to set up the account.
Once at Search Console you navigate to URL inspection which you will see on the left. Then at the top you type in the page you want to see is indexed or added to the index. If it is not indexed you will see a message (like shown below) where you can click the button to request indexing.
This is a simple thing to check and fix if it is not done.
I teach a Nuts and Bolts of Starting Your Private Practice Class. One of the aspects people struggle with the most is marketing their practices. Therapists seem to have an aversion to marketing. Which I get. Our product is related to us. Selling our product is in some ways selling ourselves. I can see why that can feel gross.
However, if you want a successful practice, especially a private pay-only practice, you need to market hard and consistently. That includes an excellent website and social media marketing. I talked to a colleague today who said she spent an hour a day marketing on Facebook. Groan at your own risk. This person has a very successful group practice that is all private pay that is almost always full.
There are a few aspects to this. One is developing your marketing message which, I will discuss today and a second is the ways to deliver it, which I will discuss in my next blog post. Be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when I publish that post.
Why do you develop a marketing message?
To attract your ideal clients. You don’t want to just get clients you want to attract the clients you work with best. Pre-internet we developed our connection with clients in the first session. This engagement has to happen in about 30 seconds when a potential client finds your webpage. If you don’t connect with a potential client quickly on your website they will click to the next site.
How do you connect with a client that quickly?
Let them know you get them and their pain. Show them you are safe and they can relate to you and you can relate to them. The best way of doing this is by having a video on your website. Again I hear the groans. How else is a client going to connect better than hearing you speak? You can have content and a picture (and you better have both!) but a video gives your potential clients the strongest way to make a connection with you. On my counseling website, I have a video I made with an i-phone showing me as I am. I am an authentic therapist and I believe this comes through in my video. You can also spend some money and get a more professional video. I get that it is hard. I myself struggle to watch myself in a video. But I have heard from clients that are referred to me that my video and website spoke to them. That is the connection you want to create with your potential clients.
What is in your marketing message?
The first thing is speaking to pain points. The client needs to believe you understand them. The second thing is expressing why you as their therapist versus the many other therapists out there? What gives you the expertise to help them? That should not be expressed in I was trained in psychodynamic therapy and practice DBT. That means nothing to most potential clients. They want to know you can listen and help them develop skills that will change their lives. The third piece is to showcase your personality. You must give the client a sense of who you are in the room (see the video statement above). Many people do not understand how therapy works. They can be intimidated by the process. You want to help them see you are a professional but, also a human being that can help them. The final piece is a brief call to action. For us, that is usually a statement that says call me today for a free 15-minute consultation.
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Feel free to reach out anytime if you want to hear more about how I can help you with your marketing message.
Can You Do a Google My Business Listing for an Online Business?
Like many of us, I no longer have an office or see clients in person. I also moved to another state as a result I now have two states to market to.
I took a journey to figure things out. First, I set up a Cathy Hanville, LCSW PA page. I was asked the areas served and I put in some local areas because for online work I can see someone throughout PA. Google’s policy is that if you can enter a Service Area then you can have a listing without a specific address.
Google did require a NON-PO Box address to send me a verification code to enter.
However, I later realized I could edit my existing profile by clearing the address by going to Info on the left and then hitting clear this address on the bottom of the page as shown below.
I then edited the service areas. I put in areas for both PA and CA. As you can see, I put in both states and added a few more local areas.
Starting Your Private Counseling Practice-What You Wish You Learned in Grad School
I have been teaching a workshop on starting your private practice since 2011. Not to toot my own horn but the feedback I have gotten on this workshop has been amazingly positive. People feel so overwhelmed by the idea of everything there is to do to start your private practice. They also recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know! They also feel nervous about asking the many questions that are arising. I have been able to provide a safe and interactive workshop where you can ask any questions.
Originally I focused the workshop on CA therapists since that is where I was practicing. However, with the move to Zoom workshops and my move across the country I have revamped the workshop to be non-state specific. I have also revised the Ebook that I first wrote reviewing all of these concepts.
In the last workshop, I ran one of the participants asked for a checklist of things to do to start your practice. I was amazed that I had not created that yet. It is so helpful!
But the most important thing is to take the time to be thoughtful in envisioning your practice and what you want it to be. Then just work through the list one item at a time (and they might not all be necessary for your practice).
Private practice is a great job. Building it is work but it will be so rewarding when you have your business.