One of the things I've noticed through business coaching with other therapists and working closely with the members of Australia Counselling, is that many therapists and counsellors experience technophobia.
What I mean by this is that some therapists and counsellors try to have as little to do with technology and computers as possible.
I guess this has surprised me, as I've wrongly assumed that other therapists have skills and knowledge about technology that I take for granted.
My know-how has emerged from a passion and interest I have in all things 'geek'. But what I've also seen is that for some therapists, this aversion to technology is starting to impact their ability to create a thriving private practice. And of course, their bottom line in terms of the profitabiity of their business.
The business of therapy is about running a business
I've always said that to be a therapist in private practice, you also need to be a business person. This might not sit well with you, but if you want to create a successful private practice, you also need to have a number of other skills.
Some of the skills the modern therapy practitioner needs to have include:
- an eye for graphic design
- the ability to know good web design
- the ability to manage your own therapy website
- accounting and money-management skills
- marketing skills
- advertising know-how
- the ability to write articles for the public
- copywriting skills
- understanding blogging platforms and technology
- the ability to write for social media platforms
- networking skills- online and offline
- PR- public relations for your business
- the ability to manage software, such as an online appointment scheduler or auto-responder/newsletter system
How are you feeling after reading this list? Intimidated? Maybe, but that's not my intention.
The point I'm making is you can no longer just put a sign on your door that says 'Counselling & Psychotherapy' and expect that people will arrive. The number of therapists that can make a living based purely on referrals is extremely small, and often these are the therapists who have been working for 25+ years.
You now need to be able to harness the power of technology to market your practice and manage systems to help in the effective and efficient running of your therapy business.
So the bottom line is: you can't avoid technology and expect to be able to fulfil the roles of a modern business person. And having a private practice means you're a business person.
The good news
The good news is you don't have to do all of this on your own. There are many ways that you can get support for the skills that are needed to create a successful therapy business. Sure, I do a lot of these things on my own because I have a passion for technology, but there are many ways you can outsource these tasks.
One of the main sites I use to outsource taks is oDesk.
Outsourcing for your therapy business is often a better use of your time and money
I'm a huge fan of using oDesk to outsource many of the tasks that I don't have the skills for. The way oDesk works is you post a job and people bid on the job. You review the bidders and accept the bid proposal that you like the best.
The great thing about oDesk is how economical it is to outsource. You can often have a team of people working for you from $5 - $15 an hour.
Now do the math. If you are billing $100-200 an hour for your services, it just doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time and energy on tasks you struggle with, when you can outsource them for a fraction of what you earn per hour.
I've outsourced graphic design, web design, marketing banners and logos, and website creation. In fact, the Australia Counselling site was built by a company that I sourced through oDesk.
There are some therapy business tasks that shouldn't be outsourced
As much as I love oDesk, there are some tasks that you have to do yourself. Most importantly, I believe that you need to overcome your fears of writing and be blogging and article writing for your business yourself.
The reason I see these tasks as important to do yourself is that you need to cultivate your own uniquie writing voice that can be recognised and appreciated by the public. Your writing is the public face of your business. It's through your writing that you can develop relationships with your community.
While it may be tempting to outsource writing, I encourage you to develop your own blogging voice, that can be identified as yours and yours only.
The one exception to this is copywriting. Copywriting is a proven science that compels people to take action through the written word. I have studied copywriting and I often help therapists with the copy for the webpages, so that the copy is compelling and targeted for their niche market.
If you're creating copy for your website, I encourage you to consider using the skills of a professional copywriter. One simple way is to write the copy for your webpages, and then have them reviewed by a copywriter
Copywriters are also often trained in SEO (search engine optimisation) and know how to use SEO for your counselling profile. They use targeted keywords so your webpages rank in the search engines for specific words related to the population and types of problems you work with. (And if you're looking for an experienced therapy copywriter, please contact us to connect you with our professional copywriter ).
If you'd like to sign up and trial oDesk for outsourcing, click here.
What's your experience of using technology for your therapy practice? Do you have a fear of technology, or have you succssfully used it to build your private practice? Please leave your comments below.