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Having a Personality On Your Therapy Website

Written By: Elizabeth - Jul• 05•12

One of the biggest compliments a therapist can get from a prospective client is, “I felt like I already knew you from your website.”

To me that’s the pinnacle of awesome marketing, for a psychotherapist, since the therapeutic alliance is a full 40% of the entire success.  Another huge percent in the clients belief in therapy, which they’re more likely to have if they believe in you from your website!

Some say to write as if you’re talking to a client, or friend.  I don’t quite do that.  I write as if I’m speaking to a GROUP of you.  I think talking individually is different than talking to a group.  Partly it’s about energy.  Individually I’m a lot more chill than I am in a group.  Individually also means you’re not going to say some things because it would seem preachy, whereas a group setting it’s expected that you’d define things and be more of a teacher.

Some tips then, to help you be yourself online:

  • Never define something like a therapy dictionary would.  Always try to put things into your own words, whether it’s playful, or through storytelling, or using your own cliff notes version of psychobabble speak.  For example, I’d define “boundaries” as having an invisible bubble around yourself, and you know someone’s poking in when you feel shamed, violated, or upset because you’re being asked to give up your internal dignity for someone else.  The actual definition is probably a lot more dry.
  • Consider your tone of voice.  It’s perfectly awesome to be more chit chatty, than “professional and stiff.”  It’s also fine to be super empathetic if that’s who you are.  Energy is also shared through words, so do you want to have high energy, or mellow energy?  Do you want to express hope, or focus on the clients frustrations and sorrows?  Are you very matter of fact and don’t want to have a single extra word than you need to, or are you poetic, and love to share stories and use metaphors?
  • Consider your reader and what stage of change they are in!  You say different things to the person in pre-contemplation than you do those ready for active change.  Sometimes you’ll be surprised how, if you focus on the stage of your reader, your words change and your OWN views of the change process come out in the written word…whether you’re a cheerleader, convincer, into mindfulness at any stage, forgiving of that stage and suggesting they may come back when ready, etc.
  • Listen to feedback!  My friends, family, and others say they can hear me in my written word.  I’ve often been told, “I feel like you’re sitting right next to me!”  I inspire and give therapists energy.  I didn’t make up that tagline.  It’s been said to me so often I finally had to embrace it.  It’s now part of my “thing…”  Yes, you can learn SEO and marketing from others but if they don’t give you the energy or inspiration to act, then what good is it?  Listen to what clients and colleagues say, and decide if you embrace the feedback, or aren’t quite there yet.  Some of you are way more funny and engaging in person than you are online.  Some of you are extremely competent in a speciality area, but your words are so dry and unengaging, a client would have no way to know.
  • Use articles to express yourself.  By this I mean there is a lot of basic info all therapists have to share, and it’s fine if you can’t make that zippy.  But one way to share your personality is through articles on your website.  Carefully consider what you love to talk about, thinking about zippy, engaging titles, and exactly why your personality shines through the topic.  Consider issues of self-disclosure, humor, teacher versus “fellow sojourner”, friendly, or researcher-academic tone.
  • Read other therapists blogs!  The easiest way to do this is go to Psychology Today blogs, but if you’re on social media, lots of therapists have blogs.  Start paying attention to your reaction to whether and how they express their personality.  Reading others gives you a better “gut check” on what you like and dislike reading.  I’d say trusting your gut is a good barometer, with the warning that your own life stage may not match the generation you’re working with, and those folks may have different standards or expectations.  It’s a balance and if you’re not matching your client ages, they’ll be fine meeting in the middle between their hipness, and your dud’ness. :-)
  • Finally, being stronger is more client attractive, not less.  Yes, we’re supposed to be neutral, but if there is a disagreement between the clients views and what you write, it’s up to them to still call you.  I would not worry so much.  The risk is more NOT attracting ideal clients by being sterile and void of personality!  Some therapists have a great “Warning” about “What I write here is not how I engage in individual psychotherapy. This writing is meant for educational purposes only.”

If you like what you’re reading and have some needs, contact me here.  I attract “unique snowflakes” who have unusual needs.  For example, I will gladly read what you’ve written and we can process all this based on actual writing.  Or I can help you with content ideas.  You are not alone!  

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Elizabeth Doherty Thomas is a national speaker, writer, and consultant on therapy marketing online. Her new company is called The Doherty Relationship Institute and is launching soon.

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