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sk8rgrl23 June 23rd, 2009 08:49 PM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
And ironically enough I"ve been seeing a life coach myself. In two sessions she's provided me with encouragement and concrete steps to take toward my goals and has done a lot to help me get past a "stuck" point.

She was very clear about how she differentiates between what she does and what I do, which she delineates as when a client of hers can't move past a certain point she recommends seeing a therapist to help them work through whatever has them stuck.

William Reid June 29th, 2009 09:39 AM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
Do good work (word of mouth, in the long run, is the best referral source). Respond quickly to referral sources and other professionals, and to new patients/clients when they call for an appointment (see parentheses above). Give prompt feedback to referral sources and never "steal" their patients (ditto). Teach. Offer volunteer public service things. Write in legitimate puboications (not local throwaways or those "newspapers" that give you an article if you buy advertising). A tasteful, small Yellow Pages ad may be helpful (though I don't know any individual psychotherapists who find them useful -- mostly multi-service clinics). Never promise things you can't competently deliver (such as special kinds of therapy or "the best" anything).

Things I avoid (and rarely refer patients/clients to clinicians who use them): Large advertisements. Small advertisements that I find distasteful (and I'm a stern judge). Internet listings, referral brokers, referral panels (I don't mean payor panels; that's something else). Co-op referral networks that aren't based mainly on quality (referrals should be based on quality and fit, not simply being a member of a network or group of providers). Internet listing services. Anything that smacks of kickbacks, fee splitting, or other rewards for referrals. People I haven't interviewed or somehow vetted to be reasonably sure they're competent and ethical (you'd be surprized at the number of professionals one finds with whom one shouldn't want to be affiliated, or even appear in the same group photo). Internet referral services (are you seeing the pattern here? I suggest clinicians never, ever, waste their money or their names on anything that arrives in an email or on the fax machine. If someone wants to list you free, and you believe after checking that it's legitimate, I have no problem with that (but you will get a note later asking you to upgrade to the "premium" listing. By then you will have figured out that they didn't send you any clients anyway.).

Are there people who market like crazy (no pun intended) and build big commercial businesses ("Counselors 'R' Us -- Every third session free!")? Sure, but that's probably not you. Don't consider what you do a commercial service for purposes of marketing and advertising. You will get lots of offers and pitches from the media, the yellow pages, etc., designed to bring traffic to people who sell products or services, but when considering marketing don't put yourself in that category (you may want do so when thinking about how to manage your practice, billings, etc., but not in the face you show to the public or to your professional ethic).

Da Friendly Puter Tech June 30th, 2009 03:37 PM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
On coaches - there are financial coaches, business coaches, small business coaches, Internet marketing coaches, sales coaches. Life coaches as I mentioned before usually focus on the future - goal setting, plans for how to get from point A to point B, support in carrying out those plans. Some coaches have specialized training in one aspect of sports or business, or whatever else as well. It is a buyer beware market though. I tend to think getting therapy is also a buyer beware. licensing does not guarantee a single thing.

On BNI. BNI costs close to $1000 a year. It is often not cost effective for small business owners. Sometimes groups of professionals get together and establish their own groups with the same basic ideas of BNI. Those are significantly cheaper. Some people find this step invaluable - others find that it is not worth the time and financial investment. I used one such group for my massage practice, and definitely got business from it. It was worth my investment of $100 a year. It might be a little harder for a therapist though. You would have to think twice about treating someone in the group for instance. A networking group consisting of health professionals might be a good idea. You will be expected to use the services of other people in the group, and refer possible customers to them as well. BNI would not have been worth it for me.

On advertisting. I have found my own therapist, and I have helped several friends find therapists. First stop - online! Sorry Dr. Reid, not using the Internet just put you in the dark ages. :D. I really like the psychology today listings. If a therapist doesnt have some kind of description of themselves online then they dont exist for me, or those I interact with. Seriously, absent a specific referral from someone having just a small blurp online gives me something to help me sort through phone numbers. Even if you do the psychology today listings, I would still set up a small 3-5 page website with more information and some articles. This increases your credibility, and if I like what you write I am much more likely to come to you. Dr. Reid is correct when he mentions just getting yourself into the community in various forms. Also, writing some articles and getting them published - and then publish them on your web site as well. Instant credibility. Finding some psychiatrists to exchange referrals with would also be a good idea. In fact, any health or mental health related practitioner might be good to exchange referrals with. For instance, you might be with one person for whom you recommend couples therapy as well as individual therapy. Massage therapists run in to people with emotional issues all the time. You might sometimes run into someone who needs some body work to support your work. If there are any web sites with message boards that provide networking opportunities specifically for your area I would suggest it as well. Look at for an example. Obviously, such boards would have to be chosen carefully. My above example is very well respected and known within a local community.

In the end, marketing is hard work. It is never something you can do once and then stop doing. The more you interact with a variety of people the more exposure you get.

Da Friendly Puter Tech

William Reid July 2nd, 2009 10:28 AM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
Dark Ages? Moi? I'll have you know that I ditched my old rotary phone for touch-tone over a year ago.

The nerve of these young whippersnappers.

The kinds of Internet list I recommend avoiding are often those that contact you by email promising you'll get referrals. Unlike professional association pages or personal websites, (a) the people looking for clinicians or other professional rarely go to them; (b) your name is lost in the crowd, often findable only if the person enters the specific key words you supplied (and if they're common key words, like "family therapy," you are once again lost in the crowd); and (c) the URL (web address) is not very memorable for potential clients (e.g.,").

I agree that the (usually free) listings often available on local and regional professional association websites are cost-effective and don't detract from credibility. You benefit from the publicity and good image of the association, and astute potential clients often go there either to find a professional or to learn about those services. If I were a consumer, I'd prefer sites that limit listings to members of a reputable association.

Having one's own website is a fine idea, of course. There are lots of sources for advice on naming, domain names, style, and content. Here's a little from me: (1) Don't get glitzy. (2) Don't plagiarize or misrepresent anything. (3) Don't believe anyone (especially in an email) who says he/she can enhance your search engine visibility. (There are some basic principles to follow, but a new site will be poorly visible to general searchers for a long time.) (4) Make your site text-intense rather than highly visual (photos, videos, etc.). (5) Learn about and use excellent key words in both the text and (especially) metatags. (6) Choose your URL, including domain name wisely. Get your own domain name if feasible; make it simple and memorable. In my view, a Web address with something like "" or "" screams "amateur" and "temporary" (even when it's not). Be sure to renew your domain name every year, so you don't lose it. You can pay for many years in advance; I recommend it. (7) Be stable. That is, before you put your address & contact info on the Web, be sure you'll have the same address, phone, etc., for a long time (the same applies to business cards and letterhead). You'd be amazed at the number of people who try to find you months or years after they get the contact info; make it easy for them. (8) Make [u]everything[u] easy for the potential client. (9) Don't offer individual advice or services [u]on[u] the website unless you fully understand the liabilities and potential pitfalls of doing so. (10) Update the site often, and let the reader know it's updated. (Search engines demote websites that remain static for months.) (11) Track the amount and kind of traffic to your site using free or inexpensive tracking programs (usually free from your website host).

My forensic psychiatry website, which is decidedly uninteresting from a visual standpoint, has been unusually successful in both visits and referrals, in part because it follows many basic website principles, in part because it has been on the Web and the content frequently updated for over 10 years (Dark Ages, indeed!), and in part because I try very hard to do good work for the people who find me through it. Only a couple of the over-300 pages is related to "marketing" (the "Qualifications" section), and even that is pretty low-key. About half of my new forensic clients (generally attorneys and courts) find me first on the Web, and it is second only repeat clients (including word of mouth from past clients) in overall referrals. I treat it as an educational site, kind of fun and part of whatever reputation I may have. I'm no Web maven, but it gets well over 10,000 individual visits per month (about 50,000 "hits"), mostly (I assume) from people unrelated to any referral possibility (many from students, trainees, & other professionals simply looking for information).

Conversely, my music website (gotta put in a plug here -- is completely separate from my professional one and neither website mentions the other aspect of my life (readers are herewith sworn to secrecy about the connection). It is less than a year old and does not follow a lot of the basic search engine visibility rules, and got only about 100 visitors/month until one of my songs went sort of mini-viral a month ago and increased the visits to 2-3000/month and weekly downloads to over 1000. (Note for those readers who have a personal website separate from their professional identity: I strongly suggest that you be aware of the impression your personal website will leave on potential or current clients who may find it. More than one therapist/psychiatrist has really hurt his/her reputation with a distasteful and/or unprofessional personal site. Don't confuse your ego [or freedom of speech] with professionalism.)

More than I meant to write. Sorry.

sk8rgrl23 October 9th, 2010 08:24 AM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
And the latest title in this trend: Certified Journey Practitioner. I had lunch with one at a business networking meeting, and it was interesting. This one in particular did not see the difference between what she does and what I do, and had interesting ideas on how the whole notion of dual relationships and confidentiality "needs to change," and how I should be open to seeing other business people that belong to this network as clients (and then of course we just don't talk about "the issues" when we're socializing). The network itself is great, for generating ideas on places to market to, and inexpensive ways to advertise, but there are quite a few of the life coaching types around. I'm relieved to hear this is a long-time recurring trend and not the start of some big change on the horizon.

I'm with you in being old fashioned on this one.

sk8rgrl23 November 12th, 2010 11:02 AM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
Yes, I've come across quite a few Charlatans. The latest is a "certified journey practitioner." There are quite a few of these self-appointed professionals out there that, like you said, don't have to worry about licensure, ethics, liability insurance, etc. I also ran into a bona fide nurse practitioner that still repeatedly contacts me trying to get me to buy into her home-based nutritional supplement airplane scheme. Yep, they're out there. But why do you not like internet listings? I haven't done these simply because of the cost, and there's so many out there that you'd have to buy into at least 20 of them to make it marketing effective. But not even the one in Psychology Today? I do have a listing on Google Places and LinkedIn.

William Reid November 15th, 2010 11:05 AM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?

Originally Posted by sk8rgrl23 (Post 7976)
But why do you not like internet listings? I haven't done these simply because of the cost, and there's so many out there that you'd have to buy into at least 20 of them to make it marketing effective. But not even the one in Psychology Today? I do have a listing on Google Places and LinkedIn.

Does anyone want to start an "ethics of marketing" thread?

I differentiate links on legitimate pages from paid links and listings. In my experience, none of the paid links, link exchanges, or directory listings (online or print) that one gets in emails is worth the trouble or the cost (for my kind of practice, at least -- but my specialty is one that discourages advertising). Some are complete scams or link the therapist up with sleazy folks. A number of nice colleagues and other mental health or law resources have posted a free link to my page, as I have with some of theirs. I don't think that creates many (or any) referrals. I have avoided LinkedIn because of what I perceive as some unfortunate email address book copying issues (I could be wrong). Being on some peer list-servs seems professionally useful in some cases, but perhaps mostly for sharing information & advice, or just collegiality. For referrals themselves, one might want to be on referrers' list-servs (e.g., general physicians, hospitals, etc., who use your services but are not competing with you), not those of peers.

I know a couple of colleagues who pay for sponsored GOOGLE search listings. I don't know how successful they are, but they look a bit unseemly in my forensic field. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but my clients (who are usually lawyers, not patients), and their audiences (judges & juries) often look down on experts who advertise.

I have gotten a few referrals from the fact that my website is listed (at no charge) on a specialized association website (American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law).

Search engine placement is a different animal entirely. It's difficult (and to some extent serendipitous) to have one's website come up on the first page of a GOOGLE search for (for example) "psychotherapist" and "San Diego," but if you have a specific or unique service, or carefully-chosen metatags, you may get good search engine placement. That's very valuable. (In my view, one should not respond to the many email offers we all receive about optimizing search engine placement. Most are scams and even those that are legitimate are very unlikely to know anything about bringing real clients to a clinician's site.)

But maybe it's just me . . . :)

Da Friendly Puter Tech November 15th, 2010 10:13 PM

Re: Tennis, I mean, Life Coaching Anyone?
I know of several people in this area who has used the psychology today ads with good results. They usually get from 2-5 calls on that ad a month. Those who does not have an effective ad gets 0 calls - which just shows me that the text in the ad needs to be adjusted.

Da Friendly Puter Tech

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