For every type of human struggle, there is a type of counselor to help us work through it. Marriage, grief, substance abuse, credit, even career woes – counselors who help people deal with all of these concerns are invaluable to those who use them. But is your practice providing the same level of value to you? From branding consultants to counseling appointment scheduling software, here are 5 ways to improve your counseling business.
Remember: Counseling is a business
As with most professionals who provide services to the public, odds are that you didn’t go into counseling to strike it rich. However, just because your work helps people doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat it as a for-profit venture.
As the saying goes, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. According to the American Counseling Association, investing in your business is one way to find success with your practice. So, go ahead: Spruce up your office space, invest in client relations, and give your staff the right compensation for their duties. It’ll pay dividends in the long run by producing loyal clients and happy employees.
In the same vein, you shouldn’t feel guilty about charging for your services. Many therapists feel that they should help their clients at all times, even when they can’t or won’t pay your fees. Be sure that your generosity doesn’t come at your own expense. Channel your inner Donna Summer and remember: You work hard for the money, so you better treat yourself right!
Use branding to help your business blossom
Family problem solver. Social media therapist. Life coach for soccer moms. Happiness expert. What’s your brand?
In order to help people, your prospective clients have to be able to find you. And, once they find you, your services and counselors must stand out from the rest.
In a New York Times article, one therapist reviews several options for increasing business through branding adjustments. She suggests tactics like:
- Specializing in a particular type of therapy instead of general counseling
- Switching your sales pitch from selling “therapy” to selling “a solution to a problem”
- Using “transference” to build trust via your website and social media channels
- Adding “coaching” or “consulting” to your list of services for clients who desire broader sessions to discuss goals, identify roadblocks, and create a plan of action
Keep flawless records and paperwork
Every business needs to be organized, but for counseling businesses it can be even more important. Because of the nature of your services, the data flowing through your business must be handled carefully. So, how can you keep key business processes efficient, yet ensure your clients’ privacy is protected?
One way is through secure counseling appointment scheduling software. You can keep track of all your appointments in this web-based tool, managing multiple counselors, office locations, and appointment data from a single login.
It’s also a client-data powerhouse. You can store release forms, treatment plans, and progress notes all within the software. (Many of the templates for these forms can be found online.)
Having perfect records not only helps when it’s time to prepare invoices, but also protects you in the case of legal action. So, do yourself a favor and be sure to exercise the appropriate level of due diligence in selecting a software provider to store your important data.
Embrace technology and rev up your productivity
The tools you have at your disposal have changed a lot since the days of Freud. Take advantage of all those counselors before you who have tested the waters and found applications that really work for professionals in your field.
In addition to appointment scheduling, there are applications like Constant Contact for email marketing, Hootsuite for social media management, and Dropbox for file storage and sharing. Check ‘em out.
Discover your work-life balance
Understandably, it can be tough to find time for yourself, but you need to be your best self in order to provide the assistance your clients need.
According to an article from the American Psychological Association, research shows that handling the emotional problems of others can lead to emotional stress for the counselor.
One counselor provides the following helpful advice for new counselors: Always make sure you have the basics covered — get enough sleep, eat right, and spend time with friends and family. Sounds simple, but many counselors aren’t taking care of those foundational items. The APA adds additional tips like:
- Know your limitations. Make sure your schedule has time for breaks, and know when to say no. Everyone deserves a chance to recharge.
- Develop outside interests. Your whole life shouldn’t be about counseling, so make time to regularly take a breather from your clients.
- Be flexible. If possible, arrange your work hours so that you’re making time for your personal priorities, whether that’s being home every night for dinner, or attending your morning exercise class.
If you are interested in learning more about how appointment scheduling software for counselors can help you improve your client experience, assist in marketing your services to prospective clients, improve record keeping, increase productivity, and enhance your work-life balance, give AppointmentPlus a call. We can schedule a quick demo of our software and show you how we can help your counseling business thrive.
There you have it – 5 tips for improving your counseling business. As a counselor, do you have any advice to share with others in your field? Comment below, and let us know what we missed!