Episode 98: Create Captivating Content: "Sticky Profiles" [featuring Anna Walker]
How many times have you heard me say that you "Can't be the Applebees of Therapy?"
During this episode, I talk with Anna Walker, marketing specialist for mental health therapists, and creator of the Facebook group "Get Booked Out."
We talk about what helps you stand out on your therapist directory pages and websites, and how you can avoid sounding JUST like everybody else.
If you want to create a therapist profile that has clients calling you while already knowing that you are the therapist for them, this episode is for you.
Listen to this episode to hear Anna and I talk about:
- The importance of authenticity in content creation
- The power of being relatable
- How to write your profile without sounding like a walking DSM-V
- How to get more private pay clients
- Anna talks about how to create a "sticky" profile page
The difference between a generic profile and a "sticky" profile can be a deciding factor in the amount AND kind of clientele you attract to your private practice, so take care to create copy that is authentic and shows the clients that light you up how you get what they're going through and are the right therapist to support them.
More about Anna:
Anna Walker is the founder and CEO of Walker Strategy Co, a marketing coaching & marketing agency dedicated to seeing therapists fill their private pay caseloads. She's helped over 1,000 clinicians grow their practices in ways that are simple, effective, and authentic.
Grab Anna's Squarespace website templates (100% customizable, professionally designed website templates for therapists), or check out Confident Copy (her marketing mentorship focused on attracting & converting ideal-fit, full-fee clients)
Anna's Website: walkerstrategyco.com
Squarespace Website Templates: walkerstrategyco.com/templates
Confident Copy: walkerstrategyco.com/cc
A Thanks to Our Sponsors: The Receptionist for iPad & Heard!
I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode.
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I would also like to thank Heard for sponsoring this episode.
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PATRICK CASALE: Hey everyone, you're listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale. I'm joined today by Anna Walker of Walker Strategy Co, most of you probably know her as well from her Facebook group Get Booked Out. And today we are going to talk about authentic copywriting, and content creation, and things that we see when we're doing coaching with therapists, and things that can be improved, and just ways to stand out.
So, thanks so much for coming on and making the time this morning.
ANNA WALKER: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, Patrick. It's such a delight to finally get to connect in this way. And I can't wait to just chat about one of my favorite topics.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, so you are a marketing specialist and you support mental health therapists and entrepreneurs in the private practice space. And I think that's a good unique opportunity to see things from a different lens because you know, so many mental health professionals just have absolutely zero business training, and then when you even talk about marketing it's almost like this cringe feeling of like, "I hate marketing, I hate putting myself out there." And like, we still think therapists are working through this shame response of lack of permission of like, I'm able to be myself, which I try really hard to help people do.
So, tell me a little bit about, you know, just how your business came to be? And why did you decide I want to specialize in the mental health community?
ANNA WALKER: Yeah, absolutely. It's kind of a funny story. I myself am not a clinician, which has been a source of impostor syndrome throughout the life of my business. But I have come to realize that there's actually a lot of value in that additional perspective.
But I spent my career in marketing and about four years ago was exploring, just thinking about ways I might be able to use the skills that I had and that came very naturally to me in a way that felt just more useful, and more productive, and actually serving a greater purpose. I was serving these, like, large, you know, fortune 500 companies, I was making rich people richer, just didn't feel good. I didn't feel good about the work I was doing.
So, it was actually while I was looking for a therapist myself here in Nashville, looking through websites, scrolling Psych Today, looking for the right fit, and realizing, "I think I might be able to help these guys." I could see through the lens of my marketing expertise and the background that I had that these folks were struggling to put into words why they were a good therapist, for me or you know, for the people that they served.
And so I spent a good amount of time because there's so much nuance, as you know, of course, Patrick, in this world, to understand what it looks like to market therapy because it's different. It's different than any other industry and I will die on that hill.
And so, I spent a lot of time just learning, understanding, researching, interviewing, I talked to everyone that I knew that had any sort of therapy background and really developing a point of view, and then over the course of the last four years have really been able to kind of develop a process and a way of thinking about this idea of authentic marketing in a way that isn't just authentic because that's important, but also actually turns into clients because we want that for our clients, too. So, that's kind of how we came to be.
PATRICK CASALE: I like that, yeah. And that's a cool perspective. And I think that's such an important point that you made that it is a different profession than every other profession. And I can understand why marketing is nuanced for mental health professionals because there is that dynamic, right, of like, I'm a mental health helper, like I'm supposed to show up a certain way, talk a certain way, this is the work that I do.
And I think what happens is like, get so entrenched in the, like, walking DSM jargon that when people who are not therapists or savvy in the therapy spaces read what you've created, and be like, "I don't know what the fuck this person is talking about. Like, I don't know what all of these acronyms mean." Or like, you focus on trauma, TF-CBT, AC-T, DBT, EMDR, and by the time they leave your page their head's spinning and like-
ANNA WALKER: Like alphabet soup.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, it's alphabet soup. So, it's like, really trying to hone in on like, what is the human experience, right? Because at the end of the day, this is relational work, but if you're a private practice owner listening to this or group practice owner, you're a business, you're a business owner. And there is a complexity there of like, the both and, right? Like, both can be true. Like, you can mark it really well and you can do it really authentically to you, and your style, and your voice, and you can be an absolutely fantastic helper.
ANNA WALKER: Yes, yes, you are allowed to, you know, make money, you are allowed to be paid for your expertise, and you're also allowed to do that in a way that doesn't feel slimy, or robotic, or contrived.
And I certainly can't blame clinicians, like you were saying, they don't get any sort of business education. They spend all these years of their lives, all this money, learning how to help people and do it well, and they are good at that. So, who can blame them for entering into private practice and thinking, "Well, I guess I'll just continue writing in the way I wrote in grad school and talking in the way I talked in grad school." Realizing that they have to translate the work they do in the room, that they're actually really good at into their marketing, as opposed to their education into their marketing. That's really when you see the game change when they start putting themselves in the shoes of their ideal client, thinking about what would happen in the room as opposed to what's happening kind of underneath that as far as their expertise goes.
PATRICK CASALE: That's a great point. And I think that's something to really hone in on the fact that when most people are writing they really struggle with content creation. I feel like you see these blockages, and it's because you're trying to force it, and you feel like you have to write a certain way. And there's this almost like liberating "Aha" epiphany moment, when someone's like, "Oh, my God, I can say that?" Or, "I can say that differently."
And I think you're spot on when you're saying, like you're writing about based on the education that you have opposed to what's bringing someone in the door because what's bringing someone in the door is not the education that you've had, they know you're a clinician, you don't have to say it in a million different ways. Your website doesn't have to read like a resume. And I think impostor syndrome plays a major role because you're almost like proving your competency.
ANNA WALKER: Yes.
PATRICK CASALE: And I need to say and highlight, like I was on this honors committee, and I did this, and I volunteer here, and I, you know, use all of these techniques that I was trained in, and at the end of the day we're selling relational work, right? Like, people just want to know that you get it. And that's really the most important piece, like they already know you're a therapist, you don't have to say that over and over again, they already know that you're trained. Like, you really just need to get it.
And I often say like, two things that stand out to me constantly is that your niche is a version of you. And I believe that wholeheartedly.
ANNA WALKER: Amen.
PATRICK CASALE: And if that is true, you know the pain points. Like, it may not be the exact scenario for this person but when I was starting out I was very buttoned up. I did everything like that I would tell you not to do now. And my profiles, my website was shit, my Psych Today was terrible and it was very much like, "I'm a trauma-informed therapist, I'll walk alongside you." And I've got pictures of stack rocks on everything. And like [CROSSTALK 00:08:12]-
ANNA WALKER: I love the stacked rocks [CROSSTALK 00:07:15].
PATRICK CASALE: …stacked rocks, right? Look at this, let's piss off Patrick. Like, I wasn't getting the calls that were lighting me up. I wasn't feeling like really passionate about my schedule, even though I was the one creating it. And I'm thinking like, I just recreated my agency job environment by saying like, yes to everything, being the Applebee's of therapy, as I like to call it.
And once I started realizing, like, okay, you talk about your gambling addiction constantly, let's start talking about what it's like to go through addiction, to be struggling but wants support, but it's not working. And then you start using real-life examples. And I start cursing in my content, where like I said something, I think it was as simplistic as like, vulnerability is fucking scary and that's okay. And I was just amazed by the phone calls that were coming in because I started getting calls from young adult men who are my target pop at the time. And they're like, "Finally, someone I can talk to who isn't going to judge me for how I speak."
And that moment for me was like, the aha moment where I was like, that's what this is all about. Like, you can be as skillful a clinician as there is in the world, but if you cannot relate to the audience, you're doing yourself a disservice but you're more importantly doing the community a disservice because they can't find you because you're not able to relay what you can actually offer them.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely, absolutely. It's so important in this process to reflect on why am I the right fit for the right person? Why is someone going to choose me over another clinician? Because there are so many other skilled educated clinicians around you, we know that, right? Why did they pick you? What is that thing? What are those things? If you can harness that, if you can first figure out what it is because that's hard work. But if then you can bring that forth in your content, just like you were saying it, in that example, like swearing, if you swear in session, it's one of the best connectors in copy. I love to see it happen for clinicians.
But if you can start bringing that forward in your marketing, you're leading with the thing that's ultimately connecting with your ideal client. Hiding behind what you think you should do or that buttoned-up sort of nature is absolutely you're right, you're doing a disservice to yourself, certainly, and you're doing a disservice to your clients because they don't realize that you, that clinician that they so are looking for is hiding behind that.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that fear of judgment, and criticism, and that like, you know, therapists love to throw the unethical word around. Like, it's like a huge buzzword and, you know, I can't stand it. But it's just the ability to tap into the relational nature of the job and I always say that authenticity and relatability equals accessibility.
ANNA WALKER: Interesting, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: [CROSSTALK 00:09:57] is because for marginalized groups of people, especially, you know, so anyone that identifies in the LGBTQIA population, BIPOC community, the neurodiversity community, you're already struggling enough to feel like you fit in, that you can be understood, that you belong. So, to have someone that looks like you, or talks like you, or shows up authentically, it just reduces that barrier to treatment. It allows for someone to feel more comfortable picking up the phone, emailing, texting, whatever the case may be.
Same thing in the addiction world. So, like, I always found it… I worked in addiction treatment for a long time before I started in community mental health. And I just always felt like clients in the addiction realm really want to know that you have been through what they've been through. Like, they ask you point blank during the intake. They're like, "Do you know what it's like to be addicted to something or struggle with addiction? And you're like, "Whoa, what the fuck."
But in reality, what I've realized is like, the guard goes down, the vulnerability goes down because then it's safe because it's like, "Okay, you may not get my, you know, exact world, but you understand the torturous hellacious process that it is to battle with addiction. Great, now we can have rapport." And you can have that rapport before you even meet the client based on how you write, and how you speak, and how you put content out there. And I think we so often lose sight of that and miss the mark.
And it's just amazing to see the difference when you're working with therapists whose profiles and content reflect their ideal clients pain points, and they truly encapsulate like, what it's like to experience whatever they're experiencing, versus the like, hundreds of profiles that I audit that I'm just like, "This just sounds like everything else and it does not stand out."
And we live in a world where attention spans are so short. Like, three to five seconds is all you've got. And if you don't try, like hook me in, then, I'm just going to move on to the next page. So, like, you've got to be able to step into that authenticity.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely, absolutely. When I coach clinicians on copywriting inside of my program, we'll look at individual statements and we'll reflect on would other therapists say that? Does this attract basically every therapy client that's scrolling Psych Today right now, for instance? Like, do you feel stressed and overwhelmed? Like that might be the thing your client is coming in with, but it's also the thing everyone else is feeling, too. And so how can we get more specific? I use the language sticky, how can we get more sticky with your examples, with the word pictures that you're painting, as far as what's bringing them in so that you can really display that empathy?
And then when it comes to what the work is going to look like, how can you describe what it's like to be in session with you, what it's like to be in a relationship with you beyond just the cookie cutter description of what therapy, you know, may or may not look like? How can you be sticky in the way that you talk about what your client is facing to display your level of understanding, just like sitting in the room with an addiction, you know, client in intake? "Have you been through this before? Show me." How can you show that and empathize in your copy? And then how can you talk about the work that you do in a way that says that is what I'm looking for?
Like, there's nothing better, and I love and celebrate every single time one of my clients gets off a consult and they say, "I called because I… like I visited your website and I knew you're the therapist for me right away I read your profile and it stood out to me." We need more of that because every single clinician, I believe this just completely, every clinician does something unique and offers something right to the right person. If we can get clear on what that is and put it forth in your marketing, you will get those experiences, you'll get those phone calls, we just have to figure out what that is.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. That's 100%. And that's also for those of you who are listening who are like, "I wanted to have a private pay practice." You've got to be able to do this because, otherwise, if I have insurance, but I really want to work on something specific, I'm going to call the person who takes my $10 copay every time unless you can really name exactly what I'm looking for. And that's really important. And I talk about that constantly because you cannot be a private pay practitioner and say my ideal client is women, my ideal client is anxiety. Like, you've got to get deeper and you've got to get more specific.
And what I teach people to do in my programs is talk about common diagnoses like anxiety, trauma, depression, without saying the words anxiety, trauma-
ANNA WALKER: Such a good exercise, yes.
PATRICK CASALE: Yes, because like that's just a brain dump because people will be like, "I don't understand. Like, I specialize in trauma, and anxiety, and depression." And it's like, "Okay." But I have been in the room with people so often who have definitely meet the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder and when you tell them that they're like, "I don't have anxiety." But when you break it down with examples of what it's like to experience anxiety they're like, "Oh, yeah, I check every single box."
So, it's just like, let's take a common diagnosis, anxiety, trauma, depression, and let's list for five to 10 minutes every experience and pain point, lived experience, struggle area, how it's impacting them at work, at home, in relationships, interpersonally, whatever, in the body, and let's list all of that out because once we can start writing like that, that's really when you start to capture day to day, then you can start to feel like that creativity kick in, and you can start using imagery, you can start using examples, you can start using, like media references, if that's your target audience. Like, we have clients or therapists in my group practice who specialize in millennials, their profiles are full of media references. Like, TV shows, music, movies, etc. And those people are calling them all day long.
But it really is because you have to be able to speak that language, and you have to be able to have the client feel safe enough to relate to what you're saying, to understand, like, this person truly gets what I'm going through. And that's why I'm going to pick up the phone and call them instead of like scrolling through Psychology Today, which is like match.com for therapy. And then like you're just calling 30 people and whoever calls you back first is going to be [CROSSTALK 00:16:03]-
ANNA WALKER: Yeah, hoping someone does call you back, right?
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, hoping someone calls you back, that could be a whole nother topic of podcast, and then like, and really typically, doesn't become a good fit, and you see them two or three times and they ghost you or they never come back, or they just terminate, and that's okay. But it's always because it's just not a good clinical fit. And that's because you're not allowing yourself to embrace that side where it's like, it's okay for this to be personal, it's okay for disclosure to happen within reason, I always use the asterisk, and it's okay to be authentic and relatable because that is how you are going to attract your ideal clients, and your niche, and your target population.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely. And it's how you show up in the room as an authentic human, right? So, why is it so hard? And I understand that it is, but if we can stop making it so hard to show up in your marketing as an authentic human then we've expedited the process, right? They don't have to get into the room with you to realize that you are this wonderful, empathetic, authentic, you know, human. They can know that before they even pick up the phone.
I think you've highlighted in another really interesting part around the idea of being private pay and that is really mainly who I support. I, of course, love and support clinicians who also accept insurance, but a lot of them are looking to de-panel for whatever reason or start private pay to begin with, and marketing in that world, you're right, it has to be more specific, and it has to be more sticky.
What I really want to empower clinicians around is that often the biggest pushback I get is, well, I like variety. I like a whole bunch of different types of clients, or I don't know yet what I want to like really hone in on. And what I really focus on is the fact that your niche can look and take a lot of different forms, it doesn't just have to be a really, really specific form of anxiety. It might be, but it also might be something else that you offer. If we can, again, get clear on what it is that helps you stand out, that can be your niche.
And so kind of breaking that traditional mold of a niche where it's just a problem, or a symptom, or a presenting issue and thinking about it in a little bit more creatively can liberate some of those clinicians that feel like "Well, I don't want to be bound by it by one particular label." Cool, then let's explore other angles we could take to still help you feel focused in your marketing.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely, absolutely. You can definitely niche down on your style and personality [CROSSTALK 00:18:25]-
ANNA WALKER: Yes, that too. Oh, man, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: …interweave like your clinical orientation and training for sure. Like, I have a union therapist who works for me, and he's a good friend, and he's the first therapist I hired and when he talks to me about what he does my eyes glaze over, I have no idea what the fuck he's talking about. I'm like, Zach is full, he's been on a waitlist for a year, clearly, you're doing something right. But I mean, so you can interweave your style into your niche for sure, and how you show up in the room.
And one thing that I would say about that is like, it's okay to say I want variety, for sure, and that's where I always use the Applebee's reference, they'll probably sue me at some point, but like, you can't market yourself if you don't know who you're marketing to. And if you can learn how to write content, I was just mentioning where if you can describe anxiety, depression, etc. I have coaching clients who are like, my niche is highly sensitive people in the BIPOC community. And then they'll write about the experiences without saying either of those terms. And everyone who reads it, I ask them, "Who's this person's niche? Who's this person's target pop?" They're like, "Oh, highly sensitive, BIPOC, et cetera."
Okay, so you've clearly gotten that down, and you're speaking to your ideal clientele, but then what happens is other people will read pieces of what you've written and they'll be like, "Oh, that's relatable to me. Like, I experience that thing. And I like the way you're saying it." And then you'll get those calls too.
So, you're really not casting a wide, wide net, but you aren't excluding everybody. And I think that's the common misconception with niching is that like, if I niche down, I am going to exclude everybody else. And that is not the reality if you can write content in a way that highlights either your personality, your style, or you're able to speak about issues in a way where you're not specifically just saying the issue over and over and over again.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely, that is so, so, so wonderful to point out that you can choose a niche, you can choose a very, very specific ideal client like that, and still get calls from people that don't check every one of those boxes. That is, I could not agree more the power of authentic sticky copy that if we can get that on paper, there are going to be people that are going to pick up bits and pieces of it and feel like, "Yep, I connect to that, I connect to that."
I always encourage my students that your ideal client doesn't have to read this and be 100%, accurate picture, perfect description of their experience, what it needs to be is offer enough that they can pick out those things and be like, "Okay, you, you've proven that you understand me." And that's the beautiful thing that if you can absolutely speak to people beyond that exact ideal client because they're still going to read those things, and feel seen and understood by those little bits. It doesn't have to be 100% match in order to actually be effective.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. And you're hardly ever going to be 100% match for anybody, I mean-
ANNA WALKER: Right, ever.
PATRICK CASALE: But the thing is, you're going to stand out more than the people who are not. And that's the thing that, you know, we're really trying to highlight here is that, you know, if you're able to creatively, you know, content create and create captivating content and copy in general, the reality is, you're going to stand out, you're going to get more calls, you're going to be a go to referral source because people are going to seek you out for a reason, it's going to lead to more website traffic, it's going to lead to more calls from whatever landing pages you're on. Because I'm telling you, and I'm sure Anna can relate, I have audited so many Psych Today profiles and websites that all sound the exact same, like you all got the same copy from the same place, and just plugged it in, and put your name on it. And you know, it's okay, what you don't know you don't know, I get it, but like, it does not help you stand out. And it just does not help get the phone ringing.
So, when I hear like, in my group, I'm really struggling to get client calls, I'm really struggling to get self-pay calls. I'm like, who's your niche? Who's your target audience? Let me review your stuff. And then it's like, I don't even know who you're talking to, so why would I call you and pay you X amount of money out of pocket if you don't know who you're talking to. And I think that is really crucial.
And then for group practice owners, you know, that's a different conversation, but again, similar in nature of like, your group practice website should have common themes. And then your About Me pages can be really individualistic. And I think that is something that gets missed a lot is About Me's, they read like resumes.
And I always try to encourage my clinicians to be themselves, like, share a little bit of your struggle, share a little bit of why you became a helper, share a little bit of your personality. Like, I don't want to hear about where you went to grad school, what trainings you went to, what certifications you have, we'll list that all at the bottom where nobody reads it anyway [CROSSTALK 00:23:04]-
ANNA WALKER: Yeah, right.
PATRICK CASALE: Like, it doesn't have to be front and center. It's just about highlighting personality, and the power of self-disclosure, people may say, "Oh, we're not supposed to self-disclose as therapists." I call bullshit on that because what that's doing, it's offering a light at the end of the tunnel for people. If I don't self-disclose that, like, I had a gambling addiction for 10 years that wreaked havoc on my life but now, I'm a successful entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, hasn't gambled since 2012, et cetera, what that person reads is like, thankfully, there's a fucking answer because I know how often in my life, I felt like there was no answer, and there was no getting out. And it just instills that hope, that little spark that's like something could be different. And that is the work that we are doing. And that is the work that we are selling.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely, absolutely. There's nothing like sitting in the therapy room with a therapist as the client and feeling validated, feeling like the way that I feel is okay. And again, we can start that process early, we can help that validation be experienced before they even pick up the phone and that connection start to form when we offer those little bits.
And yeah, you don't have to tell your entire life story, but those connection points that are so powerful and help that client feel like you're going to understand me, I'm not going to have to get into this room and explain myself are so, so powerful.
You mentioned group practices, and I know you obviously have a ton of experience in that world, the question I always oppose to my group practice clients because you have to think about not just of course, your individual expertise, but all of your individual clinicians and you know, their areas of passion, their areas of training, their own specialties and niches, the question I posed to them is what do you want to be a destination for? Do you want to be a destination for anxiety treatment because all of your clinicians have, you know, specialties in that area? Then maybe you are claiming one of those traditional niches, maybe instead you are that destination for the BIPOC community, a safe haven for marginalized communities, maybe you know, you're all trained in body-based techniques that most of your clients have been in therapy before and they're looking for something deeper.
Find that theme, find that thing you want to be the place to go for and that allows all of your clinicians to shine and lean into their own areas of specialty and niche, while you as a group practice have a unified, focused message that makes you feel like you're still a premium destination or something.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that's a great advice for everyone listening. I think that's really well said.
And another thing that comes up around this topic is like, I think some people have this like, mentality of finality in a way of like, if I choose this niche today that defines the entirety of my career. And your niche is going to evolve. And if you really do buy into the concept that your niche is a version of you in some way or form because you've gotten to this work for a reason, most of us because we've had our own experiences that brought us into the helping world, and your career is going to evolve, just like you're going to evolve as a person. And although my niche started as young adult men struggling with addiction, it became young adults who were struggling with attachment trauma, and not feeling good enough, and not feeling like they were getting their needs met to high overachieving entrepreneurs who are very perfectionistic and have a high propensity for burnout.
And it just changes over time as your interests change over time. And that's okay. And it's absolutely okay to say today, this is what I'm interested in. And in six months, I may not be interested in that anymore. And in a year, you are going to have to do some rebranding to some extent, but it is absolutely a part of the process. And I don't know a lot of people were like, I started this today, 30 years later, this is where I ended up, I don't think that's the generation anymore that we have, our interests change so drastically. So, embrace that.
And then when you're feeling really energized, that's when you're going to create better content. And that's where you're going to market yourself in a more authentic way. And when it's no longer feeling that way, it's time to reevaluate and say, do I feel interested in a different population? It's also okay to have multiple niches. But what is a struggle area is when you say I have 10. And it's like, okay, well, how do we get an authentic voice for 10 different populations? It's quite hard.
Another struggle is like, I want to niche around kids and adults, but on Psych Today, I can't do both. Like, you have a word count, you have like a character limit, you just have to choose one. It's really challenging to say I work with kids, adults, teens, seniors, all in 360 characters. Like, that's not going to happen. Save that for your website, save that for different service pages that you have, save it for TherapyDen or something else, but really, really trying hard to get narrowed in.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely. So important on Psych Today, in particular, too. That's exactly what I coach my students in as well, is if you have niches or specialty areas that feel distinct from one another, if they're disparate and separated, yes, write a Psych Today profile dedicated to just one of them because when you try and write one that encapsulates everyone, that's when you end up sounding like a generalist and like every other profile out there. So, don't be afraid to be specific.
Your Psych Today profile also does not have to, it can't, right? It's like 1000 characters, you know? It's three paragraphs of content, it can't, you know, convey everything about the work that you do.
So, I think folks really struggle sometimes with, "Well, this doesn't describe everything." It doesn't have to, it doesn't have to, right? It needs to connect to the client that you're targeting here at the right time, at their point of need. You are so much bigger than that. And like you said, your niche should evolve. If it hasn't, I'm concerned. You are learning as you work with, you know, your ideal clients and non-ideal clients, you're learning more about where you do your best work, what energizes you, and that might change over time, and you're going to refine that. And clinicians do get scared around that, "Well, I'm just locked in. I'm married to this for the rest of my career."
So often, I think it's just kind of this like, journey, you know? You're just kind of making your way through it. And there's slight evolutions and small pivots. Very rarely are you doing like 180 U-turns in your practice? I mean, the three ideal clients that you just described on your own journey, Patrick? Yeah, are they distinct from one other? Sure. But is there a thread? Are there commonalities between all of them? Absolutely. So, that's allowed to change and it should, and that should actually be exciting. You're not committed or locked into this. This is simply a place to grow from and that's a beautiful thing.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I agree. 100%, spot on. I think that, you know, this is an evolutionary process and you're going to grow, you're going to change your passions, and interests are going to change. I like to do an exercise which makes people uncomfortable where we make columns A, B, and C, and column A is strictly for the pain points, characteristics, traits, that light you up, that energize the shit out of you, that make you excited to be a therapist, and you look at the clock and 50 minutes has gone by. Column B, these are the things I'm really good at, but I'm indifferent to them. And column C is I don't like working with this at all. Because I think you have to know all of those.
And I most importantly, think you have to know column C, like, you have to know the struggle areas that you do not enjoy because that is the beauty of private practice ownership is building really good networking and referral relationships so that when someone on column C calls and you just don't feel like you're a good fit for whatever reason, instead of feeling guilty, and just saying, "Okay, I'm just going to take this person on." Then two weeks later, you're looking at your calendar, like, "Fuck, why did I do this to myself?" You just refer them to the appropriate landing spot.
And that's all clients want, they just want to be called back and referred to the appropriate landing spot. I know there's a lot of guilt around that, I know that brings up a lot of shame for a lot of you. But I promise you, it's more internalized than you think because ultimately, what's happening is you're feeling guilty for turning a client away, when in reality, that client just wants to know someone's going to get it. And if that's someone isn't you, and you're going to take it on anyway, you're kind of doing another disservice to both of you. And I think that it's much more clinically sound to just refer them to someone where you're like, I know, this group practice specializes in A, B, C and that's a great spot for you. And people really appreciate that way more than you would think. So, I just want to leave that information there as well.
ANNA WALKER: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I always say just because you can doesn't mean you should, just because you can treat this doesn't mean you're the right person to do it. There are people that you are a great fit for, and there are people that you aren't, and you're doing a great service to both of them if you communicate that and refer out when you could.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. Any last-second advice for anyone listening or anything else that we didn't cover you think?
ANNA WALKER: Oh, man, I think we've had a wonderful conversation here. Really what this comes down to and what this whole process that you and I have chatted through here, Patrick comes down to do you know why you are the right therapist for the right client? And that is actually sort of reverse of what some of the advice you'll find out there like, well, first focus on your ideal client. Yeah, but why are you the best person for the right client? So, figure that out, then we'll figure out who that person is. When we can marry those two together, you will have the grounds for that authentic copy that is standing out to people and those phone calls you get off of where they're like, "I know you're the therapist for me, I don't care what it's going to take. When can we start?' That is what it starts with.
PATRICK CASALE: I love it. That was really well said and this was a great conversation. I hope this was helpful for everyone listening. And Anna, please just tell the audience where they can find more of what you've got going on.
ANNA WALKER: Yeah, absolutely. You can learn all about my different programs and services at walkerstrategyco.com or jump in if you're not yet to our Facebook community. I think it's one of the best communities on the Internet called Get Booked Out, as Patrick mentioned at the top of the episode. We'd love to have you in there, free trainings, resources, tons of great advice, and just a wonderful community.
PATRICK CASALE: Love it. Thank you so much for sharing that and all of that information will be in the show notes so that you have easy access to what Anna is offering and just thanks again for making the time and coming on.
ANNA WALKER: Absolutely, thanks so much for having me, Patrick.
PATRICK CASALE: To everyone listening to the All Things Private Practice Podcast, new episodes are out every single week on all major platforms and YouTube. Like, download, subscribe, and share. Doubt yourself, do it anyway. See you next week.
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