Episode 61: The Power of SEO & Authenticity for Therapy Websites [featuring Nick Fuller]
So you built a private practice for your therapy services, created a Psychology Today profile, and made a website (or maybe you skipped some of these), but clients aren't calling. If you're wondering what you're missing that all the therapists who have full practices have, you might want to start with, first, can clients find you online, and, second, can they relate to you? That's where SEO and Authenticity will play a big role in your business.
In this episode, I talk with Nick Fuller, SEO specialist and website designer for therapists, and owner of iTherapy, about what it takes to make therapy websites show up on the first page of Google and other online search engines, as well as how to get steady client calls.
More about Nick:
Nick Fuller from iTherapy has been an entrepreneur and web developer for almost a decade and has worked almost exclusively with mental health professionals since 2016. He not only brings a wealth of small business and technical experience to the conversation, but he also has a great way of communicating tech concepts in easy-to-understand ways.
Nick's Services: itherapy.com/websites
Nick's Courses: itherapy.com/courses
A Thanks to Our Sponsor!
I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode.
Chances are you've paid special attention to making sure your clients feel welcomed and at ease from the moment they walk into your practice's space. Make sure you don't overlook one very important step, their check-in experience.
The Receptionist for iPad is the highest-rated digital check-in software for therapy offices and behavioral health clinics, used by thousands of practitioners across the country.
The Receptionist for iPad is a simple, inexpensive way to allow your clients to discreetly check in, notify providers of a patient’s arrival, and ensure your front lobby is stress-free.
The software sends an immediate notification to the therapist when a client checks in, and can even ask if any patient information has changed since their last visit.
Sign up for a 14-day free trial of The Receptionist for iPad by going to thereceptionist.com/privatepractice, and when you do, you’ll also receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
PATRICK CASALE: Are you tired of running to the lobby to see if your next appointment has arrived? Would you like a more discreet, stress-free way for your clients to check in? Take a deep breath. The Receptionist for iPad empowers your practice to create a Zen-like check-in experience.
This episode is sponsored by The Receptionist for iPad. It's the highest-rated digital check-in software for therapy offices and behavioral health clinics used by thousands of practitioners across the country.
The Receptionist for iPad is a simple, inexpensive way to allow your clients to discreetly check-in, to notify providers of a patient's arrival, and to ensure your front lobby is stress-free. The software sends an immediate notification to the therapist when a client checks in and can even ask if any patient information has changed since their last visit.
Start a 30-day free trial by going to thereceptionist.com/privatepractice. That's thereceptionist.com/privatepractice. When you sign up, you'll get your first 30 free days.
Hey, everyone, you are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale, joined today by Nick Fuller. He is the owner of iTherapy services. He's a web designer and SEO specialist helping therapist's kind of get their brand out there, get recognized, and be visible. And we're going to talk a little bit about why all these things are important. And Nick, I'm really happy to have you on, so thanks for making the time.
NICK FULLER: Thank you, Patrick. I'm happy to be here too.
PATRICK CASALE: So, before Nick and I started recording we were talking about our mutual fandom and nerdism of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He showed me his Hobbit slippers, I showed him my pictures in the office. So, that's kind of what you're in store for today. And we're going to talk about a topic that's important but, you know, I think that is easily glanced over and sometimes very undervalued, for some reason.
And Nick, take it away with like, why did you create a business that's helping and supporting therapist's kind of get their websites out there and be more visible?
NICK FULLER: Absolutely, yeah. Well, strap in this is going to be a long one, but…
PATRICK CASALE: Just like the Lord of the Rings movies, exactly, right? Just like the fucking Lord of the Rings movies.
NICK FULLER: I love it, yeah. I want to like throw in as much Lord of the Rings part. For those that are listening, by the way, and not like watching on YouTube, Patrick has this huge like, picture of like a hobbit hole door like right out of Bilbo's, you know, home. It's wonderful. I love this, okay.
PATRICK CASALE: During COVID, I just want to say, and I should take pictures of this, not to interrupt you, but my ADHD is all over the place right now is like I bought… when I got my stimulus money the first time and I was like, "Yeah, I got $1,200." I bought this fucking Eye of Sauron firepit from Canada and it is in my backyard, and-
NICK FULLER: [CROSSTALK 00:02:43].
PATRICK CASALE: And when it lights up it's amazing.
NICK FULLER: Oh my God.
PATRICK CASALE: And guess how many times I've used it?
NICK FULLER: Maybe once [CROSSTALK 00:02:48].
PATRICK CASALE: Three times, three fucking times.
NICK FULLER: It's still worth, oh my God [CROSSTALK 00:02:53].
PATRICK CASALE: Even going in my backyard and seeing it, I'm like, "Yeah, this is really cool. I'm going to have a fire." And that just never happens.
NICK FULLER: I almost bought a sting at a convention and I never did. And I should have got it. I'm going to get one, like, definitely some… because they always have them at like the MegaCon, and Dragon Con, and whatnot. I was going to be, I was like, "No, I'll do it, like, after I finish, like, writing my next novel." And then like, I just haven't gotten there. I did one and haven't gotten to the second one yet. Someday, someday, one day.
PATRICK CASALE: One day. So, anyway, take it away-
NICK FULLER: Oh, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: …with why iTherapy? Why did this kind of come to fruition? And how did this get created? What's the kind of story behind that?
NICK FULLER: So yeah, we're going to begin with the story of iTherapy. iTherapy's story did not start with me, actually. iTherapy was founded by a couple named Forrest Pulley and Carol Pulley. Carol's a clinician, Forrest has business background. They actually started kind of in the early days of online stuff, right? I think like 2010, maybe a little bit earlier. They lived in rural North Carolina. And she would have to drive forever to kind of go connect with clients. But she started doing research and finding out that even at that time, there were some HIPAA-compliant options available. And so, she bundled together different services that she would need to do like most of her work remote way back in 2010, right? And she got it working.
And then, a lot of her, like, kind of friends and colleagues were saying, "What are you doing? This is amazing. How do I do this?" Right? And that was kind of like the genesis of iTherapy, right? Bundle together these different HIPAA-compliant services so that therapists could work remote, right?
That's been the beginning. They've built it up over time. I got involved in 2016. They were looking to update their website and kind of have someone a little bit more technical to be a part of it, you know, that sort of thing. And that's been kind of the core of iTherapy, again, is this… We try to pick out what we think are the best services out there in terms of everything that you're going to need to be HIPAA compliant and do great work from remote, but as we've kind of evolved, a couple things have happened. Number one, Forrest is 72. And he's like wanting to retire first, like third time. So, he's like, "Nick, you really need to buy this company from me." And I'm like, "Okay, I guess I will."
And then secondly, you know, kind of bringing in more of my background and doing the web development, we've been offering that to therapists for a few years as well, that and search engine optimization.
So, we've got, you know, got it all kind of dialed in. And the overall kind of goal is to make it where, you know, certainly there's lots of different coaches that will help you start a private practice, but we take a little slightly different approach where we're trying to do some of that work for you, right? And that's kind of where we're at, where our mind's at. We're always looking for, like, are there more things that we can do?
We have a clinical consult peer group, which shows you like, subscribe with iTherapy. You get to be a part of this clinical consult peer group and talk about, you know, challenging issues, that sort of thing. So, yeah, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: That's pretty cool. Is there any sort of underlying, like, passion or like, really, the excitement around helping therapist's and being involved in the mental health community?
NICK FULLER: Right, yeah, because I'm like the one guy that's, like, doing things that's not a therapist, right? That's how I feel sometimes. But yeah, well, so look, I've been on the other side of the couch, right? And I've, you know, gone through therapy, and it's definitely, I think I can say life-changing, yeah. It's important. So, I value the work that's done. I've, you know, over the years, so many clients and like, just occasionally, of course, they're not divulging any personally identifiable information. They're like, "Man, I had this one client that, you know, I had a client that killed myself." I'm like, "Killed themselves? The client? How do you do that? Like, how do you through that with a client and get up and like the next day and work with another?
Like, the work that that therapists do I respect so much. It's so important, so vital, I'm happy to be able to contribute in a way, but also happy that my idea of a bad day with my client is a website goes down, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. So very different, but still in the helping field and helping people who are obviously having a major impact on society. And a major impact on society doesn't happen without visibility, right, without the ability to access services? And I think as we've moved into more of an online virtual telehealth era, we are realizing the importance of having a good website, having good SEO.
But I think and maybe you run into the same dilemma is that therapists starting out coming out of community mental health agencies, especially, don't always have the financial resources to build a nice website, to invest in SEO services. And they kind of flounder because they're saying, like, "I've got a Psychology Today profile, but nobody's calling me." And do you run into that a lot with therapists starting out?
NICK FULLER: Yeah, of course, right? And I think, like, I mean, it's sort of the broader issue of those, of course, no training whatsoever in terms of running a practice with all the schooling, right? So yeah, like, I can't tell you how many people have been like, either I got my Psychology profile, but I'm not getting any client at all." It's like, "Okay." Or they think that if they launch a website and just put out a website, do nothing else that like, somehow that website is a magic ring, you know, that's going to another reference. Maybe not the best reference but I had to get it in somehow.
Anyway. So, but sadly, it doesn't work that way. And but if you do come at things with a strategy, that can be a lot more effective, and it's surprisingly easy, if you kind of have a little bit of understanding of what to do, right?
PATRICK CASALE: Yes, that's so spot on. And what I think happens is not just the Psych Today piece, which it's just one small, small, small piece of the puzzle, it is not even that important, especially, in saturated markets, where there's like page after page after page of therapists and it's like match.com for therapist.
NICK FULLER: Keep swiping right, keep swiping right.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, yeah. Look at the picture, maybe read the content, call you if like, I'll call the first 20 people, see who calls me back first. That's not a great way to capture a consistent stream of clients, so and you're right, like, put the therapy website up and just assume it's going to do the work without, like, blogging, without making good content on the website.
You mentioned before we recorded, like, therapists who thinks they don't even need text on the website like, and then they get intimidated by what do I put on there, and a big one, obviously, and I know you encounter this is like, what the hell is SEO? What does that even mean? And people get really lost in that.
And in the therapist, community, especially in Facebook groups, you see a lot of people jump in when people are asking for SEO and web design guidance. And you have so many people coming out of the woodwork, like, I offer that service on the side, or I do this thing, I can help do this thing. And that's great. But you do get what you pay for. And you really want to have someone who's knowledgeable, because if you're going to invest in a website and SEO, you want it to work. And if you're going to use your resources, you need to hire someone who really understands that world. So, when you say, just putting up a therapy site isn't the end all be all, what do therapists need to be doing to make sure that people are finding them?
NICK FULLER: Yeah, yeah, great question and I love, you know, what is SEO? But when you're putting up the website, you know, again, it's not the end all be all, it's not, you know, a magic wand, and it's not going to suddenly sell your practice.
The website on its own isn't going to, like, no one's going to know that your website exists just by launching it, right? So, a good website, it's like a conversion machine, that's the term that I use a lot, right? So, you'll be driving traffic to the website through, you know, any number of different things that you want to do. But a lot of like, pretty much everything that you're doing online is likely going to go through that website. And then, you're driving everyone on that website to go take an action, you're making what we call calls to action, right? And that action's probably going to be like a free consult, right?
So, on that website, you know, you want to have language that actually is connecting with those ideal clients, you're starting to build that therapeutic relationship. If you're doing a good job, this is pro tip number one, guys, all right? If you're doing a good job on your website of communicating your ideal client's challenges better than they even can communicate the challenge, that ideal client is going to go, "Holy shit, Patrick gets me. I need to be working with Patrick because like, I mean, he just said it better than I could." You know?
There's three things that I try to do on a website, right? Talk about what they're going through, talk about their goals, and then, make the case that you can help them reach those goals. If you're doing a good job with number one, that's huge. If you can talk about their goals, too, then number three is really just putting a contact form on your page, you know, like, easy peasy.
Now, search engine optimization, that's SEO, by the way, search engine optimization, all right?
PATRICK CASALE: Write it down if you're listening. I know you're going to ask that question in one of the big therapist's groups at some point in time.
NICK FULLER: There's a quiz at the end [INDISCERNIBLE 00:12:15]. Yeah, search engine optimization. So, if you went and Googled, you know, therapists in… I live in Wilmington, North Carolina. So, therapist in Wilmington, right? There's a couple of different results that you see. At the top is going to be the ads, and we'll all see ads. And that's not search engine optimization, that's a slightly different thing called search engine marketing.
Below that, there's going to be a map, and like on that map it show like kind of different offices around. That's kind of search engine optimization, those are what we call the local results, that's a little bit of a different thing that's related but a little bit different. So, we're going to set that aside.
Now below that is the thing that I know when I'm doing a search, that's the part that, like, I'm usually most interested in, that's what we call the organic results, right? And that is where your search engine optimization like matters, and you'll see the effect.
So again, if I'm searching something like therapist in Wilmington, my work as a search engine optimizer is going to be working on your site to make sure when somebody else was searching for that yours is one of the first to pop up. Ideally, the first to pop up, you know?
PATRICK CASALE: And that is so important because as human beings we are much more likely to click on the things that pop up immediately instead of scrolling through page after page after page. And I like to always equate that for people who still don't understand what this means. If you search restaurant near me, see what pops up, right? And the likelihood of you clicking on the first couple of things in organic search results are much more likely than page five. And you may not even get to page two, because you're like, oh, this popped up immediately, it has good reviews, I'm going there. And I think that's really important to think about it in that context.
So, you're popping up, ideally, you know, at the top of that list, then what? Like, what comes next? What's really important?
NICK FULLER: So yeah, I mean, well, from there, obviously, that traffic is going to get onto your website, you got to make sure you're having good calls to action, that sort of thing. But getting there is kind of, you know, getting there being pop up is a little bit, you know, there's some work involved, right?
I love what you were saying it's like, you know, you get what you pay for. And I think that it's really important, you know, how many… I know that, you know, you've had this experience too, Patrick, tell me, it's like people spend money on some kind of marketing service, and they have no idea what that person is doing, right?
PATRICK CASALE: All the time. And because most therapists don't speak in that language when they're being sold any sort of marketing service, especially, by some companies that shall not be named, they don't even understand what they're paying for and they're being taken advantage of most of the time because they just don't know the know-how, right? Like, it's like, we're going to do X, Y, and Z for you, you're going to get all these client calls coming in, but we don't even know the strategy behind it. We don't know the behind-the-scenes, and we're just paying thousands of dollars a month. And all of a sudden, you have this negative association with marketing strategists and web designers, because you got taken advantage of, you didn't get the results you paid for, and now you're in maybe some significant debt, because the calls are just not coming in.
NICK FULLER: Right, yeah, well said. So, I want to tell you guys just a little bit about what goes on in SEO, the kind of work that I'm going to do, and so that you can ask informed questions, whether you want to talk to me about doing SEO or you want to talk to anyone else, if anyone's going to say, "Oh, we do SEO." You know, let me tell you a little bit.
All right. So, there's three parts to SEO. Any good SEO strategy is going to have these three parts. Anyone that's serious about doing SEO is going to do these three parts, right? Number one, keyword research. So, I kept mentioning kind of therapy in Wilmington, right? That's different than even therapists in Wilmington, or CBT in Wilmington, or EMDR in Raleigh, or also different than like CBT in Wilmington, NC, which is, again, different than CBT in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Google treats every single one of those things that I just said as separate different keywords. That's kind of cool from, especially, my perspective, because that means each of those is a different opportunity. I could build a website, probably, then definitely, eventually, that ranks for each of those different things. But I probably would have a different page to go rank for each of those different things, you know?
Yeah, so keyword research is important. If you don't know what people are actually searching for and you don't know how competitive that keyword is, then you're shooting in the wind, you know? You have, like, there's no strategy if you don't have keyword research, right?
Number two is what we call on-page optimization, which is kind of like a fancy, you know, term that really just means doing the things on the actual page on the website to try to let Google and the other search engines know, "Hey, I'm trying to rank for therapy in Wilmington." Right? And some of those are a little bit technical in the background, but some of them are super, like, bonehead. Like, just making sure that if you're trying to rank for therapy in Wilmington, that you actually have that phrase on the page, you know, that turns out that's important. Who would have thought?
PATRICK CASALE: And that leads into a great point and segue because a lot of clinicians struggle with writing content. And then they're like, how do I incorporate that phrase without it sounding like too salesy or like infomercialy?
NICK FULLER: I mean, that's the trick, right? That sometimes that is the trick. You know, one of the things, like, if it's that sort of thing, and like, I will often try to say, like, speaking with the therapists voice here, but I offer therapy in Wilmington, North Carolina, or, if you're searching for therapy in Wilmington, North Carolina, I'm happy to help. Like, we kind of just need to get creative and try to do those sorts of things, because yeah, like, you don't want to do keyword stuffing, and just like plant that keyword in every other sentence just as it is, you know? That's not going to… Google's going to sniff that out and be like, "Ah, ah." You know?
PATRICK CASALE: And the people who read it are going to be like, "Yeah, this doesn't speak to me."
NICK FULLER: Right? Yeah, I mean, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:18:11] truly, truly, like, I find that to be a challenge too, because you really want to have, you know, content that your ideal client reading is going to be like, "Again, damn, like, Patrick understands me." Right? And there may be like, a little bit of an interruption on that flow by having some keywords. So, like, it is a balancing act between these two genuinely competing goals, you know, trying to kind of, you know, put on that creativity hat and kind of how can I make this work is your best bet, you know, some of those strategies. Like I am a therapist, and like that sort of thing, that can work.
But one other thing, I've heard from other coaches that they don't ever want to see like the about page written in a third person, and like, they want you to say, "I am this…" You know, whatever. And I get that, but if you want to rank for your own name, like for example, you have a fairly unique name that probably you could go rank for, if you're not already, you know? If your name is Jane Smith, like good luck trying to rank for that, or if it was Jennifer Aniston, like, you're not going to rank for that, right?
But yeah, but if you want to rank for your name, then you probably should write that about page in the third person and have it say, like, About Patrick, you know, and Patrick likes this, Patrick that you know. But you know, that's a choice that you have to make, you know. What do I think is more important?
PATRICK CASALE: You do, okay.
NICK FULLER: Yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: That's such a great point and I think that's really important for people listening because I teach people to not write their about pages like resumes because I don't give a shit where you went to school, like what theories you used, what conceptualization. Like normal, everyday human beings don't talk like that. But I do agree with using that name and just saying it again and again. Like, for example on our pages for my group practice, it does speak like that. Like, Patrick recovered from gambling addiction and struggled with A, B, and C. But like, it's a very real conversation. It's not Patrick went to school at Lenore Ryan, where he got a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling, and believes in these ideas and theories. It's like no, no, stop doing that.
NICK FULLER: Yeah, Patrick creates a safe space for… wow, yeah.
PATRICK CASALE: Patrick creates a non-judgmental, safe space where he will walk alongside you and your trauma history and make sure that you feel supported and heard.
NICK FULLER: You know, that's putting a lot of words [CROSSTALK 00:20:31].
PATRICK CASALE: It's the same thing over and over and over.
NICK FULLER: Yeah, exactly.
PATRICK CASALE: And nobody's searching for that, right? Like, so that's important to pay attention to, is like, nobody is searching for those terms or keywords.
NICK FULLER: I love that you mentioned, you know, that you're kind of sharing, like, hey, Patrick, you overcame gambling addiction because that's the kind of stuff where someone's going to be like, "Oh, shit." Like, you know, someone's going to connect with that.
And we were talking before… Well, let me get, well, I want to come back to this. The third point, you know, I might have some ADHD also, I'm not diagnosed, but, you know, anyway.
The third point of SEO is link building, right? So basically, the idea of link building is just the more links you have to your website, and especially, like, any pages where you're trying to rank on specific keywords, the better. The search engines use that as a metric for how good a website is, basically, which at first, you're like, that's dumb. But if you think about it, it does make sense. They have to pick something. And whether it's like a cat meme, or a great New York Times article, if we like it, we're probably going to share it with someone, right?
So, links are really important, lots of different opportunities for getting links. You know, you can maybe talk with other colleagues and have them kind of link over to your page, that sort of thing, that's some of the work that we do, is try to help people build links, you know?
So, keyword research, on-page optimization, and the link building. If anyone ever talks to you about doing SEO, you should ask them what kind of keywords do you think we should rank for? Like, what's your keyword research strategy, right? And then, also, what's that link-building strategy? So many people that offer SEO, I'm doing air quotes, like, they really only do some of that on-page optimization and they're doing it, again, kind of shooting in the wind without even aiming because they haven't done any keyword research to know what to try to rank for.
PATRICK CASALE: So, so important, and don't be intimidated by the fact that you don't know everything about SEO when you're hiring an SEO specialist, listening to Nick's points, if you can write those down and simply ask those questions and see what the answers are. I also do think it's important sometimes to have SEO specialists who know the mental health world, because it's just a unique situation. And I would rather hire someone like Nick or Jessica Tappana in Simplified SEO and people like that who get the therapist communities at large.
So, think about that as well, because again, keyword research is so crucial. And even a simple keyword research strategy, I think, is like predictive text in Google, right? Like, if you start typing therapist near me or therapist, see what else pops up immediately in the predictive text. That's probably what a lot of people in your area are searching for. And you're never going to outrank Psych Today, you're never going to outrank BetterHelp, so don't get concerned about like, but those platforms are ahead of me. Yeah, of course, they're ahead of you. They have millions, if not billions of dollars to spend on advertising. So, don't get overwhelmed by that process, either.
NICK FULLER: Yeah, yeah. You know, well said. And yeah, it's interesting, it's just kind of do more and more of the work kind of discovering, like certain things that work in one place and things that won't work in another, you know. If you're in kind of like a suburban area, I worked with one woman that was in one of the suburban area of like, the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and just like doing a little bit of keyword research and figuring out, hey, there's opportunity to go rank for like therapy in your suburban area, and she did those unpaid optimizations. And that was like, for her that was all she needed to do, you know?
Or I've worked with other clients that are in New York City, what a crazy market that is because, you know, people will be searching like online EMDR in NYC and by the way, people in New York City always search NYC. They don't search, like New York, they don't type that out. You know, it's yeah [INDISCERNIBLE 00:24:10].
PATRICK CASALE: I'm from New York, very much prideful about… people from New York City are very prideful about being from the boroughs. They're not searching for like EMDR therapy in New York City, or EMDR therapy in the Bronx. It's like EMDR in New York City, or NYC, like Nick said. It's really important to think about this stuff. And it's so unique to every location and I think that's something people need to take into consideration is like, what works in Asheville, North Carolina is probably not going to work in Wilmington, North Carolina. And if you're trying to build SEO, what do you think about like starting locally, comparatively, to a lot of people who are like, "I'm going to do the entire state at first."
NICK FULLER: I was like, you've cued me up perfectly Patrick, because that was exactly what I was going to say. Like, even if you're-
PATRICK CASALE: We're fighting so hard today, man. This is a…
NICK FULLER: Even if you want to do, you know, online therapy and you can go target like a whole state, I get that. But generally speaking, people aren't searching on a state basis, right? They are searching on a local basis. So, listen, like, I mean, if you're, let's say that you're in Asheville, there's no reason if you're offering online therapy you can't go make a page that targets Wilmington, also, you know? Every page can target a different keyword, you know? That seems like an opportunity doing your keyword research, you can go do that. But it is highly recommended to focus on local areas, because the competition is so much reduced.
If you're just trying to search or rank for something like EMDR therapy, full stop, nothing else, that's tough, you know, because then you're very much competing not only with Psychology Today and BetterHelp, but also, probably, like, some universities and that sort of thing, you know?
But I love what you were talking about too about the content on the page and like connecting with people. And I think that you had recently rewritten some content and [INDISCERNIBLE 00:25:58] things, right? I want to hear more about that.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, thanks for cueing me up. Now I can do shameless self-promotion.
NICK FULLER: I want to hear more of that.
PATRICK CASALE: You know, I'm a private practice coach as well as a therapist, so I teach, therapists how to write their content all the time, and I'm not going to lie to all of you listening, and some of you have hired me for this, 99% of your stuff sucks. And the reality is, my stuff sucked, too. Like, so that is… my coaching style has always been about like, what mistakes have I made, and what have I learned along the way about what works and what doesn't?
And, you know, I was the person at first who had a website that was like, very generic, I walk alongside you, I get the struggle, blah, blah, blah, then I started realizing like, that's not what people want. People want relatability, they want to feel heard, they want to feel seen, they want to also know that you get it. Like, and therapists so often default to this, like blank slate robotic grad school said, I can't do these things. And it's like, no, you can absolutely highlight your personality. And you can be authentic.
So, I teach therapists to do that and embrace their authenticity because it's really important. And that's what clients are drawn to. They're not drawn to generic, every website looks the same, because why would they be but if you speak in like everyday language, and use real examples, and like, so what Nick is referencing is my coaching website, allthingspractice.com, go there if you want me to help you write your stuff, or you want coaching, or you want to come to my retreat. You know, it's [CROSSTALK 00:27:27].
NICK FULLER: …New Zealand, oh my God.
PATRICK CASALE: I have that in the works, man. And we can co-host it. We could be doing like Souderton like visit, fuck the business building. We're just going to [INDISCERNIBLE 00:27:38] we're staying outside The Hobbit village for a week and that is all we're doing.
NICK FULLER: I am there.
PATRICK CASALE: All right, so my coaching website, I think I was playing it safe for a long time when I came into this industry. There's a lot of, you know, big name practice coaches, and I was kind of intimidated about like, what do I offer that's different. But what I realized what I offer that's different is just being authentic, and being real, and speaking the way that I speak. I curse a lot, there's a lot of cursing in my content creation. But I started referencing like, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones stuff, because I watch a lot of that stuff. But I think there's so many good reference points of like, I started writing my copy about, like, going on an adventure and running out of The Hobbit hole into the world and like being scared about it, but doing it anyway.
And having that guide, you know, that "Gandalf" who's like pushing you and full of wisdom, but also like, a human and making mistakes. And, you know, I think that's really important. And I'm going to attract a certain clientele and certain people are not going to want to work with me, and that is okay.
NICK FULLER: You're going to attract me, that's [CROSSTALK 00:28:41].
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, exactly. So, Nick is signing up for my next coaching program already. And then like, on our group practice page, you know, when I hire my clinicians, they're really surprised when I'm like, "I want you to be yourself, I want you to talk about your own struggle." And you know, not like going down the entire story, because we're not doing it for self-serving purposes. But if I can talk about my gambling addiction, if I can talk about being an autistic ADHD therapist and entrepreneur, it normalizes and destigmatizes the human experience. And that also offers light at the end of the tunnel to say, there's hope for me to have my life turn out differently or at least do some healing work, right?
NICK FULLER: Exactly.
PATRICK CASALE: And if we can write like that, right? If we can capture that attention, and elicit that emotional response, we are showing the client that we get it. So, if I land on my website, and maybe I'm partial and biased a little bit, comparatively, to a website like we're talking about the odds of me clicking more through the website on something that speaks to my experience is much more likely than the generic this is, you know, I can't write any other way, I'm not allowed to, I can't be myself, I can't highlight the struggle.
So, I really want all of you to hear that. And in all of the coaching that I do, the coaching clients of mine that do those things are full weightless starting group practices, and the ones who don't take my advice and may be floundering still, and that's okay. I mean, it's just a matter of embracing the fact that you as helpers know your client's struggle. And I still believe to this day that your ideal clients are versions of you. And if you're versions of you, you know, the fucking struggle, you know why somebody is going to pick up the phone and ask for therapy, you just need to translate that in a language that is not full of diagnostic terminology, acronyms, and theoretical orientation because nobody fucking speaks like that.
NICK FULLER: Well said, well said. Yeah, yeah. I'm going to go ahead and I'm going poop on Brighter Vision just a little bit. But you know, Brighter Vision has their canned text content that you get when you sign up for Brighter Vision site. So, imagine, like, you know, Patrick, imagine, listener, dear listener, that you're Patrick's ideal client, right? And you see Brighter Vision kind of generic stuff, or you see Patrick stuff? If you're Patrick's ideal client, it's a total no-brainer. You're going to be like, of course, I'm going to work with Patrick. Like, he gets it. And like, he sounds cool. He sounds like someone I want to talk to, and like [CROSSTALK 00:31:08]-
PATRICK CASALE: …nerd who's also like me.
NICK FULLER: Right, exactly. Like, he can probably joke too, I'm assuming but you know, sounds like me. We can joke about not getting a lot of dates in high school together because we were too busy with Lord of the Rings, you know?.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah. And my social awkwardness. I can joke about all of it. And I want it to be relatable. And that's such a good comparison. And, you know, Brighter Vision, I have my thoughts. But nevertheless, you know, not trying to knock you, don't come sue me, thanks.
But nevertheless, like, I do think that relatability is huge. And I think that if you want a private pay practice you cannot speak generically. You cannot speak to everybody, you really have to know your client's struggles because why would I call you and pay you $150, $200 out of pocket if you don't get it and if you're just speaking to everybody? I am going to call the person who is speaking in my language, who is using examples that resonate, who is willing to be more authentic and real because I have government health insurance. My wife works for the U.S. government. We have wonderful health insurance.
I am paying my therapist $200 out of pocket because she is an IFS therapist who specializes in neurodivergent entrepreneurs. I'm like, "Yep, I'm sold, I'm in. I mean, this is the support that I need, right?" And that's the reality, is like, I am willing to pay her although I have a fucking $10 copay. By the way, I've been submitting Superbills, BlueCross has been sending me checks for $37. It's really wonderful. I'm like, "What is this? Like, this has to be a joke."
NICK FULLER: I don't know if wonderful is the word I'd use.
PATRICK CASALE: It's not wonderful, it sucks. But you know, I am willing to pay this person because ultimately, she gets what I need and she understands the experience. And I cannot tell you, for everyone listening, how powerful that is to capture that before I've even met this person.
So, your content creation on your website is instantaneous rapport building. It's instantaneous connection and accessibility. But if you don't speak the language, if you get stuck in the, I'm trying to prove my competency, write my website like a resume, I just don't think you're going to get the calls. And if you do get the calls, it's going to be sporadic. And it's not going to be because of anything that you've done intentionally.
PATRICK CASALE: Or yeah, it may even be, yeah, so I love so much of everything you're saying. But yeah, I run into a lot of like so many clients being like, "Well, I think my ideal client is this, but I am worried that it's too specific or whatever." And like so many clients, so many therapists are trying to cast this wide net thinking that's going to help them fill their practice. And it's so paradoxical because that's not the way to do it, right? The more honed in you are and the more specific the more that you're actually able to speak to that person, to that ideal client, and to those challenges. And then you're able to start building that rapport and start, you know, building that know, like, and trust, and drive them with those call to actions to go to do that initial consultation, right?
I love too you said like a while like ago that you're not doing the things that you were doing in grad school and like, yes, you know, because I know that you guys are all taught in grad school that, you know, you need to be inclusive and that sort of thing and non-judgmental. And now, like, we're here telling you forget all that, with your marketing, you need to be super specific. And yes, it's going to kind of exclude some people a little bit. But I'm here to tell you like, that's okay. It's totally okay to do that in your marketing language.
And, in fact, it's not only okay, it's important that you do that, you know? You need to be more specific, you need to be honed in, and have that message that's going to connect with that ideal client. And there are specific issues, not just like, "I want to work with trauma." You know? Like no one's, yeah
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. And that's exactly what I teach in my coaching programs is like, and you know, people think that honing in and niching in means you'll never get clients that are not in your ideal client population. But that's not true. If you can write content that speaks to your ideal client, but other clients read it, and they're like, "Oh, that resonates with me. Oh, that sentence actually, you know, kind of describes my life."
So, I have a coaching client, Adriana Taylor, you're amazing if you're listening. And it's one of the best websites we've ever created together as a team, because not only does it speak to her ideal client population on the BIPOC and highly sensitive community, but the way we wrote her content, it can speak to either and you don't even have to name that. And if you read it, you're like, "Okay, you're speaking to me, right?" And if you're reading it as a BIPOC, then you're also like, "Oh, you're speaking to me." But you could also be, you know, socially anxious, or really insecure, or having major impostor syndrome, and you could say, "Oh, that speaks to me." But we never use those words, because we're using real-life examples and we're using really good content that is really drawing people in.
And you know, she's a therapist in Oklahoma City. And the first conversation was, "Would anyone ever pay someone who looks like me $200 now we're in Oklahoma City?" And I said, "You know, if we can build it, they will come, right?" Like, so the content creation has led to not only a waitlist but now starting a group practice. And just the realization that it is all about relatability, it's all about putting yourself out there, being real, being vulnerable, being authentic. And if you can step into that, you're going to be just fine.
And I know it feels challenging for some of you who were in grad school, like myself, and in community mental health we're taught the exact opposite, that you have to work with everybody, you have to take every call, you have to take every struggle, but you cannot do that. And that is why networking is so fucking crucial to build your referral list because if you don't work with eating disorders, you should not be taking calls from people who have a disordered eating struggle. And the same thing with addiction. And the same thing if you don't work with teenagers. Like, you have to be able to find those landing spots. And that is actually doing a client service opposed to disservice, even though we think it's the opposite. And in reality, you can't be the fucking Applebee's of therapy. Everyone's heard me say that multiple times. But you cannot do it all. And if you live in a small market in the middle of nowhere, and there's no other therapist, sure, do everything, who fucking cares? You'll get all the calls. If you live in, Nick is laughing so hard right now.
NICK FULLER: I love Applebee's. I'm stealing it [CROSSTALK 00:37:26]. I love it, I love it.
PATRICK CASALE: But, you know, like, you just can't do it. And you can't stand out. So, for example, I met with a therapist yesterday in Atlanta. And she's like, "I'm just not getting the calls." And I looked at her website, we looked at the Psych Today. And I was like, "Can I be brutally honest? And she said, "I hired you for that reason." I was like, "This stuff sucks. Like, this is not good. How are you going to stand out, charge $300 an hour when it doesn't speak to your client? Like, you know?"
And that's the thing is, it's not you, everyone that's listening. I hope you don't take it personally. We were never taught to do this stuff. And we were actually told not to. So, it's not a reflection on your lack of competency. But it is your responsibility to try to change how you operate, especially, if you're a small business owner because you're actually creating less accessibility by not connecting to your clients.
NICK FULLER: Mic drop, just take it right off that boom. I love it. Yeah, yeah, I mean, you're so right. I love everything that you're saying. In particular, I want to, like, jump off your point of like, yeah, like, even if you're being specific, if you're doing a really good job of it, you could still end up with clients that are outside of your niche. And I think that's absolutely true, right? If you're doing, like, good, like job of communicating with people in real-world terms, and like actually, kind of taking that old, like, grade school English class, like painting the picture, you know, telling what that life is really like with those challenges, again, if you're able to kind of communicate these challenges better than the ideal client can themselves other people too that have, like, kind of adjacent challenges, they're going to be like, "Well, I mean, they clearly get it. Like, maybe it's not quite exactly me, but I'm still really connecting with this person, and how I love Lord of the Rings. So, I'm going to go work with Patrick."
PATRICK CASALE: You know, if you know Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones, and Ted Lhasa, New Girl in Brooklyn nine, and Always Sunny in Philadelphia references don't call me. If you don't like people who curse a lot, you know, don't call me. I still get a lot of emails from my newsletter like, "You curse too much, your content helped me build my practice for free. But you sound lazy and unprofessional because you say fuck." Okay, well, the unsubscribe button is down below, and thank you for your time. And one thing I want to highlight, it can be a no-
NICK FULLER: [CROSSTALK 00:39:39].
PATRICK CASALE: I should say that I'm always like, more, I try to be tactful, you know, I'm like, yeah, just hit unsubscribe, it's okay, it's not a big deal, blah, blah, blah. But nevertheless, you know, like, I want to highlight my group practice again, like, on our Home page, it says, "If you want real authentic therapy, and not head nodding, and how does it make you feel…" And then we use the fuck bomber too like, immediately after that. My web designer at first and marketing person was like, "I don't think you should say this, you're going to turn off a lot of conservative clients." And I was like, well, that's not the clientele we're aiming for. Like, our all of our clinicians have blue, and pink hair, and show their tattoos, and like, they're real people."
And I cannot tell you how many fucking calls we get because of that opening statement where people are like, we called you because you seem real. My admin, my person who handles all the calls, one of my best friends is always like, "Dude, someone called because you use the word fuck." And I'm like, "I told you, it's just about authentic, real communication and content creation."
NICK FULLER: Yeah, yeah. I definitely, you know, again, building websites for clients, for therapists, there's a lot of my client's therapists are like, "Well, yeah, I'll curse in sessions, but I can't put that on a website." It's like, you can.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, you can and you should, because again, you are being authentic. And you're giving the client a real experience of what it's going to be like to work with you in session. And you're breaking down barriers for clients who would want that, who would feel potentially shameful or judged if they cursed in session and you looked at them, and you're like, "Please don't talk like that, that's not my language." I've had that happen, actually, with a therapist where I said, "Fuck." I was being empathetic. And they looked at me and are like, "Can we please tone it down?" And I was like, "Oh, you're not the therapist for me. And that's okay."
But like, it's just like, all right, well, I'm not coming back. And, you know, we lose sight over the fact that like, a lot of what we do is building rapport and trust. And if you can't build rapport and trust through your content creation, it's really challenging to get people in the door.
We can have more conversations about this. I'd actually like to, this was really fun. And, Nick, I just want to say I appreciate you coming on. I hope this was helpful for everyone. I hope it made you think a little bit differently about how to move forward with your content creation. If you need SEO support, web design, Nick's here. If you need content creation or coaching, I'm here. And Nick, just tell the audience where they can find more about iTherapy and what you offer.
NICK FULLER: Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you so much, Patrick, this has absolutely been a pleasure. I'd love to be on again. Thank you guys so much for listening. If you'd like to learn more about me and my team, and what we do, you can go to itherapy.com. It's the letter I and the word therapy.com.
On that main Home page, you'll definitely see a lot of stuff kind of talking about the bundled services, but you also on the menu of you'll see websites. If you have any kind of questions or wondering if I can help you with something else, you can always send us a contact message. We're here. We're happy to help. We want to see you guys. Just like Patrick, we want to see you guys succeed. We want to see, you know, your practices thriving. That's what we're trying to do, yeah. So, thank you for listening. Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure.
PATRICK CASALE: Thanks, Nick. It really has been. This has been a fun episode. And, you know, for everyone listening, we do want you to be successful. We really, really do. And I may joke around about what we're doing wrong, but in reality, that's how we learn how to do things the other way and I will add Nick's information into the show notes for everyone listening. And if you need coaching, content creation, retreats, coaching programs, and the podcast, go to allthingspractice.com, All Things Private Practice Podcast. New episodes every Sunday. Doubt yourself, do it anyway, see you next week.
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