7 Current Challenges Faced by Successful Therapists and How They Overcome Them
Thirty successful therapists shared their secrets on their success on setting up a complementary therapy business. The average time they have been in business is 14 years, so that is over 400 years of experience. I asked them what challenges they still have today in their therapy practice and it is really interesting that a lot of the issues the therapists had on start up are still the same today. These are their current problems and the ways they get around them.
Doing Enough Effective Marketing/ Networking And Advertising to Sustain a Client Base
This was definitely the top issue that almost everybody mentioned. A few suggestions were:
- Try a different form of marketing each month and test to see the response. This includes doing marketing outside your comfort zone ( I know for me in my practice that is ‘phoning people, I hate to feel I am disturbing them).
- Invest more time and money in marketing and networking
- Doing charity fund raisers/ demonstrations at health fairs etc to help bring in new clients.
Lack Of Understanding About The Therapy And What It Can Do
Even though there has been a massive increase in awareness about complementary therapies, there is still some reluctance to investigate anything that is “new” or seen to be a bit ” weird” or “airy-fairy” (their words, not mine!)
The strategies made were:
- Do demonstrations in more “mainstream” shows or venues or settings and let people experience the therapy
- Produce brochures detailing the benefits and the kind of conditions they can help ( not cure of course)
- Offer “try before you buy” sessions, usually a short version of a session (for example a twenty minute life coach session or a shoulder massage). People hate being left out, so often the potential clients would opt for the full session to see how different it was anyway!
- One therapist said she “converts” people one at a time to see what they feel about it and grow that side of the business gradually through referral.
Getting Work/Life Balance And Not Taking On Too Many Clients At Once
This came up in a couple of different guises, often coupled with the acknowledgement that there is a fear of not turning clients away for fear of losing them for good. The solutions put forward partly reflect this desire to not put off clients:
- Put people on a waiting list (which perhaps counter-intuitively did not seem to put clients off, instead they seemed to think “they must be good if they have a waiting list”)
- Stagger sessions week by week
- Booking a holiday and actually taking it
Getting Additional Skills, Knowledge Or Obtaining Accreditation In Different States, or in Different Therapies.
Ensure you do appropriate continuing professional development and invest in further skills or obtaining additional accreditation to work in a different country or state.
Setting Up A Website
Get a coach or mentor to support and challenge you to producing the website and internet marketing. Just producing a website in itself is not the issue, producing one that actually attracts clients is a different matter and needs to be checked and tested to ensure that it is converting website hits to people walking through the door.
Physical Constraints ( Body Going or Feeling Burnt Out)
This came up for the body therapists and the psychologists and counsellors who had been doing their jobs for a number of years.
- You need to look after yourself, physically, mentally and spiritually to be in the business in the long term. Be conscious of your posture and mental health.
- Do swaps with other therapists so that you get your needs met.
- Learn other therapies that are not as physically or emotionally demanding, that you can offer to your existing client base.
Fear Of Not Being Good Enough
To be honest this comment surprised me and when I dug a bit further it seemed to be more of feeling of wanting to serve their clients in the best way possible. So solutions they proposed included:
- Keep working in supervision
- Do a peer to peer review of standards and practices
- Keep up to date with the latest developments in your therapy including engaging in continuing professional development (CPD). Some therapies require a minimum CPD per year anyway, so it is a question of honestly appraising your shortfalls and finding how best to address those.
Overall I was a little surprised by the comments, but the need to do proper and sustained marketing was mentioned by virtually every therapist. I expected them to say that when they first setup a therapy business they would struggle to find clients, but over time you would expect this to diminish. In summary, above all else make sure you address your marketing if you wish to have a long term successful career as a therapist.