If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I preach from the rooftop about the value of finding your therapy niche in private practice. It helps you fill your practice with clients faster while also fostering a practice that you love.
BUT, what if you legit have no clue what your niche is? Is it possible to start and fill your practice?
YES! But if you’re not sure of what your therapy niche is yet, I suggest you use a slightly different approach. I have a quick tip for how you can start a successful practice without a niche.
A Way to Fill Your Practice And Find Your Therapy Niche
Especially if you aren’t on insurance panels, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to fill your practice when you don’t have a specific therapy niche or cluster of niches to focus on.
It makes it harder to know how to position yourself as the solution to someone’s problems when you’re not sure which problems you’d like to focus on solving.
If this is you: not to fear! I have a solution for you.
Essentially, the strategy I propose is to focus on filling your practice in a way that allows you to develop a sense of your niche WHILE you are still earning income and helping the clients you meet with.
Because honestly, everyone has a therapy niche, it may just take a second to find your unique lens. But you can still see clients while you develop a clearer picture of who you most love to serve.
How do you do that? I present to you: the power of networking.
4 Ways Networking Can Help Find Your Niche
Okay, hear me out. I’m not encouraging you to simply attend stuffy meetings where everyone introduces themselves and passes out business cards, never to speak to each other again.
I’m talking about making legitimate friends in the field. Find therapists that you jive with, who you feel like you “click” with.
I’ll share more a little later in this article about how to find your tribe and build those relationships, but here’s how this kind of networking can serve you when you don’t have a niche yet:
1) Genuine Relationships Leads To Referrals
- When you build trust with fellow therapists, they will refer to you. Period.
- I’m telling you, for my favorite trusted therapist colleagues, I refer to them constantly. I trust that they will be able to discern if a potential client is a good fit for them or whether they will need to refer them.
2) Referrals Can Help You Understand Your Niche
- Therapists who really know you well will send clients you enjoy working with without really realizing it.
- I do this too! Sometimes I will refer a client to a therapist friend because I “just have a feeling” that they will be a good fit to work together. Clients that my therapist friends refer to me are often a really great fit because their instincts about me are so on point.
3) Shared Interests Reflect Your Niche
- By connecting with therapists who you really jive with, you can start to notice patterns around what aspects of your peers you find trustworthy and appealing.
- Chances are, there’s something about those relationships that connect with your niche somehow. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your niche is a replica of theirs. Not at all. It just means you likely share some common threads that are an important aspect of what will become your niche.
- For example, if I zoom out and take a look at all of my most favorite trusted therapist colleagues, there is a very clear theme. As a whole, I can see that I love focusing on cultural and identity-related aspects of our lives and our clients’ lives when I consult with them. Focusing on identity then is clearly a bedrock of my niche as a therapist. And I do in fact focus on the intersectionality of different identifiers, such as faith and sexuality.
4) Collect Data To Build Your Niche
- As you start seeing clients, you can start identifying what themes come up surrounding the clients you love.
- You can also use the niching exercise I shared in another article to help you identify and narrow down those themes.
- I also really like a tip that Roy Kim shared in our interview about niching down by process of elimination. I completely did that. I learned in time that I don’t prefer to work with couples or kids, so I started eliminating items that weren’t of interest to me until items that I most enjoyed started to emerge.
In time, you will start to develop a sense of your therapy niche. Or even if not, you can keep leveraging your system of networking to keep building a practice you love.
5 Ways To Find Your Therapist Tribe
Alright, so this might sound well and good, but you might be wondering how to even find those therapists in your tribe. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few tips:
1) Start With Who You Know
- Start with your existing networks. Think of old classmates, former coworkers, or any therapists you’re currently connected with. Who has stood out to you as super cool? Reach out to them!
- What have you got to lose? Honestly, I used to avoid reaching out to therapists I admired because I thought they were too cool for me or that they wouldn’t have time. But guess what? Often when I finally reach out they tell me that they’ve felt the same way about ME. What?? So give it a try!
2) Try Facebook Therapist Groups
- Join facebook groups of local therapists.
- You can be bold and put out a post asking to make friends. Or you can be a lurker and watch what other folks are posting about and reach out to individuals in the group that you jive with based on what they post. Invite them to coffee or a Zoom chat if you appreciate who they are. If the interest is genuine, most folks will often say yes!
3) Work Those IG DMs.
- I have made some of my closest therapist friendships through Instagram.
- Back when the Private Practice Skills account was super small and I had just a couple hundred followers, a few key therapists reached out to me to connect. From there, I got to know a wonderful group of fellow entrepreneurial female psychologists who are absolutely inspirational. And they are also some of my greatest support. From Instagram.
4) Join Local Therapist Chapters
- My county has a local psychological association. See what therapist associations are local to you and see if there are mixers or educational events of interest to you.
- Be intentional about meeting folks when you attend. You don’t need to befriend everyone, but there will be moments when you find someone who you just click with. See if you can find ways to stay connected or to interact outside of those events.
5) Reach Out To Therapists You Find Online
- If you come across a therapist whose website or other online messaging jives with you, reach out to them!
- Not everyone will respond, but some will. Make sure you focus on the things you notice about them that you relate with, rather than just talking about yourself.
- Interact with the intention of building a genuine friendship rather than pitching yourself.
Want More Help Finding Therapy Clients?
If you want more advice in filling your practice, I have an article about how to attract more clients that might help.
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels