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Why the words we love, hold us back

Why the words we love, hold us back

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‘I’ve told people what I do’,

‘I’ve put who I am out to the world’,

‘I’m really working hard to tell people I can help!’

Why isn’t it working? Don’t people want my help?

Sound familiar? I bet there’s someone you know who’s at that point, aren’t they?

Here’s the 5 most common ways we sabotage our good work by using the wrong language:

#5 Talking about what matters to us not what matters to someone in need.

Ok, yes, I’m guilty of this one too. I did it a lot at the start.

I talked about therapy, I talked about how life could be great, I talked about what I found fascinating in what I do.

I kind of missed the client in that 😊

Yup, sorry to say I wasn’t talking about the life experience that someone was living if they needed my help.

The bottom line is: If they don’t recognise themselves in the message, then they are not likely to read or watch further and they won’t be likely to take action either.

We have to be about where they are in life and what matters to them first. Then we can bring them to the discussion of change, method, etc.

#4 One-upmanship in our message.

Usually this is where we’re so into the type of thing we do, that we sort of assume everyone is looking for our ‘type’ of help.

It’s OK to be into what we do. It’s great to have a belief in the method or philosophy that guides your work. Go you! Just be aware that the client in need probably isn’t as into this as we are.

I’ve seen people try the one-upmanship in so many different areas it’s almost comical.

The 1st time I saw it was when four Hypnotherapists started it. The first advert I saw was for a ‘Hypnotherapist’, then I saw the one for a ‘Hypnopsychotherapist’, soon after an ‘Advanced Hypnotherapist’ opened up, and finally an ‘Advanced Hypnopsychotherapist’ joined in.

None of them did well. It’s not about titles, it’s about connecting with the client in need and giving them some hope and the opportunity for positive change.

I’ve seen Psychotherapists spend more time up front explaining why being an ‘Integrative’ or ‘Contemplative’ or ‘Person Centred’ etc. type pf psychotherapist is the best.

The client doesn’t care about that until after they become aware and interested in the value of psychotherapy. Only then should we be giving time to which form we believe in or think is the best.

The list goes on: ‘Four Element Acupuncture’ seemed to be followed by ‘Five Element Acupuncture’, then ‘Six Element’ and ‘Seven Element…’

I’m sure they each have a guiding structure and values, but isn’t it more important to give a focus to what we help before we go into how cool the method is?

#3 Putting the method before the need

That brings us neatly to the next issue. Mostly, when we start, we think our skillset is the offering itself. I certainly did. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons I struggled so much at the start.

We offer Counseling, Psychotherapy, Reiki, Coaching, EMDR, NLP, TFT, etc. up front.

I’ve seen so many ads, posters, cards, flyers, brochures, and so on that read like this:

Name, Title,

Offering (Therapy name) in confidential environment. Helping with a wide variety of needs.

Number and e-mail

That presupposes someone suffering or stuck, knows what our therapy name means in plain language. In my testing and tracking of this over the past several years, only 5% of clients chose therapy by type. 95% chose by the issues it helps.

Here’s a quick example of what works better:

Name, Title

Helping reduce: Symptom, Symptom, Symptom, Symptom, Symptom, Symptom.

Number and email

So:

John Prendergast, Psychotherapist

Helping reduce anger, fear, panic, flashbacks, nightmares.

085 1313700 info@therapyandcoachingsuccess.com

Most people looking for help don’t know what type of therapy is best. Most don’t even know what they are suffering from. Point out their life experience and people will choose you for who you are and how you have connected to their suffering. That’s more powerful by a factor of 20 to 1, than the type of therapy by name!

For the record, do talk about your method, just not as the most important thing you say first. That make sense?

#2 Mistaking our qualifications for what we do.

What do you do?

‘I’m a psychologist’, or ‘I’m an energy healer’, or ‘I’m an NLP practitioner’.

OK, how useful is that info?

That’s the common answer and it also informs how most of us put our message out as well, but is it helpful?

If the answer was something like the below, would it be more useful?

‘I help people get over flashbacks, nightmares and trauma.’

‘I help people stop worrying and start enjoying life’.

‘I help people get over phobias and fears’.

Would those answers let people know more easily if they needed your help?

The formula should be: Life experience with the problem, before qualifications and method info. Your qualifications and method are important points, and people will be interested in them if they first see the reality of what you help.

#1 Naming rather than demonstrating.

This is the big one. It’s dangerous because it looks as though we’re doing the right thing, but it’s still a barrier to people choosing help.

It’s where we label what we do but in a way that doesn’t quite connect with the client.

Words like: Anxiety, Stress, PTSD, Metabolic Syndrome, and so on.

Most people who suffer, don’t know the label for what they suffering.

90%+ of my anxiety clients don’t identify with the word anxiety. However they do identify with: worry, second guessing, sweating before a presentation, rerunning conversations, always seeing the worst case scenario, getting angry easily, and so on.

Demonstrate to them their own life experience rather than just the label, and you can have a much easier time connecting with clients and make it easier for them to choose change.

The nice thing is that what helps us get busy and earn a living is also what makes the world a better place.

Hope you found this useful. Go and implement it. Look at what you are putting into the world and make sure it is there to help the person suffering, that will make your life better too.

Thanks for continuing to share your help. I needed that for decades. Every one of us helping others means more people like me, stuck and suffering, are more likely to get help.

Have a great week,

John

Burning out and close to giving up?

Burning out and close to giving up?

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“I’m not feeling this is my passion anymore.”

That’s a phrase I hear too often. ‘I’m struggling to find clients, and this just feels like work. I used to love this but now my passion is gone’. ‘Should I even be doing this?’, ‘If it’s my passion shouldn’t I be enjoying it?’, ‘Maybe it’s time to pack it in.’

Now, to be honest, I’ve had those thoughts myself when starting out.

When my energy was forced into struggling to find clients, worrying about whether I could afford to keep going, and desperately trying new things to get my help out to the world, it certainly wasn’t fun. I started to confuse the two aspects – the ‘business side’ and the ‘helping people’ side.

For most self-employed therapists, we confuse being able to help people and understanding our therapy or coaching offering, with being skilled in marketing. They are not the same thing.

We seem to think that it’s about how good we are at helping others that should determine whether we’re busy or not. That flawed logic leads us to a very unhelpful conclusion – ‘I must not be good at this as I’m not busy’.

That’s not the case.

How good we are is nothing to do with how busy we are at the start.

Here’s why: if you haven’t seen many clients then there isn’t yet the chance for word of mouth to amount to much.

If you’re the best ever but no-one knows about you, then how can that make a difference?

It takes years for word of mouth to make a real contribution for most therapists. 3-5 years on average. Longer for things people don’t like to talk about (getting over abuse, depression, addictions etc.) and shorter for things people do like to talk about (weight-loss, fitness, success in business etc.)

Almost never does the 1st year contribute to word of mouth in a big way.

That leads us to put our efforts in the wrong place. Rather than getting good at spreading the word, we focus on ourselves in a more personal way and that eats away at passion, confidence, and momentum.

In reality few of us are passionate about marketing. Let’s be honest, it’s not what we really want to do. It’s just necessary for getting us together with the client and helping them make positive change.

Let me ask you something. If you could just do the work with the clients, without the business side, how much more passion, enjoyment, and pride would be in your week?

Talking to that therapist last week, I gave the example of one of my clients. I work a lot with trauma. I have a client (and I’ll keep the details vague) who suffered hundreds of sexual assaults (probably over 1000 in all) over more than a decade in an institution.

Working with that person is not fun. It’s not easy. It’s not energising. So, at that moment I’m going to say ‘my passion for the work I do isn’t high’.

It doesn’t need to be. The reason is when I see that person living life in ways they could not in the past, it’s all brought home to me why I do this. I love helping. I love seeing the change in others.

Hard as the work can be at times, it’s wonderful to be able to be part of that change, to be there for someone in need, and to do something in this world that makes a difference. This is why I’m a therapist!

Having lived with severe anxiety for decades I want to help others change their lives the way mine changed.

Our passion for what we do isn’t going to be 24/7 but it guides and defines what we do.

Which part of being a therapist or coach energises you? Which part drives you on? Which part fulfils you?

That’s the passion.

Becoming good as the business side is just a tool to let us do more of the good work that is rewarding. It lets us make a difference.

Isn’t that why we became therapists and coaches to begin with?

Another killer of enthusiasm, passion, and motivation is money or, more accurately, lack of money.

When we’re working and not earning enough to pay the bills and enjoy life a bit, the effort feels less valuable.

It’s hard to appreciate the changes as much when as soon as the client leaves we’re back to worrying about paying the rent, our kid’s education, or simply being able to keep going.

It can feel like a catch 22. It certainly did for me at the start.

Just like learning therapy or coaching skills – how to reach the people in need is just a skillset. It’s not about how good a therapist you are, it’s not about people wanting your help or not, it’s not about luck either. It’s about putting yourself out to the world in a way that lets you spend more time engaging with the parts of your work where the passion truly is.

It’s Ok not to be passionate about the business side. It’s OK to be less than enthused about marketing your practice. And it’s OK to acknowledge struggling for money is not fun too.

But, bear in mind why you do this.

Keep the difference you can make in the world up front in your mind. Think of it from the point of view of the person needing help. How much of a positive is it for them to get your help? Value your expertise and effort.

Value the job satisfaction that comes from making a difference.

Value the difference the extra income makes too. We’re allowed to earn a living. We’re allowed to support our families. We’re allowed to keep the roof over our heads and enjoy life.

When we do, we get to spend more time with our passion.

I really hope you keep sharing your help with the world.

Have a great week,

John

Why websites usually don’t work

Why websites usually don’t work

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Something that comes up a lot is therapists wondering why their websites are not bringing in clients.

From Shamans to Psychologists, I see the same thing: ‘I’ve spent a fortune on a website and it’s doing nothing for me’, ‘Why doesn’t it deliver any clients?’, ‘What do I need to do get it working?’

It’s heart-breaking. We want to help people, we’ve trained for it, we have skills that make a difference, but we only get to use them when a client finds us and chooses our help.

The money keeps going out but it’s all wasted until we’re making a difference with people suffering.

As someone who needed help for decades without finding it, I know how much this hurts the person in need as well as the therapist.

So, what goes wrong? Here are the most common problems:

1. Having a website is like having a shop front. Unless people see it, it does nothing for us.

Having a website usually has us thinking – ‘people can find me now’. That’s mostly not the case. Just like having a physical shop we need to bring people to it in order for them to be able to take action.

2. We’ve focused more on how the site looks than what it needs to do.

This is a killer and it happens all the time. Does it look ‘clean’, ‘nice’, ‘professional’, ‘beautiful’, etc. Does it have all the latest functionality? And so on.

This is far less important than can people immediately see what you’re about? Can they spot if they could do with your help? Does it connect with their needs?

Normally we expect our web designer to make the site ‘work’ for us. Generally web designers are experts at function and beauty on a site. Rarely are they at all experienced in getting your clients to resonate with your message.

They’ll tell you ‘this is best practice’, or this will have great ‘SEO’. That’s great but we have to drive the process. You know more about your client’s needs than they do. Stick to your guns on your message. Don’t let best practice or beauty become more important than helping the person in need.

We’ve tested this extensively – a one page ugly website that takes people through what they need to know to realise they could benefit from your help, will outperform 90% of the beautiful and complex sites.

Ideally create one that does both. Make it connect with your client’s needs and make it look nice, but remember which of those matters most!

3. Getting the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) right.

How often do people tell us ‘You have to get the SEO right to be found on Google’.

Generally this amounts to someone, be it the web designer or a specialist in SEO, trying to convince us of what we must do to get Google and the other search engines to notice our site.

The normal approach is to see what the current algorithm rules are and how to fool them into rating our website most highly.

In worst case scenarios, we end up paying thousands to get on the 1st page of a search, and it’s great – for a while. Then Google changes their algorithm and we disappear and have to pay again for the new ‘fixes’.

Here’s the good news: If you write about what you do, how it helps people, and make a few videos of the same content and put it on your blog that you update regularly, you can get there with no tricks.

I’ve never paid a cent for SEO, never bothered with the tricks that are supposed to be so important, and I’m on the 1st page for what I do where I do it!

How? Simple, google is trying to make it so that when someone searches for something, they find sites that are high quality about that issue. They don’t want to show sites that have ‘great SEO’ they want genuine content.

That’s what wins. Yes it can take a bit of time, but you know what? Every time they change the algorithm it makes no difference to you when you’re about genuine content.

So, what do we need to do if we want our website to be a tool that allows us to help more people?

1. Make sure that as soon as someone lands on it, it’s obvious if their problem is what you help. Most people only look at the 1st screen that loads and don’t scroll down. If that first glance doesn’t say what you do (in real terms, not your job title, type of therapy, or a catchphrase), then you’ve lost most of them.

2. Put your web address out into the world. Add it to posts on Facebook, Tweets, LinkedIn updates, whatever it is that you use to communicate to the world.

3. Post an article once a week to your blog on your own website. A blog on a blogging site doesn’t bring anyone to your website and doesn’t contribute to Google and the others noticing you.

Being about the help, writing about what you help, and getting that onto your site is the surest way to long term success with your website.

I hope this helps. If you need a site created, sorry, I don’t build websites. Just make sure you’re the one making the decisions about connecting with your clients and stick to doing what works – then any web designer who will listen to you as the person paying them, should be able to do that part for you.

Hope this helps.

Have a great week,

John

Still lacking Clients?

Still lacking Clients?

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A lot of therapists will be here again this time next year thinking ‘I’m not making the difference I want to’, ‘I need to see more clients’, ‘I’m struggling for money’. Most of them will have been in the same situation last year, just as they are this year.

Yet most of them will take little action to change the situation. Why is that?

Over the past few years I’ve gotten hundreds and hundreds of answers to that question. Here’s what they tell us and what we can learn from it:

The number one reaction is fear.

Fear of trying and failing, fear of losing money, fear of not being good enough, fear of not doing the right things, fear of not getting results with their clients, fear of what others will think of them.

There’s a lot of room for fear in any business and in the therapy/coaching arena it’s certainly felt in a very personal way.

The second most common response is a deep seated belief that they can’t be successful.

While this could be considered a fear in itself, it is worth addressing separately.

Usually this comes down to not seeing how to make the economics work. Can I get enough clients at a realistic fee to let me keep doing this and be full time or at least deliver a living income?

The third most common response is being unsure what to do.

This usually amounted to a form of ‘option-paralysis’ – too many choices and not enough data to know which works best and how to do each of them. And yes, here again we’re looking at a fear, but one also worth considering in it’s own right.

The basic fact is that unless we learn how to bring our message to the people who need our help, then we can’t expect to help them.

We must be found and we must be understood for anyone to access our help.

This is in our own hands.

No one will do this for us.

It’s a skill to learn. We all know people who are successful. We can model their strategies, we can learn their systems, we can ask what they do and do similar for ourselves. That’s not rocket science.

So let’s look at what holds us back. Typically this is the bigger issue. Think about it, most therapists stumble on year after year doing the same things and knowing they are not busy, hoping to magically somehow be busy. They know they need to do something different, they often know they have to learn a better way to get the word out, yet they don’t take action.

We have to acknowledge that this is happening. It’s often painful to do so. Anger, bitterness, shame, and a raft of other feelings can come with it. But until we sit up and take notice of our inaction and the causes of it we’re stuck in same cycle.

Let’s look at a few possibilities for breaking through the common hesitations:

Fear – fear thrives on avoidance. The lack of definition in fears often helps maintain them.

For each fear, take out a pen and piece of paper and answer these questions, it can help to significantly reduce the bad feeling.

Be real and specific. Expect this to be uncomfortable. That’s the zone where we make progress.

I suggest work for 30 minutes at a time and schedule a session of that length each day so that it’s manageable and easier to complete.

What if I fail?

What am I doing which promotes failure?

What can I do to reduce the chance of failure?

What do I lose by not trying?

What if I lose money?

What do I gain by what I’m currently doing?

What can I gain by trying a different approach?

What do I lose by not trying?

What can be gained by persevering until I get it right?

 

Am I good enough?

Who can I help right now?

Who would I be happier to refer on?

Can I start by putting my message out about the things I’m most comfortable with?

Will doing so build my experience and confidence?

Can I get much better without seeing clients?

 

What if the client doesn’t improve?

Is that something I completely control or do they factor into that?

Are they more or less likely to improve without help?

Can I be honest that success isn’t guaranteed but that I’ll do my best?

Can I have a plan in place to make sure we only continue if there is room for hope of success?

 

What others will think of me?

What will the person I help, think?

What will the family of the person I help think?

Who’s opinion actually matters to me?

What will people I care about think?

Is anyone’s opinion more important than helping people?

A fear in context rarely stands up and in fact, usually shrinks letting us achieve more and do more good.

 

The next issue: can I be successful?

How many clients do I want?

How much income do I need to keep doing this?

Break that down into manageable chunks.

Number of clients per week _____

Fee per client ______

Weeks worked a year ______

Allow 20% for expenses if you don’t know how much they are. If you’ve low overheads that could be 15%, if high allow more.

You can multiply that up easily, or you can use this free handy tool here to work it out for you and let you test different numbers swiftly and easily to see what works best.

Fee Calculator

Again usually it’s easier than we expect when we nail down the reality.

Just 2 clients a day at 100 each or 4 clients at 50 can be an income of 40,000 a year with 4 weeks off.

That’s less than one morning each day worked. How does that sound as a starting place?

Make sure your plan allows you to live and support your family. That’s the magic number for success at a minimum.

 

Next: The ‘not sure what to do’ issues.

Fundamentally here is what I’ve found to be best:

1. Pick 3 places to advertise and use these only to begin with – These could be a local newspaper, a social media platform, meeting community groups, getting referrals from health centres, business networking groups, etc. Resist the urge to do lots of things badly and focus on doing a small number well.

2. Accept that it costs money to advertise, but when this delivers clients, acknowledge that your spending money just made you money.

3 Be about something specific. An ‘I help everything’ approach is counterproductive.

So here are the questions to work through if you’re serious about getting your help out to more people:

1 What are the things I want to help with first?

2 What are the places to focus on getting this message out on first?

3 What advertising budget am I committing to?

I also recommend when trying a new forum, that we try for small to get comfortable then increase your budget. On Facebook for example I can advertise for $1. This lets me get comfortable with the options and see how it works before I start spending much at all.

I hope this helps. If you know anyone who it might also help please feel free to tag or share as you see fit.

I don’t expect the questions in this article to solve the whole problem, but they certainly can help move thinking in the right direction and improve our chances of success.

Right now there are people out there who are suffering or stuck. Your move…

Have a great week,

John

 

If you’d like help with the business side, getting comfortable with fees and income, and how to market therapy or coaching so you can help a lot more people and earn a better income, I’d be happy to help.

On October 14th-15th in Dublin, I’m running a Masterclass on how to get it all working and seeing clients fast. Details are here:

Dublin Successful Therapist Masterclass, October 14-15th, 9:30am to 5:30pm each day.

If that’s not in reach for you, check out our online programs:

Monthly Training Program at just €19.50 a month gives you over 75% off great training every month:

Monthly Training Program (Including the Bio Training that brings me clients every month for free.)

And my Flagship marketing training ‘Facebook for therapists and Coaches’ can be found here:

Facebook for Therapists and Coaches – The fastest and cheapest what for me to stay booked out.

The most important qualities for success as a therapist or coach.

The most important qualities for success as a therapist or coach.

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I was chatting with a therapist earlier this week who is in the usual position – not enough clients to really make it work and having to keep a job she hates just to pay the rent. She’s stressed, angry, and unhappy.

She’s done the usual – business cards, flyers, an advert in the local paper, gotten on Facebook but was unsure what to do there and is near quitting altogether.

Sadly that’s where seven out of ten of us are. Struggling, feeling a bit lost, afraid of wasting time and money, and feeling we have already wasted our training and effort in becoming the therapist or coach we are.

Yet when I spoke to her it was so obvious that she really wants to help people and to do something worthwhile with her working life. She’s passionate about helping others, she’s got great skills which she spent thousands developing and hundreds of hours practising, yet it’s not a reality for her at this point.

All that hope, good intent, effort, and money is feeling like a drag rather than the opportunity it is to do good in the world and to earn a living to support herself and her family.

We had a long chat and I thought about it all a bit later this week. Here are those thoughts:

The most important factor in becoming successful, is courage.

We all know there are successful therapists and coaches: People with great careers helping others; People who make a difference in real lives every week. They have waiting lists, they are booked out, they have too many clients in many cases.

We know this, but yet we fear that we can’t join them. Fear of trying the wrong thing, or wasting money on an advert, or of what people will think, are often huge factors.

The biggest bugbear however, is ‘What if people see me fail?’

While not trying can feel like an easy route, it is GUARANTEED failure in the long run.

Every successful therapist and coach out there had to take a risk, had to push themselves to step out and be seen, and had to keep trying in order to build success.

It doesn’t happen by accident. Even if trained in the easy ways to succeed, it still requires some courage.

The bottom line here:

Your fear of putting yourself out there has to be eclipsed by your desire and will to help others!

The next most important factor is persistence.

This I learned the hard way. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t when it came to marketing. I had to try lots of things and one-off efforts don’t work. So I had to keep going on and see what did work. Then I dropped what delivered little and did more of what worked better.

I tried again and again and kept building. At any point I could have given up.

At one point I had less than a hundred left in my bank account. I persisted. Now I’ve gone from those weeks with one client sometimes, to booked out and with a waiting list.

While I found the best ways to reach and connect with those who need my help, I needed to knuckle down and keep going in order to build that knowledge and implement those strategies.

I’m not alone. Every successful therapist I know took longer to build success than they expected. They had to keep going, and by being persistent they got to help a lot more people along the way. They also got to build real incomes to support themselves and their families, but it requires us to keep going.

The bottom line here:

Expecting us to suddenly make it big without continued effort building ongoing success is like expecting a Lottery win to solve your problems.

This is not the X Factor. No one will do it for you. We build our own success with ongoing effort, and it’s worth it!

The third factor is adaptability.

As we go there will be things that we find will work better for us and which people respond more positively to.

For example, our specialisation often is chosen not by ourselves but by our clients. When I started I was trained in a general way – I could help a lot of issues and I didn’t know what direction I would go in.

It was building up and seeing more clients that made that obvious. The anxiety people were telling more people because they got good results. The fact that I’d lived anxiety was probably the biggest factor in drawing me that way but it was my clients seeing results and recommending me to others, that made it stand out.

What we’re best at tends to become more in demand as time goes on. Word of mouth is a slow build in most cases, but it does show where the results are.

Being adaptable in trying different ways to reach clients and in how we work with different people is a huge benefit in working with clients.

The bottom line here:

If something isn’t working – change up and try some other variant or element of it.

Don’t fall into the trap of ‘I’m not busy, I must have the wrong skills’, and train in another modality. It’s tempting but futile. Focus on getting current skills into action.

Most of us end up with several ways to help and still don’t know how to get clients. I fell into that too along the way, but the reality is that there are clients for each therapy and coaching method, it’s about reaching those people. That is a skill set different to the ones we learn when we train to become a helper. That’s marketing. If needed, it can be learned too.

Hope this helps you look at what can be improved and builds some hope and momentum.

There are more people who need help, but who are unaware where to go for it, than we can ever help. If we put the effort in to reach them, we get to give them the change to a better life as we make our own better too.

Please keep sharing your help.

If you’d like detailed, step-by-step help with implementing the options to build a hugely successful therapy or coaching business, you really should check out my monthly training program.

Every month you’ll get a great training from me, on a specific aspect and the ways that I’ve seen it work well for therapists and coaches, helping them be more successful, and reach a lot more people.

I cover a lot of stuff as month in, month out, and all in practical, easy to use training.

As a bonus, those joining now will get a complete 3 part course on how to develop and construct a great Bio. This takes you through the vital psychology of connection that you can use in any aspect of getting your message out, as well as in creating great bios.

What’s the value of a bio? Mine brings in over €10,000.00 a year in client work without me having to spend a cent on advertising! Now, I’m not guaranteeing you’ll get those same results, but it shows what is possible.

It’s just €19.50 a month and you can leave any time you like. There’s no contract so you’re not locked in at all. It’s just excellent training for as long as you want it.

You can find more and join here:

Training Program

Have a great week,

John

The Journey to Success

The Journey to Success

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It is amazing that all over the world the pattern is the same when we start our therapy or coaching businesses.

We have lots of worry and lots of hope. We all do the same things, largely because that’s what we see others doing. We have a place to work from, insurance, our qualifications, and usually a website and cards or flyers.

Often armed for the most part only with blind hope we set out, swinging wildly from ‘what if it fails, do people want my help, what will people think?’ to ‘I want to make a difference, I know this works and helps, there are so many people suffering!’

We put cards out, post on Facebook, or leave flyers around town. Then the anxious waiting starts. We make sure the phone is switched on, check our email way too often, and think about the difference we’re going to make.

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We’ve seen the benefits of what we do. We are so enthused from our training and the great people we were on that journey with. The future is full of opportunity. Let me at it!

That 1st call is as much terror as joy for many. A client! it’s real! We book them in and we can hardly settle. It’s a reality, I’m doing it!

While it’s great to have a client or two, the actual reality soon starts to bite. We’re seeing money go out faster than it comes in. We’re not using the skills we spent so much time, money, and energy developing as much as we had hoped.

There’s more waiting. ‘I hope people want what I’m offering’, ‘I hope I’m not putting people off with my fee’, ‘Surely people will see the need for the amazing thing I’m doing?’.

The worry usually grows.’Where’s the word of mouth I expected?’

This is where we start to second guess the dream. ‘Should I take the day job so I can pay the mortgage?’,’Do I need to retrain in a different skill set?’, ‘Should I just give up?’

Stressed

The tragedy is that some stop very early on. In asking the question of therapists in the USA, UK, Australia, Ireland, Spain. Italy, Egypt, Norway, India, and other countries, the numbers tell the same sad story.

Seven out of ten of us who qualify give up in the 1st year.

For some that’s settling for 1-2 clients a week while working a regular job which isn’t what we want to do in life, just to make money. For most it’s total abandonment of what we wanted to do.

We tell ourselves, ‘I’ll get back to it’, ‘The time’s not right’, ‘I’m still on the path, just taking a longer road.’ the longer we leave it the less likely we are to restart.

We feel bad, perhaps like a failure, or that life is unfair. That feeling is the biggest saboteur we will ever meet.

It is not a big step for us to then start to think along the lines of – ‘the problem is me.’ We train in new skills thinking ‘Maybe people will want this’. We think, ‘I’m not good enough to really help people’ and we hold back. And a host of other bad feelings drag down our motivation and determination.

We end up avoiding the one thing that makes all the difference: Putting our message out to the world.

Word of mouth only spreads when we’ve seen clients, and then only slowly for the vast majority. No one can come for help if we’re hiding. We need to let a lot of people know what issues we help, where we are, and also how to get our message to reach the person who’s ready to take action.

Often we end up trained in many, many skills and therapy types and still find we’re empty. Lots of skills no one knows you have, are just as useless as one skill-set no one knows you have.

It’s not you. it’s not the right or wrong skills, it’s not how good you are at helping. It’s all about how many understand what you help with and how they can find you.

We can always help people right from the start. If we let ourselves see clients, we get more experience and become even better. No one is the best when they start. Experience gives us expertise. We have to get out there and help people now, in order to be better later on. Waiting to be better and not working in order to be better, is guaranteed failure.

If you want to be successful, you have to make it happen by stepping up and telling the world what you do.

Announce

That is easier than it ever has been. We have more options with the internet, social media, newspapers, texts, etc.

However, getting the word out is something we’re not trained in when we’re learning to be therapists and coaches. We don’t know what to do and, most importantly, how to do it.

I’ve seen national advertising campaigns worth £500,000 in the UK achieve a grand total of zero clients, for example. We need to get the message right, as well as out there.

Sadly rather than deal with that uncertainty, most therapists settle for seeing the odd client and for being poor. So many scrape by and fall into a rut of tolerable unhappiness. Things aren’t bad enough to force them to act so they stay stagnant.

We keep telling ourselves we’re therapists, that we are following that path, but we’re usually ignoring the reality that this isn’t what we dedicated so much effort, time, and money to becoming skilled in, the first place.

The truth is that we need two critical things to change this cycle. One is a decision to look at the realities and notice what isn’t working. The second is dedication to solving the problems we see there.

If the problem is lack of confidence, we need to look at how we can build our confidence in what we do – perhaps reading over our testimonials, recalling the happy clients who changed, remembering what drew us to this type of vocation in the first place, whatever that might be for each of us. But, we have to face it and do something to change it.

Rubik

If it’s how to get the message out and how to make it connect with people who need help that’s a skill set that can be learned too.

If it’s the money side, talk to an accountant or business coach.

Whatever we need to overcome, there are people who have been there and who can help us. Inaction is not only hurting us and our families, but also the people who don’t get help because our message doesn’t reach them.

Think I’m exaggerating on that last point?

I lived all my life until I was 37, with severe anxiety and depression. The therapist who got me over that at 37 was trained by the same person and in the same method as a local therapist just 20 minutes from the house I grew up in. That therapist was there and ready but I never knew. No one did. That therapist was always struggling but didn’t put their message out. If they’d somehow managed to reach me as a teenager, this life would have been a lot more fun much earlier. We hold people back when we don’t reach out to those suffering. Most people don’t know help is available.

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There’s good news in that though. Most people don’t understand the experience they’re having and as such are not actively looking for help. That’s where I was for decades, and where 19 out of every 20 clients I see are at.

This gives us a way to succeed while making a win for the person suffering and for ourselves.

Pick three problems you help people with. Talk about how it feels to have the problem. This lets those experiencing it, but who don’t understand it, recognise what you help with.

Talk less about qualifications, modalities and systems until you’ve clearly spelled out the problems for them. Once they know you can help they will be interested in qualifications and categories of help, but not before.

Stay on the topic of those three issues for a few months so people can see you’re consistent and so they have multiple opportunities to see that you understand their issues enough to be talking about them often. This is massive.

Get that message out to the world. Use newspapers (25 to 1 ROI when I’ve used them well), Facebook (up to 122 to 1 ROI using video or 80 to 1 in text and image posts), talk to community groups. Put out flyers that talk about the problems and lead to hope. Everything can work when the psychology of connection is right. Some work better than others, but getting your message out is vital.

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We can’t hold back from getting the word out without hurting ourselves and leaving people in suffering. Focus on the win for the client and allow yourself to have a win too.

Post weekly on Facebook, or on Linkedin if you’re offering a service to businesses. Write up the same article and send it to newspapers. Negotiate for editorials. Spend a little and see what works best, then keep going.

Think of your business as a tool that lets you help more people. Use the business to facilitate your help. Treat this as a profession – be professional. Be prepared to spend a little money to get the word out and charge enough to allow you to keep going.

Look at how much you have spent on your qualifications. Look at how much of an income you want to earn as a therapist. Now, isn’t it worth some investment in telling people where you are and what you help?

Not charging enough to let us remain therapists is guaranteeing unhappiness, burn-out, and in the long term a different job where we’re not helping people.

It can’t be all 100% giving. Thankfully therapists are generally about the help and this is great. However, we need balance. There has to be enough coming back in in terms of job satisfaction and money to keep us going.

In helping thousands of therapists around the world, I get a lot of feedback. One point that’s consistent is that there are more than enough clients once we know how to reach them.

If we’re not busy there are only 2 reasons: Either we don’t want them on some level (fear, lack of confidence etc.) or we don’t know how to find them (lack of marketing skills).

These are things we can face, challenge, learn, and develop.

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It starts with a decision to be honest and face the uncomfortable. Notice what feels uncomfortable. Write down what that is. Now start building a plan to deal with that aspect of being a successful therapist or coach.

Isn’t that what you’d advise a client to do if they came with a problem?

Every best wish for ever growing success!

Have a great week!

John

A happily booked out therapist.

10 common mistakes we make that keep us empty. Number 7 held me back a long time.

10 common mistakes we make that keep us empty. Number 7 held me back a long time.

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Wrong Way

1. ‘I’m empty I must not be good enough.’

Sound familiar? I felt this at the start, but you know what? Until I’d seen a good number of clients, I didn’t have any info to determine how good or bad I was. Turns out I delivered value even at the start, but I was only going to know that if I put myself out there and found clients. That’s the test of this.

It’s not how good you are at the start, it’s how easily can people find you!

2. ‘People don’t want my help.’

&

3. ‘I must have the wrong skill set.’

These two, while both are common, are really the same issue at heart. If we stay empty or are struggling training-1713667_1920for a while, we often decide that the problem is the type of help we offer – that it’s not what people want.

I fell for this emotional illusion too. I re-trained, and then was still quiet, so I got another skill set, still quiet, so I went even further in the skills I had, getting higher qualifications. At the end of it I had loads of skills that were not being used.

Until I told the world what I could do and how it helped, I stayed empty. When I did, I got busy!

4. ‘People must want a higher level qualification!’

This is a subset of the last two but no less damaging for that. I’ve seen people list their qualifications, talk about how long they studied, and write about the scientific or holistic support for their therapy at great length, while avoiding telling us what they work with.

Seriously. When we think about it, people need to know why they might be interested in us long before they will want to know how highly trained we are.

I recently saw a Psychologist close up office. All her info was about how she was a ‘real’ therapist with 7 years experience. Sadly she didn’t say what she helped people with: grief? Relationships? Anxiety? I simply don’t know.

If client aren’t saying it to your face, then we can’t assume it. Normally this is our fear not reality.

5. ‘I’m not experienced enough.’

&

6. ‘I need to be better before I put myself out there.’

If you don’t have some fear at the start there’s something wrong with you 🙂 Again though people raise these as different points they are the same issue.

hidingI had this conversation over coffee with a colleague the other week. She’s a talented therapist who’s expanding to help more people with different issues. It really was a case of ‘how will you get more experienced before you see more clients?’ – ‘By starting and working with more clients!’ Yup.

It’s the only way. Start and do what you can. When you do this you develop more skill and ability with every hour worked. (By the way she helped someone the very next day who was in a bad way and needed someone straight away. Happy client and happy therapist.)

7. ‘What if somebody doesn’t change?’

This is massive and holds a lot of people back. Here’s the simple truth: some people won’t. However, most will in my experience.

Why do we think we have to have god-like powers? If someone needs to see a doctor and they have cancer, they will go to an Oncologist. What guarantee will that doctor give? Now, I have a lot of friends who are still alive because they went to Oncologists. If those doctors held back because not everyone will get well, that’s a lot of treatment that would be gone from the world.

I’ve taken a very mainstream example. One that most people look to if they need that sort of help. Here’s my question to you: Why do we feel we have to be held to a different standard?

Talking with hundreds of therapists in scores of methods used, the feedback is: most will work with us and try for change. Some won’t get change, but don’t let the fear of a bad result stop you from helping all those who can make a better life for themselves.

8. ‘What will people think?’

gossip-532012_1920I find this more often with people who have more life experience. Those who have lived and worked in their community seem more concerned about this than those starting fresh.

Usually we’re assuming people will think badly of us, but the reality often seems to be people value the life experience on top of the skills. In any case the only opinion that should matter is the one of the person in need. Who can you help? What difference will that help make to them?

Focus on the value of the change that is potentially there. This is what truly matters and giving it time can build motivation and success!

9. ‘I don’t have all my own issues sorted how can I talk about this?’

A wise man said to me some years ago ‘We don’t have to have our s**t sorted to help other people with theirs!’ He’s right.

If you needed help with something would you go to someone who understands it or someone who doesn’t?

That can be the way to look at it. To take the example of a Yoga Teacher I know who has mobility issues – they point out that in spite of their back injury, they are able to run their own Yoga business and help hundreds of people every year thanks to Yoga. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

I know a depressed Psychotherapist who has great results helping people out of depression. He says ‘I don’t know why mine won’t lift, but this understanding it gives me means I empathise and ‘get’ what people are going through and that helps me.’

Now of course there are some situations that would be a problem. A bankrupt ‘wealth coach’ might have some difficult questions, but even then there may be a good reason. For example ‘lost it all in a divorce’, ‘medical expenses ate it up,’ etc. Could all be examples of reasons that wouldn’t question ability even when a result is currently lacking.

Bottom line. We are where we are. Can you help somebody? That’s more important. Get moving!

10. ‘It’s not possible to earn a living at this.’

trouser-pockets-1439412_1920Pure and simple nonsense! Sure, when we’re struggling it can seem impossible, but that’s a limited viewpoint. There are vast numbers of successful therapists and coaches out there.

It doesn’t happen by magic. And it’s not just hard work. Loads of people work hard and see little reward. However, hard work combined with doing the right stuff makes all the difference.

Don’t think about this in terms of what we have to do to find a client, but start looking at what a person who needs your help would have to see or hear to notice you, understand that you can help, and reach out for that help.

This shift in mindset is delivering success for therapists and coaches all over the world. It’s not magic, it’s doing the right things consistently.

Please keep sharing your help.

Have a great week,

John

P.S.  If you are in the UK, and are interested in learning more about what I write and talk about on this blog, I am running a 2-day live training event on the 22nd-23rd April called ‘The Successful Therapist Masterclass‘ in London.

I’ll be showing all the strategies that are giving people waiting lists, allowing them to earn real incomes to live on, and to help a lot more people. This is our only UK Masterclass this year so book now if you want to kick-start your practice.

Tickets are just £247 for the full weekend. Book here

Full details on the seminar is HERE

Trust vs Price

Trust vs Price

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Price should never be ‘how much can I get?’ but should be a fair price for what’s offered.

Some therapy and coaching offerings take a lot and are going to be higher priced and that’s fine, however they can often be more difficult to sell. A point that has come up with a lot of therapists, is that often we assume a price is ‘too expensive’ if something is not availed of.

It’s not that simple. People spend huge amounts of money on stuff all the time. Why is that? Is it because those things deliver more value?

Let’s consider a few options that cost around €1,000:

Comparative Prices 1Comparative Prices 2Comparative Prices 3Comparative Prices 4Comparative Prices 5

These are all things people spend money on. The bicycle listed is in the top 5 most popular on the online bike store that I looked at. I know lots of people with top of the range smart phones. When I broke a tooth last year that was the quote to replace it and my local electric store sells a lot of expensive TV’s before each big soccer tournament like the Euro’s or World Cup. And yes Dyson does sell vacuum cleaners at that price. (Personally, this astounds me!)

So when I look up some of the more expensive offerings on a wellness directory, these are the first three I find:

Courses 1Courses 2Courses 3

The interesting thing is that by comparison to ongoing therapy, these are not that expensive.

CBT at €80 a session for a batch of 6 is €480 but it’s easier for people to commit to session-by-session payments, than a single payment of €350. However, while many people might be better off with Mindfulness as a preventative measure, usually we choose to act when a problem is significant and very obviously present. (No, I’m not judging these skill sets versus each other, just saying different approaches are right for different people at different times.)

A friend of mine did 4.5 years of Psychotherapy averaging more than bi-weekly, so she did about 50 sessions at €60 thus paying about €3,000 over that time. (By the way, she said it was the best money she ever spent.)

Yet it’s hard to get someone to pay up front for a service over about €150 (and that same magic number of 150 works in US Dollars, and Pound Sterling too. Would love some feedback on that point from my Australian and New Zealand friends. Does it work the same in your local currencies?)

But it’s not truly about the money at that price range. It’s about all-or-nothing decisions and trust for the most part.

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In my own journey of change I had great relief from anxiety and depression in about six months and at a cost of about a thousand overall. At the time I was going through those therapy options, I’m not sure I would have had enough confidence in the possibility of change to pay a lot up-front. However, around the same time I spent more than that both on a water softener and a long weekend away. Which was more valuable?

Why were these things something to spend a lot of money on when overcoming decades of anxiety and depression was not? (And for those who don’t know, I’m celebrating 6 years anxiety and depression free this year.)

In short I didn’t understand the process and I didn’t trust the results.

In my opinion this isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity when we understand it.

Most of us therapists and coaches know loads about what we do and a lot about related modalities. We have friends who are therapists, trainers, coaches, facilitators, and our perception is influenced by this.

We assume people know more than they do.

One lady said to me last year ‘The public are much better educated these days and they demand a high standard of Hypnotherapy, and will choose the best qualified!’

Really? Ask the average person in the street and they think it’s a parlour trick. Even professionals in other therapies will be unaware of the evidence base, for example, for things like IBS. (And if IBS interests you, check out Prof Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine & Gastroenterology in Manchester for some peer-reviewed research.)

No one outside the field knows what the different qualifications mean in any therapy. One scientist friend of mine asked me was there a difference between a Psychiatrist, a Psychologist, and Psychotherapist or were they all the same thing? She has a PhD from a medical college so you’d expect more understanding, but there it is.

So, here’s what we can do to make things better for everyone: the client in need, the therapist needing to earn a living, and the family and community of each who also see benefits when things improve.

It’s a two step process:

Explain things in an easy to grasp way for someone completely unaware of what the implications or potential is, for what you’re offering

and ……

Build trust. (I didn’t do enough of this at the start).

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How to do this… root your explanation in the experience someone has if they need your help. Put it as solidly and simply as possible in ways that describe what they feel and experience.

Stay on topic. Be consistent and remember that talking about the same thing in different ways show your depth of knowledge and your experience. Every time someone sees something more from you they develop more trust and understanding of you and what you can help with.

Having spoken to hundreds of clients who have paid €1,000 plus for therapy, my own coaching clients who pay €1,250 or €2,750 depending on which one-to-one year long program they’re in, and having spoken to many other trainers and therapists in different countries, it’s always a case of people needing to understand and trust the value.

That’s a long way from ‘It’s too expensive’ or ‘people don’t have money’.

Please, if you have a high value offering at a mid to high price fee, consider how you can show your value and build trust over a period of time – more of the people who need your help, will take it when you do.

Show you understand their difficulties and show the potential of what you have to offer.

As a general rule of thumb:

Fees and trust 1Fees and trust 2Fees and trust 3

But that’s not a problem. Being consistent in what we speak about, helps keep us busy and builds that trust level.

The fact that there are no guarantees in most coaching and therapy means people will understandably want to know we’re trained, capable, or experienced in what we do. Give them some reason to hope.

Consider this, if I wanted to go to Tony Robbins next ‘Unleash the Power Within’ event, the basic ticket is over a thousand and the top level is over three thousand. All the tickets at every level are currently sold out.

Why?

Is a Tony Robbins seminar going to change your life?

It could. I know people for whom it did, and I know a lot more for whom it didn’t. But he’s clear on what he does, he shows the value, he puts out a constant message, he uses testimonials, he does video etc. All these things build trust and hope.

Thanks to that, he’s helped more people than anyone else I can think of.

Yes he’s a mega-star now, but how did he build that?

Bit by bit.

It’s the same for people you’ve never heard of. I know people locally who are charging €1,500 for a 6 day course who are booked out each time. I know people charging €165 a session for psychotherapy who are booked out, I know people charging €1200 for 2 days training. I know people charging €1,500 a day for coaching and so on.

The only difference is they make enough of a connection, often enough, that people see and trust the value. There are no guarantees so people need to have enough hope to try for the better life they want. Let’s help them with that.

A mid or high priced offering should offer good value. If you let yourself earn that income then you get to keep doing it and people get the benefits of it.

In my opinion it should never be about ‘how much can you charge’ but should be about allowing us to stay going as therapists. I hate the ‘Get huge fees from High Paying Clients’ stuff you’ll see peddled about the internet.

Equally though, we should not be afraid of asking a fair fee if that is a high one. If you’re delivering that value, if your investment of time and energy requires it, then please do offer it, but make sure people see the value or it’ll be hard to fill.

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Let’s put in the effort to build that win for the clients and ourselves.

Please keep sharing your help,

John

How much does it cost you to stay empty?

How much does it cost you to stay empty?

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Yes I know that’s an odd question, but we often miss the obvious when it’s an absence.

So many people say ‘I can’t afford to advertise’, but seem content, week to week, with empty spaces in their diary. What’s the actual cost of that? Feeling a bit uncomfortable with that question? If so that’s a feeling that should highlight how important this question is.

Think about it. People who do work get paid. Plumbers, IT professionals, Estate Agents, Builders, Insurance Salespeople, etc. It’s OK to work and earn a living. It’s even more valuable when the work you do makes such a great difference in people’s lives.

But, we have to recognise that if we’re expecting to earn a living, money is involved. You didn’t get your skills for free, you invested in them. At that point you were a long way from seeing a return on that investment in yourself.

Now that return should be available. However, we often have difficulty seeing the big picture about earning a living.

Let’s take three real world examples: a Psychotherapist, a Physical Therapist, and a Business Coach.

Psychotherapist

Physical Therapist

business coach

Currently:

The Psychotherapist has 3 a week giving 210 in income and leaving 17 slots empty.

The Physical therapist has 8 a week giving 400 in income and leaving 22 slots empty.

The Business Coach has 5 a week giving 750 in income and leaving 20 slots empty.

Most people struggling will look at those numbers and think the empty slots are unfillable, but that’s not the case. When we don’t know how, it can seem daunting, but here’s where these numbers can help us.

The Psychotherapist has 17 slots empty. That’s 17 hours a week available to work at getting the message out. That’s a lot of powerful opportunity to see more clients the next week. And the value of the time they can fill is 1,190 per week!

How much time and effort is it worth putting in to build towards an extra 1,190 per week?

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The Physical therapist has 22 slots empty available. These are half hour long slots so she has 11 hours a week free to get the word out, and 1,100 in sessions every week that she can take on board, all she has to do is reach the clients who need her help.

The Business Coach has 20 slots empty. That’s 20 hours a week available to look for how best to fill them, and an extra earning potential of 3,000 every single week!

The potential income based on a 46 week working year (which is already ticking by), is:

Psychotherapist: 1,190 by 46 weeks = 54,740

Physical Therapist: 1,100 by 46 weeks = 50,600

Business Coach: 3,000 by 46 weeks = 138,000

Even filling half those slots would yield:

Psychotherapist: 1,190 by 46 weeks = 27,370

Physical Therapist: 1,100 by 46 weeks = 25,300

Business Coach: 3,000 by 46 weeks = 69,000

When we look at the potential, it’s much easier to build motivation and focus on the things that can help most. Now, does it seem more worthwhile advertising?

I really don’t know where we get the idea that our businesses should be able to run for free. Each year I meet loads of people who complain that they have to spend money on newspaper advertising, Facebook ads, online listings, etc.

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The reality is that if you’re looking to earn money, you’re in business and that realisation can let you be successful and help a lot more people.

The really good news is that it gets easier as you go. When you invest in putting the word out, you will get clients. That begins spreading word of mouth when they are happy with your service. You also develop more experience, which gives more confidence. It’s a win for the person who finds help, and a win for us as therapists who both earn an income and grow our abilities.

Sure, it is scary at the start. We usually have less money starting out and the cost can be felt keenly. But until we see clients, we’re not using our skills, not helping people, and not earning an income.

However, we have to recognise that we can only help people when they know we exist, can understand that we can help, and can find us.

That means putting ourselves out there into the world. That is going to take some money, but it can easily be just a small amount.

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Starting and getting income coming in, makes it much easier to grow and continue. Consistency is key. A small amount of advertising on a regular basis is more successful than a lot all at once.

My advice is: be professional with your time. Use the time that’s empty of clients, to find the people who need your help.

Pick a budget and keep going using that budget to grow the number of people you help. This method also grows your income making it easier to afford to keep getting the word out.

There are many booked-out therapists and coaches out there. It is possible.

You have to build that success. It doesn’t happen by magic.

One way to consider your budget, that I recommend a lot, is to set your weekly advertising at the cost of one client session.

So a therapist who charges 50 a session would only risk one client session in getting the word out each week. After a few weeks, as that advertising builds awareness and action, you should see more clients and it should be paying for itself.

Consider how much you spent on training. How much have you spent getting that training to the people who need your expertise and skills?

I’ve spoken to counsellors who spent 20,000 on their degree, NLP practitioners who spent 6,000 on their diploma, and Reiki practitioners who spent 1,200 on their qualifications.

What percentage is balanced against that, in getting it out to the world?

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I’ve seen Hypnotherapists spend 1,500 on a chair but not spend anything on advertising and not understanding why they were poor and not helping people.

I’ve seen a Business Coach pointing out they had no money for advertising and then spend thousands on a Tony Robbins retreat. (I’m sure it was great, but there must have been money available to do it).

In short, I’m hoping you will take a look (perhaps an uncomfortable one I’ll grant) at how you look at your business.

Please choose to help, be professional with your time, and do what works to make your dream of helping people and making a difference, a reality. When you do, you also get to earn a real income.

Every best wish for success,

John

 

What does it feel like being a therapist or coach?

What does it feel like being a therapist or coach?

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We expect the feeling of ‘wow, I’m making a difference’, ‘I’m so happy to help people improve their lives’, and ‘this is why I’m here’, and they are great feelings. The job satisfaction is astounding.

However, unfortunately the more common feelings are ‘I’m worried I’ll have to stop because I’m not earning a living’, ‘I can’t afford my CPD’, ‘I’m going to have to get a job that doesn’t help people so I can pay my mortgage’, ‘My skills are being wasted, why did I spend so much time and money on this when it’s not wanted?’ These are the sad reality, day to day for too many therapists. Thoughts are being merely punctuated by the positives, while the crushing reality of a struggling business dominates.

stress

How common is this? Hugely!

My work is followed in over 100 countries, I’m connected to tens of thousands of therapists on social media, and talk to many, many therapists each week. I get a lot of feedback from what people are experiencing.

The bottom line is that more than 2 out of every 3 therapists in private practice say they are struggling. Most are seeing only a handful of clients and are despondent about ever being busy.

The common experience is constant worry about where to find clients, worry about money, and feeling undervalued.

We then nearly always start questioning our choices:

‘Don’t people want my help?’

‘Am I good enough?’

‘Maybe it isn’t possible to be successful’

When we’re not busy we’re thinking about it, or worrying about it more often. It’s hard to leave work at work when we go home, if we don’t know how we’ll pay the rent next month. Our minds stay constantly occupied working on the problem, we relax less, we stress more. Things don’t get easier when we remain stuck in that state.

So what can we do about this? There are 3 ways to try:

1. Lower our stress levels so our brains work better and we feel more able to work for change.

2. Change how we find clients (as the current same old stuff clearly isn’t working).

3. Make sure we’re sustainable as we get busier. i.e. Not burning out, earning a wage that lets us keep going as a professional, having enough time off to live life.

The good news is that these three are interrelated, so improving one area makes a positive difference in the others too.

So let’s take them in turn.

1. When we’re stressed our brains are in crisis mode. Concentration, creativity, clear thinking and long term planning are reduced. It’s also harder to motivate ourselves.

By having some down time – completely switched off from thinking about work – it makes it easier for the brain to give you concentration and motivation when you need it.

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In short, it’s easier for us to get some work done after a break. Make that time count. One hour well focused, delivers more than a poorly managed day of stress typically does. Think of it as Doing, taking less than Getting Around to it. It’s easier to get around to it when less stressed.

If you’re antsy and can’t sit still, then go for a walk or do some mindfulness and it will give you a period of better focus. (More activation in your prefrontal cortex and less in survival-mode).

Work in short periods where you work for an hour and then stop. That trains your mind to be able to give focus for set periods. I found this worked well for myself when coming out of years of anxiety, and I have seen it yield dividends for many clients.

2. Change your marketing methods. Cards, brochures, flyers, posters are all useful but won’t fill a diary any more.

Your website is only as useful as the number of people who find it. Putting up a website and thinking that’s a big step is an error. Do have a website, but understand that you need to tell people where to find it, and more importantly – why they would want to!

Keep a focus of ‘How will this make it easy for someone to see how I can help?’ at each step.

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Our guiding principle is always ‘How easy can I make it for someone to reach out for help?’

Never think, ‘They’ll look it up if interested’. Make it simple for people to act.

Go where the people are. Use newspapers, speak to groups, use social media (Facebook out-performs all others by 5-1, at least in my testing over several years and in different countries).

Get the word out. As I often say – your fear of putting yourself out there has to be less than your desire to help others. I hope it is!

3. As you get busier, make sure you schedule things to allow you to live.

Your fee has to allow you to pay rent, eat, support family, and whatever else your life entails.

Calculate your fee based on this, not on ‘what are others charging’ or ‘I think that sounds right’, or especially not ‘People can’t afford that’. Don’t mind read. Base it on reality!

How many people a week can you see without burning out? Multiply that by the number of weeks you plan to work in a year. Now divide that into the annual income you need to live.

That’s the minimum fee you could charge if everyone showed up and you were full. Charge 20% more to cover expenses and no-shows.

Make sure you protect your energy and don’t over-work because your fee is too low. If that happens you’ll burn out and have to get a different job.

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Sustainability is about helping a lot of people in this life. To do that you must be rested enough to do good work, and rewarded enough to be able to support yourself to keep doing it.

Let me leave you with a final thought.

There are more people who need help than we could ever see. It’s not about price, or how good we are (I wish it were), it’s about how many people know and understand our offering.

We only get to help the people who know we exist and understand what we can do for them.

Everything has to be about them, not us in how we put that message out there.

Have a great week. Please leave any comments and questions you like and I’ll be happy to reply.

John