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Things I wish I’d been told before starting my practice.

Things I wish I’d been told before starting my practice.

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In so many ways I had the wrong expectations when I started.  Had anybody told me a few very simple things, it would have saved alot of heartache.  So here's 10 things I wish I'd been told.

1. You’re not in business just by having a skill or qualification, you’re only in business when you have clients to use those skills with!

I thought I was ready on day one. I so wasn’t!

I had no idea how to find enough clients to be able to afford to continue. 90% of the work at the start, is finding clients. That changes as we go, and done well, once the business takes off, it only takes 5-10% of the job to stay busy, but I was not prepared for how much I had to learn at the start.

Marketing works differently for us in wellness than for retail and industry. I had a background in marketing in traditional ways and it was useless to me.

It’s a totally different paying field where we need to be more about informing and educating rather than selling. Knowing that would have saved me years of effort and five figure sums. It would also have let me help a lot more people in the first few years, as well as being able to earn a better income when it was badly needed just to survive.

 

2. You’ll have to spend and advertise – clients can’t mind read and just know you’re there.

I had thought that putting up a sign and putting out cards and flyers was all I needed to do at the start. Turns out most people don’t understand any type of therapy or coaching and just referencing qualifications and skillsets misses those who need our help.

I had to keep getting my message out week after week to build success. At first in newspapers where it was about six thousand a year I was spending to be half way to busy. Then when I worked out the psychology of connection and got on Facebook, that dropped to under three hundred a year.

Again, if I’d known then what I know now…

 

3. Finding clients is a different skill from helping them.

Yes, I was naive. I thought it would be easier to find clients. That expectation caused a lot of sleepless nights and fear.

It turned out it’s not that finding clients is always hard, just that trying to do it from a starting point of no expertise in therapy marketing, is a tough job. Looking around me now most of the therapists I see have been trying for years and years and are still not busy. It’s heart-breaking.

However, they’re all trying to work it out by themselves while trying to earn an income to support their families. Somehow, we all assume that we should start out as expert marketing gurus for this niche.

It’s a separate skill and trying to develop it from scratch by myself cost me dearly. Had someone explained this to me on day one, I would have saved over ten thousand on newspaper advertising alone in the first couple of years.

 

4. People won’t always tell you when they’re better.

This was a life lesson learned the sharp way. A client with Irritable Bowel Syndrome came to me. We started working and six sessions in I was really worried. No word of any improvement. Was I wasting her time and mine? Was I delivering value for her money?

It was terrifying to ask is this working. But I did. “How’s the IBS at this stage?” and the answer came back: “Oh, that went away after the 1st session!”

Stunned silence. OK this one was on me. I needed to ask more and be less afraid. Easy to see in hindsight but I’m sure I wasn’t the only novice therapist who did that.

5. It’s not your skillset they want, it’s a solution to their problems using those skills.

I offered Hypnotherapy at the start. No one wanted that. They wanted solutions to their challenges in life and didn’t really care what method was used.

Until I spoke about their life experience, they were not interested in my method. We usually get that backwards. Be about the help not the method and life will get easier too.

 

6. ‘If you’re good you’ll be busy’ is a lie.

Word of mouth is slow to build for most people. In asking hundreds of therapists, it turns out that if you’re moderately busy it takes an average of 3-5 years for word of mouth to make an appreciable contribution to your practice.

Word of mouth only builds when people talk about us. Some things people talk about more easily than others.

Stopping smoking, losing weight, success in sports, better business performance, yoga, etc are all things people talk about more easily.

Depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, grief, and so on are things people talk about a lot less.

At the start, how good we are has nothing to do with how busy we are. At the start it’s all about finding those initial clients who can spread work of mouth. The most gifted and best trained therapist in the world is just as likely to be empty and stop practicing unless they work out how to get their message out and to connect with people.

So often I hear people trying to encourage others with sentences like this and it’s counterproductive. If we’re not busy it’s more likely about marketing, rather than how good we are. I know great therapists who are poor and struggling for clients, and other marketting-savvy people who are busy, but who I am not sure are getting results.

Busy does not equal good, and good does not equal busy.

7. People will be available when you are working if you give the times you work.

At the start I worked every time clients asked me to work. If someone wanted to see me late on an evening, I went in. If someone wanted to see me early on a weekend I went in.

I was struggling and couldn’t afford to risk losing the work and I wanted to help the person too.

Turns out that when I told people I was not available at unsociable hours, then but gave them time options that suited me, 19 out of every 20 could actually make it in the times that suited me. I had assumed people could only attend at the times they said they wanted to. It left me with no life. No time off, as at any moment I could end up back at work.

It was a huge steady stress that I didn’t notice, but which held me back from getting myself out more effectively to help more people.

 

8. It’s not all about price. It’s about the help.

When doubting my ability because I was not busy, I thought I needed to be cheaper. It was purely about not enough people knowing about me and understanding what I do that was keeping me empty, but I worried about money and assumed it was a price issue.

Let’s face it, no one will choose to go for something they don’t feel they need just because it’s cheaper than it was before.

Once I was able to get my message to resonate with those who it was right for, then they saw the need and price was not an issue.

It never was, but I imagined it was and started cutting my price. I saw no extra clients, just less work. I helped the same number of people and was now struggling more. It nearly made me stop.

It’s not about the fee. It’s about the value we deliver. That’s where I had to focus to be successful.

 

9. A lot of people won’t show up, often for good reasons. Plan for it.

There will be kids who get sick, funerals, last minute work demands and more that will all mean people genuinely have to cancel at the last minute. It’s not disrespect, or nastiness, it’s just life.

We must allow for the fact that we need to book in more clients than we need just to keep going.

There are many options. People could pay in advance when they book, we could just accept it will happen, we could have a cancellation policy (though they rarely work), or any other method we like, but simply getting frustrated and not planning for it was a bad move

If I need to see 10 clients to afford to live then I should book in 12 that week to be safe.

 

10. It is possible to be booked out.

I really didn’t believe I could succeed when starting. I thought I’d always be poor and struggling. It was necessity that pushed me on to being successful.

Planning to pay income taxes was a great motivator It made me sit up and realise I needed to start taking my business seriously.

I realised that my business is a tool that, when I use it well, allows me to help more people and support my family.

If we want a real income, one that we can live on, we need to help enough people to enable us to earn tens of thousands every year. That’s going to take a bit of time and effort. For me the breakthrough was realising the language and psychology that connects with the clients is the most vital thing, and then applying that on Facebook where I could reach people locally at a fraction of the cost of other options.

I only got booked-out and had a waiting list when I pushed for it. Sitting back and waiting for things to ‘take off’ was a choice to fail.

Success is built. I know no-one who just got lucky and was suddenly busy (I’m sure it happens though), but I see a lot of people who put in the work and pushed themselves. (I see a lot more people who work hard to be successful than who get there with little work.)

I hope you’re getting your help out to a lot of people!

Have a great week,

John

If you’d like the exact strategies, psychology of connection, and post structures that build my waiting list you can find full details of the comprehensive online training HERE

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The top 10 usual problems that hold therapists back! #6 is the one I didn’t want to admit to 😊

The top 10 usual problems that hold therapists back! #6 is the one I didn’t want to admit to 😊

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The fear of failure, lack of money, stress about being good enough, worry about where our next client will find us, or even if they will at all, can make being a self-employed therapist or coach a pretty stressful choice.

We all want to make a difference, to make the world a bit better by helping people, to reduce suffering, and to earn a living doing something so meaningful.

It should be win / win and easy – we deliver real help, people get huge benefits. Why is it so hard?

When I’d suffered decades of severe anxiety and depression, I needed help. It was available all through my life , yet I never found it until I was 37. Therapists were there, the exact method that worked at age 37 was there when I was 7. What was the problem?

We can’t just ‘advertise’ in the traditional ways. It doesn’t reach and connect with people. We must make our message resonate with the person suffering if we want to help them.

That’s the missing link. We’re never taught how to do this when we learn our helping-people skills.

So, here are the 10 most common barriers to success which have come up time and time again, as I've helped hundreds of therapists across over a dozen countries.

10.  Lack of money

This is usually a barrier in our heads rather than a real issue. There is an expectation that it must be expensive to start and build a business.

It doesn’t have to be.

There are lots of low cost options. Don’t have your own office? I’ve seen people rent other therapists offices on days they’re not there or hire a meeting room in a hotel. Both low cost options. I know therapists and coaches working over the phone and online video conferencing, another two even cheaper options.

Advertising can be expensive, sure. I was spending nearly six thousand a year to be nearly busy, but all I needed was to get past my fear of Social Media and work out Facebook – that now keeps me booked out with a waiting list for under three hundred a year! Way cheaper.

My advice is: start with the cheaper options and then switch to others which may have more initial outlay, but save money in the longer term. (For example my own office saves me money now, but when I had one client to see it was out of reach).

9.  Not comfortable with technology

That was me. I know that’s hard to believe these days, but I had a knot in my stomach about using Facebook to start with.

If something is holding me back ,I weigh it against the cost of not doing it. ‘is my fear of technology more important than helping hundreds of people every year?’

These sort of questions can really help put things in context. We can learn whatever we need. Usually we hold back by avoiding what is really on the line.

So, what would be better – learning to use some technology, maybe getting training or having a friend show us, or having to work a job we don’t want just for money because we didn’t make the career helping people a reality?

8.  Uncertainty over which options are best.

I hear you. This can strangle us. There are so many options. Here’s my key advice. Don’t take advice from anyone who is not already successful in your business.

I get more advice from people who are broke or who are generic marketing pros with no idea how therapy and coaching works when it comes to reaching clients. If they are not doing this themselves they are not experts, no matter how persuasive they are.

Ask people you know are successful. See what they recommend. Balance all choices with what it costs versus what can it deliver. Be pushy, this is your future and the future of those you can help we’re talking about.

7.  Not sure how to start their practice – home, office etc.

Most often the holding back here comes from imagining problems. Every option is a solution. They all let us help people. Get started, then get better options.

I know one very talented therapist who held back because she imagined hiring an office to work from would be prohibitively expensive. I pushed her to look and she found a room in a therapy centre at fifteen an hour. Yup, she felt foolish for having held back, but is now helping people every week and earning an income too.

6.  What if someone is mean to me?

What if you are so mean to yourself that you deny yourself an income, a career that makes the world a better place, and lets people suffering continue to linger without help? That’s the exchange for hiding.

You know what, someone probably will be mean to you at some point. Particularly if you deal with any psychological issues. It’s about where they are, not about us.

If you want to avoid all criticism the old saying holds true – ‘do nothing, be nothing, say nothing’. However, is that why you trained to help people? I think not.

5.  Tried and failed – lost money, hesitant as a result.

A lot of us have been burned. However, that’s usually more about not understanding how to connect with the client in need than about us, what we offer, or how much we spent.

I often mention a wellness business in the UK that spent £500,000 on newspaper advertising. The result was 0 new clients. Was that about them, their offering, or how much money they committed to it? No, I know this because now they are a seven-figure business. All they had to do was connect with the needs of their clients.

Have heart. Look at what is and isn’t working. Identify who can help sort whatever isn’t working. Don’t simply put up with it – tackle it head on and make changes based on evidence. See #8 above!

4.  Can’t find clients so stopped trying.

This is usually code for “I don’t have clients and am worried about money”. Normally we start second guessing this against ‘should I get a job’.

Morale can be low. Money can be low. However, these are not insurmountable issues. Weigh it against the effort of the other job. How many hours a week would I have to work as an alternative? How many hours am I putting into this one to make it work?

Usually at this stage, we do very little other than spend our time worrying . However, realising that we’re just sitting there worrying rather than building for success, can be a real wake up call.

Seeing how much time we have on hand can make us wake up and start building success. After all, if we have no time then we’re fine as it means we don’t need clients -we don’t have the time to see them!

If we could see 5, 10, 20 clients a week then that time is there now! Use it to find clients. Any work time without a client in front of you is time to work on finding the next client.

Don’t quit until a real effort has been made. See #8 above again.

3.  What will people think?

Amazingly, this is a huge one. I say amazingly as we all deny this is an issue, but for a lot of people it is a huge impediment to get going.

Yes, we must put ourselves out there if we want to help people. Yes, some people will probably not understand what we do or why we do it. However, what would you rather have people think – you’re doing something about helping people, or you have a normal job?

In short, your desire to help has to be strong. Stronger than your fear or desire to hold back.

Whose opinion matters most to you?

The opinion of neighbours, or the opinion of the person stuck or suffering who needs your help?

What makes the bigger difference in the world?

If being unnoticed is the goal in life then that’s at odds with making the world a better place, helping people, earning a living, using our skills to help others, and getting to feel good about what we do and what we have accomplished in life.

Step forward and make a difference. Let the rest go!

2.  Worry about being good enough in delivering help

What is I’m not good enough? What if they don’t change?

Well, they may not. You’re not gifted with supernatural powers. We don’t have magic.

Nothing works 100% of the time. People can have fears, they can be resistant to change, they can be seeking tacit permission not to change (for example, the smoker who is pushed to therapy. They can then say ‘I went to the best and I still smoke so leave me alone it’s not my fault'). There are any number of ways for people to stop attending.

But the truth is, I’ve yet to meet a therapist or coach who couldn’t help others.

If we’re not ready to take on all issues then fine, focus on what we’re most comfortable with. If I was uncomfortable helping with panic issues in general, then maybe I’d focus on phobias until I got more experience and my confidence grew.

If I didn’t want to handle back or neck-pain, then I could focus on elbows and knees until I gain more experience.

Find the part you’re most comfortable with. There are probably more people who need just that help, than you could ever see. It’s just a matter of identifying that need and putting it in front of the right people.

The question shouldn’t be ‘what can I do to get ready’, it should be ‘what can I help with right now?’

It may be that we can only help some people. It’ll probably be that we can help a lot of people.

Worrying what will happen if someone doesn’t change and holding back because of that guarantees that many, many people will never get to benefit from our help and will not change.

Your choice. Help as many as possible, or don’t try?

1.  Fear of failure

This is the big one. We take it personally when things don’t go well, but more damaging than that is that we hold back from doing what would work, for fear it might not.

If I make a real effort to fill a room and it fails then that’s serious, however if I’m half hearted in my efforts then I have an excuse and my ego is protected.

I’ve done that. I’ve had the failures. They were my own fault because I was holding back. However, I tried again, and again until I can now reliably fill a room and help more people.

The truth is that everything we want is built by facing fear and stepping over it.

Fear holds us back, but we don’t make a difference by holding back. Build motivation, question any fears. Step up and accept there can be fear. It’s normal. It’s part of life. We can win over it. We can make a difference – and it gets easier each time we step out of our comfort zone.

I hope you will bring your help to a lot of people this year!

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The Rush: It all has to be done now!

The Rush: It all has to be done now!

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I need to get the word out now! I must fill my classes now! I can’t wait and let the opportunity slip past! I need to fill my diary, I need clients now.

How do I do it all at the one time? I have to, I need the money… etc.

I expect this has been the case all year, but now it feels like it has to happen NOW!

In reality there’s never a good time to start.

Really, it’s true. But that also means the best time is now.

Not for any reason than it gets easier when we take action.

The down side of the ‘It must be now’ thinking, is it creates false precipices for us to fall off. We make arbitrary decisions on dates, we put unrealistic expectations up front because we feel pressure, and we make decisions based on urgency rather than what will work best.

I’ve done it. Waited and worried then felt the panic rise and rushed off the cards to the printers. I’m sure you’ve guessed it – yes I’d misspelt psychotherapist on them!

A colleague of mine procrastinated for ages then tried to do it all at once and spent a lot on a sign with the same problem, she’d misspelled it!

I got a call recently from a business owner who I’d spoken to 4 years ago. It was 10:30 at night when they called my home number. ‘I have to get my Facebook page up tonight!’ I was told.

Well, if it wasn’t an issue for 4 years it’s not likely to be an issue now.

The problem with ‘the rush’ is we do things stressed when we rush. Quality suffers, we make mistakes, and we load too much pressure on at the start.

Now, let’s be clear. I like to push and to get a lot done, but I also realise a longer view gives better results.

Here are three pieces of advice for building success rather than a headache 😊

 

1. It’s not that people don’t want it, just that it takes longer to make it happen.

I see people trying to fill seminars and classes on a few weeks’ notice. That’s very hard to do. If you’ve a large following and people know about you and your offer already then that is fine, but if you’re new or launching something for the 1st time you will do better to have a longer campaign.

I generally can fill a room of 30-40 people for a detailed training, by campaigning that event over 10 weeks. The same event at 3-4 weeks notice, to a new audience, will have 20-25 people.

Now, forgive my lack of modesty here, but I’m good at putting my message out. Don’t expect to fill a room on your 1st outing unless you’re already good at marketing.

The courses I’ll see filled in January are planned in November, offered in December, and pushed in January. The courses I see filled in September are planned in July, offering in August and pushed in September. Give people time to see what you’re about more than once. Build interest and bookings over time.

Ideally give an early bird offer to cover the costs of the event right at the start. This way you know it’s going ahead and can get yourself out there with more conviction when the worry of ‘will I get enough people to go ahead’ is removed.

Every January and September I see my newsfeeds filling up with ‘event cancelled’ notices as people’s hopes and dreams crumble – not because they are offering things that are not wanted, not because people are not interested, not even because of the prices, but because the way people make new buying decisions requires more time.

It’s not you. It’s not your help. It’s just marketing. Cut yourself some slack. Take a deep breath and plan again on a more realistic scale.

 

2. Just as people need time to make a decision, you need to take time to build success.

Life is not the X-Factor. Simon Cowell is not going to pluck you from obscurity and fill your room. Even in that competition most people have been struggling for years before becoming an overnight success.

It’s fine to be ambitious. But use realistic planning.

Schedule your year. What is your goal for each month?

If it’s to build to 20 clients a week, that needs to scale. If my plan is ‘Get 20 clients’ I’ll have a feeling of failure at every step of the way.

If my plan is get 2 next week, four more the week after and so on then I can celebrate success as I go and it’s a more manageable task.

If the plan is to earn 60,000 this coming year it needs to be broken down to a schedule to make it both doable and low stress along the way.

For example.

40,000 in client sessions = 400 client sessions on a fee of 100.

If I’m working 46 weeks in the year I’d need a plan for building towards getting that few clients extra each week, rather than just assuming I’d have 9 a week straight off.

So maybe that should be:

Week 1 = 2 clients

Week 2 = 4 clients

Week 3 = 6 clients

Week 4 = 8 clients

Week 5 = 10 clients

It can seem demoralising to be looking for just 2 new clients each week but that’s much easier to build. The bottom line: this time next year, where will you be if you do this rather than try the all at once method again?

So, the other 20,000, where does this come from?

A 12-week evening course/group session.

Campaign it for 2-3 months. Planning let’s say for 25 people each paying 150 = 3,750

Run the same thing for the same course all over again in 6 months’ time. That’s a total of 7,500.

Perhaps a 2-day weekend workshop for 25 people at 250 each.

Again, campaign this for 2-3 months in advance and it’s much more likely to succeed.

Do that twice a year and it’s another 12,500

That’s a potential 60,000. The only hope of getting there is to plan it. Schedule, it. Campaign it.

Plan your year and build each step in a realistic timeframe to make a better future.

Panic-planning to fill something now is a poor option to developing a real schedule in advance.

You have time. Success is not a race. It must be built one block at a time. Be gentle with yourself. Work regularly and be smart!

 

3. Rather than ‘what must I do to be successful right now?’, look at ‘what must I do right now to be successful?’.

What can be done today to build success? This question is way more powerful than ‘How can I be successful today?’

The odds are that success can’t be achieved in one day. Fair enough to say that?

However, to be in a better place this time next year we must act now.

What useful step will make a difference today?

What step will make the next step easier and add to your success?

If we don’t know what to do then the 1st thing to do is make a list of what we feel is needed but which we don’t know how to do.

For example, if we don’t know what should be the 1st step then the 1st thing on our list is – find a system that works and follow that until we can adapt it as needed.

We can model successful people. We can learn from professionals. We can brainstorm with friends and colleagues. By identifying the problem in even simple ways we can move forwards and address them.

There is never a dead end. As long as we keep moving and looking for options we’re creating chances for success. Sitting at home feeling sad and doing nothing until we break out in a mad rush of activity that doesn’t work very well is not a plan. But it’s what happens when we don’t have a plan.

Plan!

Schedule realistic time into the plan!

Seek answers for any question that holds things back!

Success is possible. Six years ago, I was seeing 1-2 clients some weeks. Now the waiting list is weeks long. My seminars are booked out. My online training is being taken all over the world.

Why? I kept going. I build one step then the next. I realised it was not about me, my help, or my method. It was about connecting with people and that takes time.

Give it the time it deserves, give it the energy it deserves. Make a difference that matters.

Every best wish sharing your help with the world!

John

 

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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The Journey to Success

The Journey to Success

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train-1728537_1920

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.

advertising-981455_1920

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.

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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.

Standard Entry

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

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