7 Tips to Build Rapport with Your Client via Online Therapy

Tell me if this sounds familiar:  

“I’ve never been super interested in offering online therapy sessions because I think you’d lose valuable information, such as body language, tone, and pacing.” Turns out, you’re not alone.  When we asked, “Why would you NOT want to offer online therapy sessions?” 15 out of 30 responses had to do with concerns related to challenges to building rapport with their client through online sessions.

Building rapport with your client via online sessions is a skill that can be developed.  The more comfortable a therapist is with the video platform, the more likely they will be to build rapport with their client.  So, ask a few colleagues to let you do a session with them as you get familiar with the platform.

In the meantime, here are 7 practical tips to build rapport with your client via video:

CREATE A THERAPEUTIC SPACE

Find a blank wall to stand in front of, make sure the fan is turned off, and adjust your lighting (pro tip: stand next to a window, there’s nothing better than natural lighting when you’re on camera).

MINIMIZE YOUR FACE

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but pose throughout my conversations when I can see myself in the video chat.  Minimize distractions by minimizing your face so that all your focus can be on your client!

WEAR HEADPHONES

Ever put your earbuds in when you really just wanted to escape the noise around you?!  Same idea. Minimize distractions and increase your focus by wearing earbuds during your sessions.  Not only do earbuds increase connection but they improve the clarity of your voice on the receiving end!

LEAVE SOME SHOULDER ROOM

I know we’ve been discussing how to create a better connection with your client via video sessions, however, no one wants you up in their face.  An easy way to make sure you’re not too close to the camera is to make sure you’ve got some shoulder room in the screen.  Sound good?

PRE-ACTIVITY DISCUSSION

I’ll admit it, there is some information lost on a video session.  For instance, if you’re writing notes about the session on a separate piece of paper your client might not understand why you’re looking down and to the side in the middle of a session.  So, just let them know at the beginning of the session, “If you see me looking down, I have my notepad right here, so that’s just me taking notes on our discussion.”

STRONG WIFI

Nothing is worse than a bad connection. Pre-scout wherever you’re gonna set up your tablet to make sure you have strong enough internet.

DISCUSS BACK UP PLAN

That being said, sometimes WIFI has a mind of its own even when you’ve scouted strong connections, so make a plan with your client about what you will do if you get disconnected: “If we get disconnected try to get back in.  If you can’t get back in is it okay if I call you?”.

We believe that online therapy is such a powerful tool to living life on your own terms and serving those who otherwise wouldn’t get treatment.  Here’s to you using these seven tips to give online therapy a chance or serve your current clients with MORE excellence!

If you’re interested in trying online therapy, but don’t know where to begin schedule a demo with us!

The Best Way for a Therapist to Get Their Blog Read

“So basically, you need to be an expert at SEO if you want your blog to be seen?” I interrupted.

“No, not exactly…” Marissa explained.

Oh good, I thought.  There’s hope for us: the writers, the therapists, the business people – the person just trying to get their stuff into the world to influence, impact, and inspire.

Lucky for us, Marissa went on to explain three ways to get your blog post seen (and, yes, SEO is included):

  1. Frequency
  2. Formatting
  3. Marketing (wish I could come up with a word for marketing that started with “f”)
social media marketing for therapists; establish yourself as an expert through blog posts

FREQUENCY

Turns out, frequency is not as important as consistency.  Marissa explained that it would be better to post once a week on the same day and the same time each week, than three times at random days and times.

Anyone else like, “I can sign up for one blog post each week on the same day and time?!”.

“Depending on where you’re at in your business depends how frequently you post,” Marissa elaborated.  “If you’re in the building phase of your practice, your visibility online needs to be weekly – same day, same time.”  

You should keep this up for a minimum of twelve months.  After you get to twelve months, you’ll have fifty-two blog posts.  Now you’re maintaining visibility so you can do bi monthly or monthly.  When you’re not introducing fresh content to your audience you can direct your audience to the previous content you created via push marketing (we will talk about at the end of this post).

FORMATTING

Formatting is a combination of font, emphasis, and images.  

You want your font to be a comfortable reading size, but more importantly, you want there to be sufficient space between lines, words, and in the margins so that the content doesn’t feel like a cramped textbook.  Think about creating a therapeutic environment for your text online.

With the speed of the internet we’re all culprits for scanning content.  Emphasis, whether that’s putting quotations in a box or italicizing sentences that you don’t want people to miss.  Taking the time to emphasize the sentences that carry a punch will dramatically increase how many people read and apply the content you’re giving them!

How many blog posts do you read that don’t have pictures?  Unless it’s some sort of research or business post, probably not many.  Images keep your readers attention and break up text in a similar way to adding emphasis.  We recommend 2-3 images for every 5000 characters.  

MARKETING

There’s push marketing, which is anytime you’re pushing your content into the world.  Think social media. And there’s pull marketing: SEO.

Choosing the best social media platform to be on comes down to knowing which platform your audience predominantly uses.  If you don’t know, no worries, facebook is still the most used social media platform, so you can’t go wrong starting there (while you’re at it steal these ideas for leveraging facebook).

Marissa was clear about the following two things when it came to leveraging social media:

  1. Join facebook groups that cater to your ideal clients; get busy encouraging and serving the members.
  2. Only start with ONE social media platform: Until you can track your conversions and have a solid social media strategy there’s no point in spreading yourself thin on more than one platform.  In other words: Before you add a platform get clear on how you’re converting clients, growing your audience, and increasing views on your current platform.

Pull marketing is when you’re attracting viewers by leveraging systems that are already in place.  SEO (search engine optimization) is the way google connects related information and generates results for what people search.   

“You don’t have to be an SEO guru,” Marissa was a welcomed voice a reason.  “There’s 10 MUST DOs for SEO just shoot for 5-7.”

Here’s a list you’re welcome to use for yourself:

  1. Do a keyword search
  2. Choose your post title well
  3. Include keywords in your url
  4. Use your image text
  5. Optimize your heading
  6. Use relevant internal links
  7. Write a meta description
  8. Link your post to old posts
  9. Choose tags and categories strategically
  10. Check for rich result in SERP (search engine results page)
social media marketing and increasing blog views for therapist.

Now, you have a choice:  You can be overwhelmed by all these techniques and not post until you can get them all right (which, let’s be real, might never happen), or you can choose one of these techniques and commit to sharing your wisdom in the off chance that it will fall into the hands of someone who desperately needs it.

Here’s what we recommend: Just pick one day of the week to post and what time of day you’re gonna share your wisdom with the world.  Commit to it for three months, six months, twelve months – whichever length of time you believe you’re capable of.  And gradually, you’ll find yourself adding formatting, push marketing, and pull marketing techniques.

Before you go, I want to leave you with this encouragement from Marissa:

As a therapist you are a professional at emotion and communication.  When you realize that you have all the skills you need to establish yourself as an expert, online blogging and social media marketing can go from something that’s really hard to something that’s really fun.

P.S. If you liked this post you’ll probably like “The most productive blog post a therapist can write…”. Feel free to connect directly with Marissa Lawton and take the survey to discover what your natural marketing style is!

How to write the most productive blog post as a therapist

Missing Out On Clients

If you don’t have these two things on your website you might be missing out on new clients.

Something awesome just happened. Wanna know what it is?!

Lucy was given a referral to five therapists and one of them is you!

She’s so excited about taking this step toward letting go of her past that she stops at a Starbucks on the way home. While she waits for her pumpkin spice latte she whips out her iPhone and googles each of the therapist.

Guess what pops up?!

That’s right: websites.

In your journey to build an online business you may have heard once or twice that you don’t NEED a website. Okay, they’re kinda right. But if you’re going to be receiving referrals YOU NEED A WEBSITE.

And not just any website. You need a website that sets you apart as THE therapist who can help Lucy walk into the next level of herself.

When creating a compelling website it’s easy to throw around words like “clean visuals” and “clear messaging,” but at the end of the day, every image and word on your website needs to do two things:

  • Eliminate distraction
  • Guide to a specific action

 

 

ELIMINATE DISTRACTION

Make sure your images match your words.
Images should match and amplify what you’re saying or add to the story. In other words, if you want to help women like Lucy overcome trauma don’t use a photo of yourself coaching a man. Use a photo where you’re compassionately listening to a young woman. Maybe you specifically work with women but can’t quite fit that into your tagline. So you add to the story by showing who you serve through the image you use.

Stick to a theme.
Whether words or images pick a theme and stick to it. If you want to use photos of yourself coaching others, use those on every page. If you want to show people living their best life in nature, do it.

But don’t use a cartoon character on the home page, a photo of yourself in a pretty building on your about page, and people on the top of a mountain on your “package description” page.

The same goes with the words you use. If you’re gonna use a playful voice on your home page don’t switch to a professional voice on your about page.

Remember, the images and words on your website are all about minimizing distraction and pointing your viewer to taking the action you want them to take.

GUIDE TO A SPECIFIC ACTION

Let your visuals inspire curiosity.
One of the most challenging things about creating a website that converts is that you only have a few seconds to captivate your audience’s attention. A simple question to ask yourself is, “What do I want my viewers to do when they see this page?”.

Let’s pretend you want them to actually READ your “about me” page. We suggest you use a photo of yourself doing something random; one that makes you feel inviting and relatable, but also begs the question, “What are they doing?”.

Our minds are wired for closure, meaning whether it’s a musical piece, puzzle, or story we want the ending. So, every visual you use should guide you viewer to take the action you want them to take, which ultimately completes the story they have found.

Let your words inspire action.
This is where I tell you to drop the poetic lines we assume taglines are made of. Get straight to the point.

When Lucy finally makes it to your website she only wants to know what’s in it for her.

Are you the right person to help her walk into this next season of her life?

So your website needs to simply and directly state who you serve and why you are perfect for them. You can say “I help trauma survivors walk in triumph.” Or you can suggest, like our featured professional Lyda: “It’s time to get unstuck.”

Simple and direct works because if you’re a survivor, you’re like, “That’s me and I want to walk in triumph, what’s next?” Lyda’s suggestion works because if you’re feeling stuck, you’re like, “Heck yes, when will our schedules fit.”

Want to SEE what we’re talking about?! Check out Amber Lyda’s website.

therapist dr. amber lyda

Here’s what you’ll see:

  1. The action Lyda wants you do take is “scheduling an appointment.”
  2. The photo shows she’s available to work with you on YOUR time.
  3. The pages are consistent with images of her working and give a sense of space.

We realize getting these words and visuals right isn’t easy. If you’re getting hung up by all the time and money this suggest we have two shortcuts for you.

  1. Therapists who work with iTherapy get a profile on our website. If anyone comes to our website looking for a Therapist you’ll show up. If you just need to get your web presence started now, we’re here for you. We’re even happy to help you set it up!
  2. iTherapy has partnered with Shire Digital Solutions to create websites for you complete with graphics and logos that eliminate distraction and guide your viewers to taking specific action to complete the story they have found.

Speaking of story…

When Lucy finally landed on your page she saw a photo of two women talking over cups of coffee and read the words:

You’ve lived from your past for long enough.
Get help clarifying what you want your life to look like
and start taking the steps to get there.

appointment website
Lucy thought, “Yes, I’m tired of my past guiding my life. I want to take the next step to a new life.” Before she finished her pumpkin spice latte she scheduled an appointment with you for next Monday.

Three secrets to fill your Online Therapy schedule in less than twelve months

“I was told that you couldn’t make real money if you had your own practice. Well, all I can say is, ‘I wish I had started my practice sooner.’ I’m earning the money I need, doing what I love, and running my own schedule, all because I started my own practice.”

As Carol and I talked I realized that while she took risks to build her own practice her risks were calculated. Her intentional decisions allowed her to start well and less than a year after opening her practice was already compiling a client waitlist.

If there was ever an epic start to a thriving online therapy practice it’s Carol’s. The best part is, she let me in on her secrets and I’m here to share them with you…

COACHES

Tell me if this sounds familiar: How will I find clients? How am I gonna be compliant? How do I deal with insurance? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, right?! Coaches give you a safe place to ask these questions AND find the answers. Not only is a coach someone who knows the way but they will also provide you with accountability and encouragement.

Carol had one coach who helped her navigate starting an online practice and another coach who helped her navigate the business/personal side of things. Now she works with iTherapy to handle payments, schedule compliant video sessions, and file client information.

CAREFUL SPENDING

Starting any practice means you have to face financial questions. Instead of getting paralyzed by the financial weight of starting a practice take a moment to answer these questions:

How much money do I NEED to live on?
How much money would I LIKE to make?
How much money do I WANT to save?

When you are able to break down the amounts into monthly and weekly figures you will be able to calculate how many clients you need in order to have a sustainable practice.

Carol was careful to point out that she didn’t pay for every single feature to get her practice off the ground. She spent what she had on exactly what she needed. As her practice grew she was able to add features to her business that made her practice more simple and streamlined.

CONNECT WITH LOCAL THERAPISTS

When Carol first mentioned this I was like, “Wait. What?! You’re starting an online practice, but you’re networking with local therapists.”

“Yes,” she said.

She explained that she was meeting with them for two reasons:

To ask about insurances they accepted and typically worked with.
To build a referral list.

Before she knew it she was getting referrals from the therapists she had met with. Now she is referring clients to them. Talk about a win-win!

Needless to say, starting your own practice is risky, but being intentional about the risks you take can lead to a thriving practice. Get yourself a coach or two where you can dump all your questions and create strategies to overcome your fears. Get clear on your financial goals and don’t spend more than you have. Get connected with local therapists and ask if you can add them to your referral list.

Before you go, I want to be the one who tells you, “You can totally earn money as a private therapist. And you are capable of starting your very own practice!”.

Let us know which tip you’re gonna do first, in the comments.

Also, later this month we will be talking about making sure your website content is on point so stick around!

Ten ways to double views on your Facebook posts

Have you ever used a ladle to flip pancakes?  Probably not. But if you had you would have realized that flipping pancakes with a ladle didn’t work so good.

In actuality you probably used the ladle to pour the pancake batter onto your pan and then flipped the pancakes with a spatula, right?!

Yeah, that’s how I make pancakes, too.

My point is, sometimes it’s not the tool we’re using that’s wrong, but the way we’re using the tool.  I think this is exactly what most of us do with Facebook.

Facebook is a powerful tool to connect with ideal clients and give your business visibility, but all too often we use the tool wrong.  And guess what?! We get “crickets.” And “crickets” are what make us want to throw in the towel on Facebook.

Facebook posts

Without further ado, here are 10 ways to use Facebook right and avoid the “crickets:

  1. Add photos.  Post with photos get 39% more interaction.  The two most popular photos are photos of yourself or epic eye-catching photos.  Check out pexel.com for free stock photos (because we want to be compliant with the photos we use AND in our business, right?!).
  2. Timing posts.  Posting when more people are on Facebook, means your post will show up higher in your audience’s feed. High times on Facebook are lunch hour and between 5 and 8 pm (if you’re audience is largely stay-at-home moms you’re gonna want to go for right-after-the-kids-leave-for-school).  I typically post between 6pm and 7pm; I find that 9pm is a good time for Instagram.
  3. Call to action.  All too often your posts disappear into cyberspace, not because they go unseen, but because no one knows what to do with your content.  So, tell your audience what you want them to do with your post. If you’re wracking your brain to come up with calls to action check out this post!
  4. Respond to comments.  Facebook ranks posts based on the amount of engagement they see on each post.  And they rank posts with comments even higher than posts with a lot of likes. Guess what?!  Your comments count too! Not only that, responding to each comment let’s your audience know that you’re there for them and you’re not just trying to be seen.
  5. Time your comments (this is not only my BEST KEPT SECRET, but my MOST REWARDING SECRET when it comes to Facebook marketing).  Respond to comments in intervals: 1-2 hours after posting, the following morning around 10am, and the rest of the comments between 6 and 8 the following evening.  Why?! Because, every time there is a comment Facebook puts your post higher in the feed. Facebook prioritizes your post with each comment! Getting the most life from your carefully crafted Facebook post can be as simple as timing when you respond to comments.
  6. Get social.  There’s a reason social media is called social media, but all too often businesses use social media as all-about-me media.  No one likes to talk to someone who only talks about themselves (unless of course you’re getting paid for it, like yourselves, *cough* therapists).  Before or after you share a post take five minutes to leave likes and comments on others’ posts. I do this by going to my last few posts, clicking on the people who engaged with my content and interacting with their content.  That way, I’m not only interacting with my audience, but building loyal followers. Also, don’t be afraid to hop into someone’s DM. If you see they asked a question or are thinking about something you’re an expert on message them and offer them a free ebook, 30 minute consultation, or just an opportunity to explore the topic more with you.
  7. Where to share your links.  Share your link as a comment to your post, not in the post itself.  Seriously?! Yes, seriously. Here’s why: First of all, your link will count as a comment – score!  Secondly, Facebook will be less likely to slow down your post. Facebook wants their audience to stay on facebook as long as possible, not get side-tracked to a different website by your link. Make sense? So, make your post a catchy sentence related to the value in your link or a quote from said link and drop a quick sentence about how the link to such-and-such is in the comments.
  8. Short posts (3-5 sentences).  Think about the posts you typically read.  Are they a few sentences or a few paragraphs?!  They’re probably only one sentence unless your best friend wrote it, right?!  So, a good rule of thumb to writing highly-read posts is: whatever can be read ABOVE the “read more” button, which is about 3-5 sentences WITHOUT “enters”.  When you go to write a short post, don’t make short be your goal.  Write your complete thought – it can be three paragraphs if you want.  Then, go through and highlight the epic sentences. Now ask yourself, “How can this post make sense with just the highlighted sentences?”.  After adding some transition words, a photo, and a call to action you should have 3-5 sentences!
  9. Mix it up.  Give some value.  Leave a gif that makes people laugh.  Share a video or blog post that inspired you.  Ask your audience to leave a photo in the comments of what they did this past weekend.  Share a client testimonial.
  10. Analytics.  I’m not exactly a numbers person, and chances are, since you’re a therapist, you aren’t either. But I’m gonna ask you to read this whole paragraph, because what I’m about to tell you is basically gold dust for the internet.  Knowing what is performing best on your page means you can create more of the best performing content.  Whenever you create new content, first click on your analytics and scroll through your feed with the single goal being: noticing of what your audience is engaging with most. Now you can do two things: a) create three posts that are similar to your best performing posts; b) re-share your best performing posts about 30 days later. Have you ever re-read a book or movie, just because you loved it?!  That’s what reposting a well-liked post is like to your Facebook audience.

Now that I just gave you 10 spatulas, figuratively speaking, for Facebook here’s what I’m gonna challenge you to do: pick 2 or 3 that you use.  I just don’t want to see you try to use all these tips and get burned out (can you imagine trying to flip pancakes with ten different spatulas?!  Some of the pancakes would get burnt as you tried to keep up). All of these tips will improve your facebook views, but if you do them all for a week and then fade out, you won’t see the results you were hoping for.

So, choose 2 or 3 and let us know which ones you chose in the comments!

How adding a “call to action” can increase your Facebook engagement and get you seen by more ideal clients.

 

If I could give you ONE tip that would help you increase engagement on Facebook, get your audience in the habit of clicking your links, AND open the door for you to invite ideal clients to work with you, would you stop everything you’re doing and give me a three minutes of your time?!

Okay, good.  Because that’s exactly what I’m going to give you. 

Have you closed your Facebook app, yet?  Because, here it is…

Add a call to action to all your posts.

As a counselor, life coach, or therapist you’re an influencer.  Especially if you choose to show up on social media.  You’re sharing a tip or trick to help your ideal client live from a place of freedom and confidence.

But all too often those posts disappear into cyberspace, don’t they?

Probably all because your audience didn’t know what to do with your post.

Should they like it? 

Leave a comment? 

Hold up, comment what? 

 

 

 

So next time you share that carefully crafted post of yours ask yourself, “What action do I want my audience to take?  Do I want them to “like” this photo, leave a comment, tell me how they’re gonna change, leave an emoji, grab my free ebook, ask me a question in my DMs?”.

Online Counseling, Start Your Private Practice with iTherapy

Here’s five call to actions you’re welcome to steal:

  • If you agree, give me a “thumbs up.”
  • Tag a bestie.
  • If you loved this, let me see you in the comments!
  • Wanting more on this thought?!  I created a whole ebook on this that you can get for FREE at the link in the comments…
  • If you’re with me on this leave “I choose joy” in the comments.

Okay, now you’re probably thinking, “Adding a call to action on each of my posts will make me feel WAY too sales-y.  I’ll just add a call to action on one or two posts a week.”.

I have three thoughts for you:

  1. Social Media is super fast paced.  Facebook posts have been known to reach between 16% and 2% of your audience, so it’s safe to say you won’t be spamming your audience with “call to action”s.
  2. You’re posting to help people make changes.  Great ideas don’t create change.  Acting on great ideas creates change. If your audience does not interact with your content they are less likely to experience change from your great idea. 
  3. Humans are creatures of habit.  At the end of the day, we buy from people we trust.  Every call to action is an opportunity to build not only engagement but also trust with your audience.  Before long they will be used to you asking them to take action on your posts, so when you have a offer you want them to click on, they’re much more likely to click.

I know I said the ONLY thing you needed to do was add a call to action to each of your posts, but I’m gonna add one thing: respond to all the comments.

 

See, Facebook algorithms prioritize posts with comments because it means users are spending more time on that post, so other people will want to see it.  Every comment you respond to, is another comment facebook sees.  Every comment you respond to, is another potential client that you make feel seen and heard.  Every comment you respond to, is one step closer to inviting someone to work with you and experience more freedom and confidence in their life.

In the end, adding a “call to action” increases engagement, increases your “click” rate, and increases your opportunity to offer your services, but my favorite part of a call to action is the possibility it has to help someone create change in their life. 

Okay, you can go back to your Facebook app now, especially if you make a post with a call to action, and tag us in the comments!

What’s your favorite call to action?  Let us know in the comments!