Do you tick all the boxes on your counselling profile? On Psychology Today they are called “issues”, and Counselling Directory asks clients to say “what is worrying you”.
As a counsellor you know that the client’s presenting problem is just the start. With your therapeutic tools to hand, you know you’re qualified to help clients. So you reason that whatever it is that clients search for, you will be able to help them.
So by ticking all the boxes you think you are ensuring that you don’t miss out on any clients.
However, have you ever considered that by ticking all the boxes you may be deterring clients, not attracting them?
How ticking boxes may deter clients
Consider these scenarios:
- You’ve broken your wrist. Do you ask your GP to bandage it up for you, or do you go to hospital and have it set by the orthopaedic surgeon?
- Would your builder use a bricklayer or a chippy to get a wall built?
- Usain Bolt or Mo Farah for the 100m?
I think you get the idea. People choose experts.
Why should counselling clients be any different?
So if you are ticking all the boxes in your counselling profile, could that mean that clients assume you’re a generalist, not a specialist?
“But I’m trained to help people whatever their problems” I hear you say.
Let me relate the story of a counsellor I mentor who specialises in couples counselling. She is currently receiving five enquiries a week for her services.
And clients tell her they choose her because she only ticks the relevant boxes for couples counselling.
They can see that she is a specialist in relationships and that is what they want.
They don’t want someone who occasionally counsels couples. They want someone who is really experienced. Someone they feel safe with.
And people tend to trust the experts.
Because she is willing to focus on one type of counselling she is running a very successful business.
What type of counselling do you really like doing? Who do you like working with?
I can imagine for some of you the answer is:
“I don’t know who I like working with and quite frankly, I don’t mind who I see. I just want some clients!”
But if you don’t know the sort of work you do, how will your clients know that you will suit them?
Imagine you’re a client. You’re looking for specific help but when you narrow your search by a specific box, everyone comes up.
On further examination, you see there are some counsellors who have ticked all the boxes but there are one or two who have only ticked the one or two you are interested in.
Which counsellor would you choose?
Ticking the Right Boxes
As counsellors we are often so frightened about claiming a niche because we’re worried that we’re going to miss out on clients. However, it may well be that we’re missing out because we’re not niching.
You may have heard this marketing phrase before but it definitely bears repeating:
When you speak to everyone, you speak to no-one (Meredith Hill)
Part of the problem is we imagine that there are not enough people looking for counselling in an area where we could specialise. But think about it:
- How many people are bereaved? (uh … everyone)
- How full is your local cancer or chronic illness clinic?
- How long do transgender people have to wait before they receive a referral to a NHS clinic? (years)
- How many people in your circle of acquaintances do you know who are divorced?
Are there really not enough possibilities for counselling within those niches?
Add into that the fact you are now in a position to offer online therapy. You are no longer confined to people in your local area. You can reach people all over the internet. There are definitely enough clients in your niche!
the virtuous circle of a counselling niche
When you are working well with people because you have experience and aptitude with that problem:
- You feel energised and inspired by the work, you grow in confidence, focus on that area and become even better at working with it
- Your client is able to change their lives and therapy really makes a difference
- Your client becomes a great source of referrals for you
Whereas when you’re working with someone who doesn’t fit well with you, the following can happen:
- You feel deskilled and not good enough
- Your client leaves therapy thinking it doesn’t really work. And they may be right, it may not have worked for them
- Your client will not recommend you and you’ll be left clutching for whatever client happens your way
Isn’t it time to decide who you work well with and have the courage to tell them?
Know your niche
My tagline is
Find your purpose, your voice and your clients
When you work out who it is you work well with, you’ve found your purpose. You’re able to speak to them because you really get it. And because you really get it, and you’re able to talk about it, you find your clients.
My niche is helping counsellors to get clients. I’m really able to help you know who it is you work well with and to have the confidence to communicate with them.
I offer counsellors one to one business mentoring or low cost group coaching to help them find their purpose, their voice and their clients.
Contact me to find out more.