Josephine Hughes (she/her) (00:01.038)

I wonder how you found my Good Enough Counsellors podcast. I’m guessing here, but I think it may well be because you already knew me through my Good Enough Counsellors Facebook group, or perhaps someone who’s in the group recommended me. When I started it back in 2018, I thought, I’ll just give it a go. 12 ,000 members later, and having grown a successful coaching business, you can see why I’m a big believer in the power of social media to help you grow your practice.

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (00:37.806)

Welcome to the Social Media Toolkit with a focus on how you can use your social media to reach out to clients in July. Each month, I discuss an aspect of social media marketing and then round up the show with some suggestions for your posts. Today, we’re going to look at how social media can support you in gaining more clients and act as a complement to your other marketing efforts. Who knows?

In time, you may be in a position to ditch paying for directories like Counselling Directory or Psychology Today because you get all your clients via your business pages. In case you think that’s unlikely, I do know therapists who don’t have to pay for any advertising because they rely solely on their social media to attract new clients. I’ll be interviewing some of them in the coming months. 

And if you’d like some inspiration, listen to how Josh Fletcher and Fi Hewkin have made social media work for them in episodes 15 and episode 11 respectively. 

So why does social media work for getting clients? I think here it’s helpful to consider one of the models for change that you’re probably familiar with from your training. This suggests that people move between stages. They start with pre -contemplation.

This could also be called denial, where they don’t recognise their behaviour is problematic. What normally happens is that the behaviour will cause an outcome that causes them to begin to contemplate behaviour change. That contemplation may then lead them to a preparation stage, followed by taking action. Now, I think a lot of therapists are missing a trick when they rely solely on directories for new clients. 

The people that directories attract are those clients who have definitely decided to take action and are actively searching out a counsellor. You may ask at this point, well, what’s wrong with that? Surely those are the people that I want to attract. The first answer that is glaringly obvious is at that point, you’re competing with a whole number of other therapists.

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (03:02.126)

And a lot of directory profiles are very similar, making it difficult for a potential client to pick anyone out. At this point, I’m going to interject to say that at the end of June 2024, I’ll be running my successful Make Your Profile Work Challenge in my coaching group, Therapy Growth Group. So if you’d like to make your directory profile stand out, join the group this month to be able to take part.

There’s a limited number of spaces available. If you’re interested, click on the link in the show notes for this episode. Coming back to the change model, the advantage of a social media presence is that you’re going to be able to connect with clients before they’ve even thought about looking on a directory for help. You may be able to reach them when they’re in that contemplation stage. And this can really help them. I’ll explain why.

As therapists, we tend to assume that people will know that counselling is an option for them. But the more I speak to non-counsellors, the more I realise that people try a lot of other options before they even consider therapy. Let’s think of a few examples. 

Consider someone who binge eats. They may try a variety of diets run by the big companies. They may turn to someone who specialises in nutrition or they might employ a personal trainer. They could try complementary therapies such as acupuncture or Reiki. 

Or let’s think about someone who’s adapting to a life change. This change may have highlighted a gap in their lives and they’re desperately trying to fill it with more activities or relationships. They know they’re unhappy, but they’re not tackling the real root cause. And that means it’s likely that a problem will reappear again in a different form the next time they experience a change. 

It’s not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with exploring different avenues. But where does counselling figure in this? Is it something they include in their list of options? Are they aware that therapy could make a lifelong difference to them? And in passing, I’ll say that this is why I do the work of helping therapists with their marketing. I know good counselling changed my life forever

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (05:26.606)

and I’d love more people to access it. In the contemplation stage, wouldn’t it be wonderful if potential clients came across someone who could help them understand that their experience of life could be radically different? Someone who perhaps gets them to start thinking about seeing a therapist. 

Now, the advantage of being that person is, who are they going to turn to when they decide to see a therapist? It’s very likely that if they’ve connected with you because of what you’ve already told them, they’re going to want to see you. And they’re not going to go looking elsewhere. Why is that? It’s because you’ve already built a relationship with them. It might not actually have involved any direct conversations, but they’ve been reading your posts or watching your videos.

They’ve got to know you as someone who is consistent, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Your social media presence enables you to showcase your personality, your values and your approach to therapy. And it makes you much less of a stranger than one of the many therapists who are listed in a directory. In the words of Ghostbusters, who are you going to call?

Let’s move on now to think about how you could reach out to clients via social media in the month of July. I’m going to use upcoming events and awareness days, but there’s so many I have to be quite selective for the purpose of the podcast. Do remember that one of the benefits of joining Therapy Growth Group is guidance on topics for every day of the month. 

One of the ways that you can use social media is to share content related to mental health and wellbeing.

This helps to establish you as someone with what is called authority. By sharing information, you show that you have the knowledge and training that means that you can help. And it also helps people in that contemplation stage to realise that therapy may be an option for them. So here’s some topics you could cover. July is a big month in the sporting calendar.

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (07:43.47)

I’ve just realised there is a month of Euro football to contend with starting in mid -June. This means if you follow me on social media, you’ll see me being really productive with my own content because once it gets started, football will be on the TV in my house every single match. And I’m going to be trying to avoid it. Now, that’s the subject for a post in itself.

The Euros and Wimbledon overlap and they both end on the 14th. And then we’ve got the Paris Olympics from the 26th. Sport’s going to be talked about a lot in July. And you can use this to your advantage. Use the event hashtags in your posts and then add your own therapist twist to it. This could be, for example, about the mental health challenges that athletes face and how to manage stress, both for them and for their fans.

Sadly, there’s an angle you could also take and that is talking about how domestic violence can increase during sports tournaments. And while I don’t want to be a gal, you could also seize some moments of drama. I attended a talk recently by an ex pole vaulter who’d experienced a serious injury that ended his career. As a result, he suffered depression for a couple of years.

And although he found a new way forward, I think his story illustrates how an injury impacts mental health. If you see someone carried off the field in a stretcher, particularly if it’s an England footballer and you live in England, you could add to the commentary to talk about how recovery is not just about physical rehabilitation, but also in the mind. You could then follow this up to talk about how unwanted change impacts you. both personally and in relationships. 

Who knows, you might reach someone who has an aha moment because they read it and the penny drops. They suddenly realise why they’re feeling as they do. What I think the interesting thing is to note here is how you can combine what is a general topic of conversation, sporting fixtures, with information about mental health. You’ll be adding a perspective that people perhaps haven’t thought about and may find interesting.

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (10:06.126)

If they start commenting on your posts, they will be seen by more people and this helps to increase your overall reach. 

I’m going to move on now to talk about some more counsellor type days and events during the month. The start of July is Alcohol Awareness Week, which could fit in with a football if you have a focus on domestic violence. It’s also Bereaved Parents Month and Pets Remembrance Day on the 5th.

These are quite sobering subjects. Whoops, that’s an unintentional pun there. Sorry about that. And it can be hard to know how to talk about them on social media in a way that engages your followers. 

I’d like to give you a short trigger warning now. I’m about to speak about death by suicide. So if that will upset you, please skip the next 30 seconds. 

I’ve lost count of how many worthy posts I have seen about suicide and scrolled on by.

However, on the subject of suicide, the one post that stands out vividly to me was about an exhibition in 2022 that showed 50 photographs of happy, smiling people. These were all people who died by suicide and it was very poignant and moving. The reason why it was so memorable was because seeing actual people, while difficult, made the topic very real.

There’s no doubt that telling stories helps people to empathise and connect at a deep level and that stops your posts from seeming dry and dull. So if you’re thinking about posts on bereavement or alcohol awareness, you may like to keep your eye on the media and also charities who are campaigning on this issue. They may well share some real life experiences and you can use these in your own posts.

One way of helping people to connect with you as a real person is if you share your own reactions and how the post impacts you and why that is. The why can be the part where you provide some psychoeducation. As well as providing information and showing people what a thoroughly lovely and trustworthy person you are, because I know you are, it’s also important to remember to tell people that you’re in business and open for new clients.

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (12:31.982)

Otherwise, what’s the point of spending all this time crafting great posts? However, sales posts can be the ones we find the most difficult to share. It’s so much easier to be helpful with our content than it is to ask people to actually employ us. It might feel like we’re asking them for a favour, but I’d like you to remember how will people get help if we’re too shy to tell them about what we do?

And while you may think it’s obvious what you do, it may not be to people who know nothing about counselling and know nothing about private practice. For this reason, intersperse your helpful posts with information about how people can work with you, what counselling is, how it works, and what people can expect to get from counselling. And coming up in July, there’s some great opportunities to talk about counselling.

They’re not necessarily well -known days, but that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to name the actual day. You can just use them to remind you to post about your service. So here’s a list. There’s Start the Conversation on the 3rd of July, New Conversation day on the 12th, World Listening day on the 18th, and Samaritan’s Awareness Day on 24 -7. 

Remember, the whole point of why you’re posting on social media is ultimately…

It’s all about raising awareness of you, your service and counselling in general so that people can change their lives. People will be so glad they’ve found you. Thanks to you, they’ll be able to resolve problems that they’ve been struggling with for years. When I had counselling, it transformed my family life and it most definitely had a positive impact on the relationship with my teenagers.

Can you imagine you’ll be able to reach people and stop that intergenerational trauma in its tracks? To me, that’s such a compelling reason to try and reach people via social media and why I’m so passionate to support you in doing so. 

Thanks for listening. Do come and join my Facebook community, Good Enough Counsellors, and for more information about how I can help you,

Josephine Hughes (she/her) (14:57.582)

develop your private practice, please visit my website, josephinehughes .com. If you found this episode helpful, I’d love it if you could share it with a fellow therapist or leave a review on your podcast app. And in closing, I’d love to remind you that every single step you make gets you closer to your dream. I really believe you can do it.