I wish I could be paid a pound for every post there is in my Good Enough Counsellors Facebook group that asks people what’s the best directory to use. Because that question comes up pretty regularly, and I’d be able to earn an income from it. But how do you get clients through the directories? And it’s not a case that one’s better than the other. What it’s actually about is being able to communicate why people should choose you, what makes you stand out from the crowd.

And this is what this particular episode is all about. This episode was inspired by a conversation I had yesterday with a friend of mine, a business colleague. She lives and works in London. She’s a very educated person. She’s also someone who’s been looking for therapy, and we were discussing whether or not it was helpful for therapists to have a niche.

And her reaction was, I have found it so hard to find a therapist. She said, although there are so many therapists available, it is really, really difficult for her to choose anybody because what makes any one of them stand out to her, she’s faced with a huge number of therapists to choose from. The choice is overwhelming. There’s nothing that makes them stand out to her, And so consequently, she actually has given up on looking for therapy and her words were, it’s impossible to find a therapist. Now for me, who works all the time with therapists who are looking for clients, That is such a disappointing thing to hear because I know that you as therapists are really eager to find clients.

And I know that there’s clients just like her who are out there looking for therapists, and they’re just not getting matched up. And so one of my missions is to try and help this matching to happen. In the past, I’ve heard clients say choosing a therapist from an online directory is a bit like Tinder, in that you’re sort of swiping right or left depending on whether or not you like the look of them. And I I think that’s, in a sense, quite true because often, all you have to go on when you’re looking at these directories are people’s faces for reasons that I’ll explain in a moment. But, you know, it makes me think that perhaps my mission in life is a bit like being a dating agency.

See, I’m trying to help therapists match with clients, and I’m trying to help clients match with therapists. And this is the reason why I’m doing today’s episode because I’d really like to talk about this concept of niching, which I know is anathema for many people. But bear with me, and we’ll talk a little bit more about why I think it’s important. So going back to why do people choose therapists on the basis of what they look like? And that’s because on a directory, you only have a very small amount of space to say anything, and we tend to say the same things.

So we might say, hi. I’m so and so, and I work in an integrative way. Or, hi. Are you finding it difficult to find a therapist? I know how difficult this can be.

Or, hi. I provide a safe and nonjudgmental space for you to speak. And please don’t feel bad if that’s the way you’ve actually started one of your profiles because it is actually really difficult to know what to write. But if you’re a client and you are coming onto a directory and you are just seeing page after page after page of people saying those sorts of words, you can understand actually why it’s really difficult to choose anybody, and why sometimes you might even be reduced to just choosing someone because you like the look of their face. And I did a little question on my Facebook business page recently, and I said to therapists, what made you choose your therapist?

And you know what they said? Oh, well, I chose them because I like the look of them. Surely, surely, surely, there must be a better way to find a therapist than judging them on what they look like. And please don’t get me wrong. The profile pictures are a really important part of our directory or of our website.

People do want to connect with you. They want to know what you look like. They want to feel as though they can speak to you. So having a really good profile picture is an excellent thing to have on your website or on your directory, but I’d really love it if people would choose you for other reasons as well. So it is really important for us to consider how people choose us and to try and ensure that our clients choose the right therapist for them.

And that actually does mean you have to stick your neck out a little bit. So one of the things that clients might do, thinking about research, is they might go online, and they might start looking for articles on how do I find a therapist. And so one of the articles that I found while I was doing my research was an article by The Guardian that was written about a year into the pandemic. And The Guardian was saying that, you know, so many more people having therapy nowadays, how could you find a good therapist? And they quoted the research that so many of us already know that actually it’s the relationship that really makes the difference.

And so the guardian’s advice was, it’s more important to consider issues such as gender, age, sexuality, race, and cultural background, than it is to actually think about the therapist’s style of working. So bearing in mind that people might be looking for help on how to choose a therapist and come across the article, you can see that perhaps there’s things that we haven’t considered disclosing that we might actually want to be disclosing in order to help our clients choose us. So that moves me on now to this subject of niching. And so many therapists have a real problem with niching, and it can really make you feel very uncertain. But I’m gonna talk today about the benefits of having a niche and why it can really help clients.

So if you think about a client who is looking for a therapist, they’re probably not going to be thinking hugely. They may well be. I don’t want to rule it out, but they’re going to be actually, not perhaps being incredibly rational. They might be feeling quite emotional. They’ll probably be feeling quite vulnerable because it takes a lot of courage to actually reach out to a therapist.

They may be dealing with something that’s really upsetting them. And so when they’re looking for a therapist, they may not be incredibly systematic about it. They may be looking for someone, sort of, quite quickly, and they may be in quite an emotional state when they’re actually looking for a therapist. So I just want you to remember that about the emotions that your potential client might be going through when they’re actually looking. So what are they gonna be doing when they’re looking?

Obviously, they’re going to be checking out whether they can afford you. And less importantly now, but might still be important, is that they’re going to be looking at the location as well. Obviously, with working online, that might not be such an important factor now. But they’re gonna be feeling quite vulnerable, and they’re gonna be looking for help with things like relationships and anxiety and bereavement. So things that are quite upsetting.

Now when you’re upset, quite often, if you’re in that reactive situation, you might be quite anxious about making the right decision. You want something that communicates with you really clearly. You want something that stands out to you, And this is where a niche can be really, really helpful, because what having a niche does is it gives you and the client an incredible amount of clarity about what it is that you’re offering, the sort of people you are looking for. And when a client comes across that and they fit into your niche, they will recognise that you are the right person for them. And they’ll recognise it because you’ll be using the situations that they’re finding themselves in.

You’ll be talking about those specific situations. You’ll be talking about the types of feelings that come up for people in that situation, and they’ll be able to recognize themselves when you say that to them. That is really, really gonna help, and this is something that I spend a lot of my time helping therapists with, is shaping what to say for their niche, and actually, indeed, working out what their niche is. You know, one of the things that people really worry about with niching is that they’re going to cut people out. So if they become too specialist in a niche, then that means they’re gonna miss out on a lot of people.

But actually, what they’re missing out on are all these people who are trawling through and feeling confused. And what they’re really doing is they’re gathering people to them, who are light on their profile and just think, thank goodness. Here’s somebody who deals with the problem that I’ve got. And so what a niche does is it actually helps you to stand out to those people who really need you. And believe me, I spend a lot of time looking at the counselling direct and psychology today and the BACP website.

And it is so hard to find somebody who is willing to say, this is what I work with. And an example I’ve got of this is when I looked at the BACP directory for Brighton. Now bear in mind what I said about that Guardian article. The Guardian article says, it’s important to consider issues such as gender, age, sexuality. Let’s just stop there.

Let’s just stop with sexuality. Okay. Let’s think about Brighton, well known as being almost sort of like a really lovely place for people of the LGBTQ plus community to live. Who’s gonna be looking for therapy? If it’s got a very large LGBT community, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be LGBTQ who are looking for therapy.

I went through that BACP directory listings for therapists in Brighton, and I could not find one person who was willing to say on that initial page. You know the sort 3 or 4 short sentences about me and my therapy practice, there was no one. I mean, literally no one. And I did go through 7 or 8 pages of profiles, and I couldn’t find anyone who said on their initial profile, I work with LGBTQ people. And I was advising someone at the time, actually, who is an LGBTQ therapist in Brighton.

I said, please put that down because they will beat your door down if you say that. I mean, sometimes, yeah, you can tell from the profile picture who might be LGBTQ. But please, please, please, folks, please tell people. If that’s the area that you work with, tell them. If you work with bereavement, tell people.

Don’t just tick the box. Someone else I was talking to recently, she said, every blooming fat therapist ticks the box for bereavement. How can I stand out as a therapist if I’m talking about bereavement? And I said, it actually isn’t that difficult. You just talk about the main feelings that people have around bereavement.

In that 3 sentence paragraph on the very front page, The search paragraph, counselling directory, me and my therapy practice for BACP. The first 2 or 3 sentences for psychology today, talk about it there. I beg you. Because you will find people. Believe me, if you’re prepared to stick your neck out and actually say the area that you work in, you will bring people, and you’ll bring people who have got that particular problem and are looking for someone just like you.

Believe me, I can’t I can’t emphasise it enough. And I’ve worked with people who have been incredibly niched, and they’re the people who I can honestly say are the most successful in having a full private practice. So, you know, please, please, please think about your niching. It’s so important. It’s almost marketing 101 is to choose a niche.

If you’re frightened about it, listen to more episodes where I’ll talk more about the power of niching, and what some of the objections to it are, because it’s so, so important, and it will really help you find clients. Let’s get clients and therapists matched up using niching. So as you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about niching, and I have seen some real success stories amongst people who’ve worked with me, who’ve actually really committed to having a niche. And they’ve been really scared about it, and they’ve been convinced that it’s not going to work, but it’s amazing the difference it can make to people. It can really help to bring you more clients.

So if you’re interested in trying to find your niche, what I suggest you do is to contact me to have a look at my web page, josephinehughs.com forward slash work with me. There’s lots of different ways that you can work with me to help you find your niche. Thanks for listening. Do come and join my Facebook community, Good Enough Counsellors, And for more information about how I can help you 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.