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How to Contain Your Therapy Passion

After talking yesterday about Rock Star Therapy Bloggers vs Regular Therapy bloggers I want to address a really common problem for therapists.  Don’t laugh because it’s very real:

Too Much Passion.

This may be too much passion for “healing”, too much passion for theory talk, too much passion for research, for emotion talk….

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes of therapists, which include being sappy, drippy, overly-emotive, all about feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings, anti-male, and it’s all about feeling goooooood.  I’ll address the anti-male marketing message in a separate post.

The dangers of too much passion in MARKETING your therapy practice, in my opinion, include:

  • everything you write and say becomes about you, not the client
  • you talk at a 5,000 foot level when prospective clients are in the dirt with the problem
  • you can lose sight of what people really want because you’re so focused on what you want to do or say
  • being blinded to any feedback from friends,  business coaches, or clients regarding what you’re doing or how you’re doing it
  • missing a huge window right “next” to your passion, where potentially a lot more people are wanting or needing your services

Let me give a few examples to illustrate.

If your website has a lot of “I” talk with passion-filled emotion, do some checks and balances to see if you are really speaking to the client or writing a personal diary.  Why on the world should someone care that you love a particular topic?  They don’t unless most of the words are directed to their pain or pressures.  Your passion should simply be what solidifies that not only do they feel heard and empathized with, but they feel excited that you’ll be thrilled to work with them because you have a lot of experience or training in their issue.

A common one in my world at the 5,000 foot level would be something like:

Marriage is hard work!  It requires a lot of effort, so if you focused at least half your energy on the marriage as you are on the wedding…”  I despise this!!  Stop it people!  Right now those people are in the throws of wedding planning drama.  They are putting on the biggest event of their lives, at a time when they’ve just gone from island-happy selfish boyfriend/girlfriend land, to creating inlaws and becoming a branch on a family tree.  And I am crazy intentional, have a great relationship with my husband, and in premarital counseling at the 5,000 foot level we didn’t have a lot of issues.  We weren’t living together, we’d never had a family holiday together, we couldn’t even budget since we didn’t have a home to budget for yet.  But had we been asked about wedding planning… oi, YES, there was a lot going on.  It’s almost impossible to have a simple, easy wedding where every stakeholder is equally relaxed and pleased.

The grounded approach would be to talk to their real pressures so they understand where you’re coming from and that you can, in fact, help them.  “Are you in the throws of figuring out who is on the inside club of wedding invitations?  Are you mad for the first time at your future in-laws who you thought were rather pleasant until they insisted on inviting 70 family members you’ve never even heard of in 3 years of dating?”  THAT is on the ground!  I firmly believe that wedding planning IS marriage planning because it’s all about communication, teamwork, money, family of origin.  Why in the world would you talk generic when you have such rich fodder to delve into what’s actually going on?  (A plug: If you want a free copy of Take Back Your Wedding, email me at elizabeththomas [at] thefirstdance <dot> com and I’ll send you the e-book!  I’m in the process of creating a website just for the book, but we have revenue sharing on the e-book for your couples.)

On to what people really want vs what you want.
Most therapists are rather obsessed with making their hourly rate in the work they do.  Make sense but it can be really destructive.  I know very creative therapist wanting to offer awesome services but to get her hourly rate, nobody will sign up.   One therapist is offering a really cool communication aid by email about a particular niche (I don’t want to give it away as she’s still trying to market but hasn’t hired a business coach so it’s slow going.)  She needs to risk not making an hourly rate to instead think about membership models or ways she can make the service appear affordable and useful rather than what is now – email her and you’ll pay $50+ for a response.   I gave her about 15 minutes of fabulous information but this marketing and business model stuff is very overwhelming stuff to learn fast and requires a HUGE time output, without pay, to get this sort of thing off the ground.  There is no way greed works when it comes to marketing effort.  You are paid in passion dollars at first.  🙂

Another great therapist wanted to offer a workshop at a really high rate.  When I learn it’s for engaged couples, I had to tell her it’s insane.  Turns out she was putting in all the time she’s spent working on the workshop into the final cost per couple.  Nope – not the way it works.  It’s all about what the market will pay, not what your hourly rate is.  To her credit she heard the message and has gone back to the drawing board on what she wants, how much she’ll charge, etc.

The final example I’ll give comes from my work with search engine optimization as well as my understanding of the stigma of therapy.  

Think about your client and look what is “nearby” and figure out if that is a way to get in.  Examples: working with pregnant or post partem women, find doulas, lactation consultants, baby planners, baby furniture and clothing stores.  They are stigma-free concrete places women go and you can reach out.  Marriage counseling is a tough one, but married couples have lots of activities they do from remodeling, home decorating, date nights, travel, etc.  (Hint: this is part of my creative blog in the works and “grand ideas” locally.)  For my wedding relationship website, I have had to find what their pressures are (WEDDING STUFF) and talk to that in order to get them to land on a premarital counseling website.  When you talk to their real issues (who to invite, divorced parent drama, procrastinating bridesmaids, annoying siblings) they will not only find you, but may actually be interested in the “other stuff” you offer.  You know, the stuff you’re passionate about.

And a big hint: you don’t find clients on Twitter, but you find those people who WORK, PLAY, or ENTERTAIN your clients on Twitter.  I’m building authentic relationships with a huge variety of Minnesota Twitter folks because it’s fantastic fun but also really important in networking as a therapist to see what’s out there and figure out how to reach your audience.

I’m also nearly complete with a robust e-book on writing therapy directory profiles.  It’s really exciting to be able to share nuts and bolts information on such an important topic!  Too much passion and too much therapy speak, or major “messaging problems” are at the core of most therapy profile statements. If you’re interested, give me your email here and I’ll let you know when it’s done.


Why Write? Therapists are busy enough!

I’ve been sick, exhausted, travel weary lately.  I know I’m at the bottom of the barrel when things that normally excite me feel stressful, overwhelming, and impossible.  One of those tasks?  Blogging!  I’m a blog addict.  I love to write.  And yet fatigue kicked me down…down, down enough for me to truly empathize with all the therapists (my husband included) who have so many questions, issues, uncertainty about WHY to write (separate issues include WHAT to write or WHERE to write.)  Even this blog has taken me longer than normal.

Why Write?

Wisdom that leaves your head or private client conversations into the broader world may really help someone. Ideally that person becomes your client, but seriously, there is only one of you and what, 5 billion people now on the planet?  How cool to potentially have a real impact on another human being.

Search engines love content. And search engines bring you effortless attention, as compared to the attention you get from word of mouth, direct advertising, speaking, or purposefully trying to GET attention

Journalists love content.  The more you write the more you may be convincing a journalist to contact you for a story.

Clients need content to be convinced of therapy, and therapy with YOU. I would argue unlike other health care professionals where, even if the doctor isn’t great, you’re just in the room for 15 minutes and done, therapy is a deeply personal, ongoing relationship.  For you to convince someone of doing therapy with you requires writing more than just a “welcome to my website” and a short bio that discusses nothing but boring details about YOU.

The world is hungry for words. Media, when you think about it, is simply filling air or pages with content.  And a lot of media folks have a lot of space to fill, every day.  Many good therapists end up becoming therapy experts on magazines, websites, radio shows.  You’re way more likely to be contacted if you have shown these media folks that you have a lot to say.

Make new friends. I know, this sounds weird, right?  But yes, when you write and someone likes what you say, they may strike up a friendship and that may lead to personal or professional gain.  I have a growing list of amazing Twitter therapist friends and some of them I specifically “fell in like with” because of how they wrote.  And lots of cool professional things are coming of these friendships (mutual support, idea generation, swapping ideas, appearing on each others stuff, cross-marketing each other.)

Dare I say, it’s your professional obligation? Just stay with me for a minute.  You had a community and family raise you, tax dollars went to help fund your graduate program (if it was a public school, and even private schools get tax write offs for being non-profits.)  Your faculty worked hard to train and educate you.  And a licensing board approved you to help others.  There really ought to be a bigger professional standard than “do the minimal work to fill your client load.”  Writing is just ONE of many ways you can do more to help the world, especially when it’s free content to the public.

I recognize this blog post won’t likely get you unstuck, but perhaps you had a new “oh!” moment when considering the WHY behind writing.

For therapists reading this, why do you write?  Do you have a specific goal for yourself?  Any cool stories that have come from your writing?  Comment below!

Differentiation: Not just for your clients!

Whatever you call it: having a niche, a brand, a focus, there is something vital to differentiating yourself on the web.  In the olden days it was simple.   You’d call your insurance company, find the nearest therapist, and there you’d go for some fixing.  Maybe you’d ask your doctor, but now fewer and fewer doctors are bothering to recommend particular therapists to clients, clergy over overworked and are struggling to keep up with the demands of the job, let alone do intense pastoral care or find great therapists to refer to.

The world I’m entering as a therapist (in a few years) in a radically new landscape.  I literally am entering a profession where I will never take insurance.  In large part because it would be so many years before I”d even be eligible and at that point, why on earth would I sign up for intense headaches and letting someone else mandate my therapy fees, length of treatment, and who is eligible for therapy?  I was telling a small business owner this weekend, “imagine having to sell someone on your $120/hour services while they are also looking at someone who will only cost them a $20 copay?”  You know the only way someone is going to pay you more than $20?  YOU SELL them on how you are different!  If you’re a commodity, a walk-in clinic with a random staff person who can give some techniques on coping, you’ll never make $120/hour (or whatever your rate is.)

Right now there are many ways I differentiate among all the people discussing internet marketing.  Or at least I try to, or aspire to, or freak out about doing.  If I’m as good as the other million people talking at you about getting a website, blog, ranking high, using social media, then why listen to me and not them?  The same is true for therapists.  You aren’t the only person a client will find.  You aren’t the only one who can solve their problems.  So how do you differentiate yourself?  (I’ll share a few personal examples at the end of this blog.)

The core to differentiating yourself from other therapists, I believe is in being authentically yourself. By this I mean truly trusting what stirs your passion for therapy, whether the “what” is a certain type of client, a method of doing therapy, or simply an underlying moral or value behind what you do.  When you can return over and over to this core, as you get bumped around in this crazy world of marketing, it becomes a bit of a soothing pacifier.  I liken confidence to a ping pong game where it can jump from extreme self-confidence to feelings of total failure in a split second.  In those down moments it’s vital to remember there is literally nobody else exactly like you, with an identical background, identical passion and identical skills, goals, and interests.  Nevermind that same clone in your exact part of town!

The problem with authenticity? The deep, core struggle?  We know we can’t fix anyone, or anything, with a simple answer, product, or service.  So how do we sell ourselves?  How do we differentiate among our competitors who may be selling the quick, simple fix?  Or who appear more polished than us, or self-assured?  How do we not come across as overly-eager, overly passionate, or fake?

Authenticity involves being vulnerable, honest, and compassionate. I know marketing pretty much sucks for a lot of therapists.  I have made tons of mistakes and continue to make mistakes on a daily basis.  Those mistakes make me more vulnerable and compassionate.  They also give me new ideas on services, products, or ways to help my future clients (related to my own deeply personal life issues and struggles.)

For therapists, authenticity has two sides, a public side and a private side. Clients need to hire someone with some self-assurance, but they’ll resonate with the vulnerability you speak to, even if it isn’t your own.  You can do more self-disclosure in sessions where the self-disclosure helps the client move forward therapeutically.  To me vulnerability is a fantastic tool for therapists to sell themselves.  It’s not just that you’re expressing vulnerability, but HOW you express it that prospective clients will resonate with.  And that goes back to you having a core reason for doing this whole therapy thing in the first place.

Let’s take a topic so I can spin you through what I mean.

Let’s say your area of passion is trauma.  It’s a hot topic lately and there are many facets therapists can address.  So your passion is trauma, but why?  What’s the core underneath the issues of trauma that ignites you?  Is it the depression underneath trauma?  The anxiety issues that come out?  Is it in the removal of nightmares that frees people you love?  Maybe it’s the relational stuff – how trauma victims find a way to heal and be in right relation with those around them whom they may have stomped on with their trauma baggage.  Or your real interest may be in the challenges of moving past trauma and re-entering “normal life.”  It may even be a social justice component if you work with victims of domestic violence and your desire to empower victims.  Whatever the reason, your prospective clients will be fascinated to learn more about your perspective.

To get hired, especially at a good hourly rate, prospective clients need something to grab on to.  The easiest thing for them to grab on to is your core place of authenticity around the things you help people deal with.  Stop saying you work with PTSD, or you do EMDR or CBT.  Start relating to the very interests you have within PTSD.  Start saying things like, “Trauma can take away family and friends, jobs, and your life.  As we work through your trauma we will work to rebuild those relationships, reconconstruct a new story of your life, and send you into your future with hope and healing.”  Or say, “PTSD can bring on unwanted nightmares, lack of sleep, anxiety and irrational fears.  As we conquer your PTSD, you’ll be amazed at your new life, new restfulness and quiet of your life with the space and energy to focus on positive things.  I often work with clients on techniques to handle the new, strange quiet so it doesn’t create more anxiety!”

Notice how those two sentences bring up a different side to PTSD?  Depending on WHY you enjoy PTSD therapy, you’ll be marketing to those clients who think, “oh WOW, now this is a therapist who stands out and who can offer exactly what I want.”  You’re expressing what you love about the pain by how you express the expression of the pain and the outcomes you in particular enjoy seeing as a result of therapy.  Clients will feel heard, understand, and be given a sense of hope for healing by how you talk about it.

For my place of authenticity in this often-gross world of internet marketing?  My pacifier of self-soothing when my confidence vanishes in a flash?  I have faith in my core of being a passionate techie who sees marketing in a different way, who is less interested in self-promotion and more interested in large-scale shifts of thinking for therapists, who is willing to give away time and energy without a guaranteed return (many hours of writing for the Networker magazine, the MN Marriage and Family Therapy newsletters and this blog), and trusting that as I go along, the right therapists will contact me for cool consulting, or buy my stuff to learn and grow in marketing.  I believe in demonstrating what I believe (by writing blog posts like this) in ways that are accessible and open to the public (not locked down behind an annoying one page email that wants to collect your email address.)  I chose not to talk about some things that annoy the crap out of me, or ever put down therapists for not liking marketing or being clueless about it, or scared, or frugal.  I have tons of horrid therapist website examples to use as teaching tools that I will never share because I don’t believe it would benefit a therapist to ever see their website being criticized without their consent.

I have absolutely no interest in talking about ethics of marketing because my therapy readers are a step past the worry-wart phase, RARELY talk about authenticity because I think it’s overused at this point, am not interested in reinventing the wheel so I tend to steer away from things that have already been done… and I hate the high level approach to most things, trying instead to be really grounded, even if it’s just one really concrete example per blog post like this one that is fairly heady.  (By the way I have a new therapist highly-endorsed 10 Simple and Quick Website Enhancements report if you sign up here on my blog!  It’s VERY grounded and has really cool ideas that usually don’t make it into website trainings because they’re really down-low nitty gritty things.)

I believe therapy is about the relationship.  But I also believe the best way to tell someone how you’ll be in that relationship is to meet their vulnerability with your passion.  And that, my amazing therapist friends and readers, is my mission with all this internet marketing stuff I do.  Your vulnerability + my passion = awesome new learning = you get new clients = the world is a little bit healthier.  I’m already so humbled that I’ve literally helped save thousands of marriages and families through the work I’ve done on the national marriage therapy directory I run.

So tell me, how are you differentiated?  What is your core?  Where is your struggle to articulate your core?

Remembering Prospective Clients Emotions

Whether you love to write but don’t know how to market, or you are grossed out by marketing but know it’s important, I think a great way to get out of your head and professional life is to step back into another world.  My example today is about ACE on Facebook. It’s the American Counseling on Exercise certification organization and I decided getting tips like “Are fresh veggies better than frozen?” seemed useful and engaging so I follow them.  (Important note: they are doing all this to promote exercise, encourage trainers to become ACE certified, and as public awareness building.  Therapists always have a two legged stool: promote mental health generally and promote themselves.)

I am not in shape but don’t need to lose weight.  (I’d LOSE weight if I worked out, and that would be nice, but I’m naturally thin.)  One of my many reasons for not working out is that I have weird medical problems.  And I have a lot of bias against personal trainers.  (Read: prospective clients have a lot of bias about mental health and therapists.)

Just like millions of people who search therapy directories do, I am on the ACE locator for a personal trainer.  I may or may not do anything about it, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to look.  And who knows, it’ll either reinforce my various stereotypes or defy them and get me to DO something.  So let me walk you through some tips that apply to therapists just as they do to this list of personal trainers who, according to the options I’m given to chose from for my needs, deal with “special populations.”  Shucks, don’t I feel special.

This is the list, which opens in a new window.  Maybe you should glance through yourself then read my commentary below.

The very first person caught my eye.  She has advanced training. She has an extremely pleasant photo that is bright, airy, and she is smiling.  Her age is good for me, as my bias is towards the “older and wiser” when it comes to someone empathizing with my chronological age (34) not matching my abilities (really bad knees and low blood pressure problems triggered by….being hot.  Not a great combo with working out.)

As you scroll down the list, do you see why a photo is so important?  I don’t bother opening the non-photo profiles.  And some of the photos seem very random, even if they are fitness people who would be boating or on the beach as fit people do.  I guess I want someone who doesn’t just like boating, but someone who understands as a PROFESSIONAL TRAINER, they have a “business hat” on.  Same thing applies to therapists.  I talk at great length about photos in my upcoming E-book on therapy profiles.  Suffice it to say, PHOTOS MATTER.

Now let’s go into that first person’s profile.  I’ve read all the profiles of the ones with photos who live near me, and this line sticks out.  She says:

I meet with residents regularly and design programs for people with physical limitations.

You’d think by clicking on “special populations” that all these therapists would talk about that group. But they don’t.  Just like therapists who click on countless “specialties” and don’t ever discuss it on the profile.  If you love it so much, why aren’t you even giving one sentence about it?  It makes me want to keep on reading the competitors of yours to find someone who may actually say something. In this case, I am shouting AMEN! to my computer screen.  By golly, I think she’ll get me and work well with my limitations!

The down side is she has no website, but it appears most personal trainers don’t.  Another happy looking woman I may call does have a website, but it’s extremely dated.  It’s like a time warp back to the late 1990’s.  Fortunately I forgive her as at least she HAS a website.

As I go through this list all my emotions come up, just like they do for prospective clients seeking therapists…things like:

will this person be respectful of who I am?

will this person push me more than I’m ready?

will this person understand my unique constraints with time, money, and mental head space to add something new to my already busy life?

will this person be proud of my tiny victories or have me shoot for such crazy goals that I’ll never feel like I measure up?

will this person make me feel like a loser?

how long will it take to actually get the education I need to do this on my own?

can I get my husband involved?  will that make it more cost effective or useful (this applies to a lot of mental health issues – get the spouse educated and on the support team as a spouse works through some major mental health issue!)

what if I can’t even do the basic expectations and shock her at my horrid fitness level?

If you’re good at working out, then maybe you should consider going to a website for another industry you don’t know as much about.  You’ll feel vulnerable and come up with a lot of  questions.  Then you can watch if and how businesses actually address them.  (Examples I can think of include home re modelers or residential architects, real estate agents, dentists, insurance of all kinds, buying a new computer….)

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Immediacy in Therapy Vs Your Website

I’m reading Irvin Yalom and thoroughly enjoying his stories and advice to a new generation of therapists.  I think it’ll be one I buy (it’s a library book.)  Reading more makes me want to delay finishing my  e-book on writing profiles because I have new metaphors and new ways to explain what therapists do in profiles that makes me cringe.

One huge piece of Irvin’s work is immediacy – which some of you DO but the term is foreign.  Research shows even the most experienced therapists often don’t use it, in part, likely, because it’s risk taking to be in the HERE and NOW in relation with the client.  (Though interestingly immediacy is one of the key differences between a coach and a therapist.  A coach backs up and never gets hot with the issues a client has within their relationship whereas a therapist finds it grist for the mill.)  Immediacy is one of three ways to address the RELATIONSHIP NOW:

discuss the relationship between you and your client in the present moment (example: You are showing up late to sessions, I wonder how you’re feeling about me and your therapy experience….)

discuss how you feel about what your client is saying (used as a therapeutic tool, says Irvin, because your reactions are likely similar to everyone else in the clients lives and you can offer a safe “a-ha” awakening by being safe but honest)

discuss how the client felt tell you something powerful, or even just how it feels for the client to share to you (ex: you’ve never shared these sexual traumas with anyone.  How does it feel to tell me something so buried and powerful?)

The problem with therapy profiles is when you attempt to “discuss your relationship” with the prospective client before you even have the relationship.  For example, a lot of therapists feel it is important to have “the right fit” between client and therapist.  They go on to articulate this in their profile.  While that may be true, it may be that some things are better left said in the therapy room.  I read some profiles and STRESS OUT thinking oh my GOD, apparently I don’t have to just find ONE potential therapist here, but a few? And then I have to make appointments, spending money, and “interview” them?  All the sudden the idea of therapy seems really stressful.  Honestly even writing this out makes my anxiety rise.  I can’t imagine having to interview a bunch of therapists when therapy in general is scary and vulnerable.  Plus my view is the therapist has some power (albeit healthy power I give them) so the idea of confronting the powerful therapists that I just met seems beyond the pale.

This is a teaser for what will be in the e-book.  I am not interested in simple copywriting or “marketing” but a holistic look at messaging within the therapy-client context.  None of this you learn in grad school (sadly!) but a lot of it can kill your chances of attracting new clients.  Or of attracting the types of clients you want.

Consider how you use immediacy in your therapy profiles or website.  More to come!

Who are your web customers?

I finally found a tech company I trust to redo my entire Marriage Friendly Therapists website.  It’s always interesting how different people have different perceived goals of a website.  They were asking me about shipping and this fancy tool they have.  Nope, not our business model to be a mini-Amazon for books.  Eventually they got our current website and my pie-in-the-sky dreams.  I’ll await the costs but I’m very giddy about the growth and potential for our therapists!

Just be aware whomever you talk with has their own web experiences.  There are a lot of e-commerce folks out there where it really matters how high you rank for a widget and shopping carts are a make-or-break situation for customers to make purchases.  I even read recently about a company who helps you “recapture” people who went to your shopping cart and left, within an HOUR of that “abandoning” of the cart.

For therapists, your customers are very different.  Unlike a $15 book purchase, therapy is an intense process, a decision not to make lightly, filled with financial and logistical issues.  Even the idea of collecting prospective client emails makes some therapists really uncomfortable.  (It feels pushy and too business-like.)  Depending on what you say, how you say it, and your web design, you may attract a different type of client.

Really think about your clients.  Well, at least the ones you REALLY like working with.  What are they like? What common themes are there among them?  If they are middle-class traveling types, why not write a few fun articles on the psychology of travel?  Or on dealing with tension, anxiety, or moodiness while on the road?  Or maybe on the anxiety of finding the “best deal” and how trips can be ruined entirely on the preparation that turns into hell.  Maybe they love to go camping.  What can you share to make camping more enjoyable for them, psychologically-speaking?  Perhaps you attract a lot of people in the helping profession.  There is a whole lot you could write about how to manage the emotional landmines of working/living in the helping professions.  It could be parents are your core clients.  Write on anything that matters to them!  I’d read anything you can tell me about potty training a strong-willed child who does not respond to bribes AT ALL.  Or how parents can learn to listen to their intuition about child-raising.  What red flags are there in listening to your instincts vs experts?  Remember these are not topics they have to give you their email to read (that’s called a newsletter!)  These are free, no-commitment-needed articles on your website to whet their appetite.

The idea here is if I am your “ideal client” and run across your website, unique articles that talk to ME and what I love will stand out.  They’ll make me read more.  I’ll feel like you really get me, or you’re funny, or insightful, or can teach me something!  It will also do what I love – bridging the “therapy world” with the arena of psychological awareness.  After all, if your clients have similar interests and hobbies but are living in somewhat of a fog (of depression, anxiety, grief, marital strife, etc.) your website can hook them back into things they love to do and help them see that “working on their stuff” can make their regular life even more enjoyable.

These “articles” may only be 3-4 paragraphs.  And you may even experiment at the end of the articles with a link to a new page on “How therapy can help you enjoy ___ more”.  The link opens that new page and you have a brief overview of how therapy changes people, makes them calmer, more self-aware, and how that can improve the area of their life (camping, travel, etc.)  The reason you’d have that “how therapy can help” on a new page is so you can track who reads it!  Remember unlike a book where you have no idea what pages are being read, the web is fully analyzable.  You would be able to track all these fun articles through your website statistics and then see if, say, 20 people last month read your “Travel Tips from Dr. Psychology”, you could then see who kept going to the therapy page.  Maybe only 1 did.  Or maybe all 20 did.  How cool to see what people read!

Now if you’re still following my logic, hold on to how this little idea can morph into more!

It may be you write 5-10 of these small articles and two or three get tons of traffic.  Like, wow, people really love these funny, insightful, even snarky articles.  You’re getting enough traffic to those pages that you see there may be an actual demand for MORE.  You may write an e-book, or have an interactive guide book (assuming most hobbies/interests are shared with loved ones) and charge a little bit of money.  All the sudden you may be making $10 here or there from people who may never seek your therapy services but love what you write.  All you do is write in a Word document, transfer it to PDF format, and use something like e-junkie which is a very simple way to sell e-books (or real books, audio, video…)

And now that we’re in dream land, guess what?  You may gather proof through purchases that you really hit on a hot topic.  Now you call your local community education office and see about doing a WORKSHOP on that topic!  (Let them do all the advertising!  I’ve done this in two districts and each has a different way to pay, different class minimums/maximums, and you make a little bit of money…but you aren’t doing it for money.  There is no way you can pay for the exposure they can provide so you might as well start with a zero-advertising experiment on your topic.)

The class will be psychologically oriented, but on something people love to do, so it won’t feel like a heavy therapy workshop.  It’ll be engaging, fun, and developmentally right where people are at.  From the workshop you may build a reputation, get potential clients, and be able to call yourself a ‘speaker’ in your community.  People trust speakers!

If you hate to write

I ran into someone at my last presentation who hates to write.  I get it.  I really do!  There are lots of things that make me cringe and I would do almost anything to avoid.  Or maybe you wish you had the time, energy, focus, or “something important” to write about.

Here are a few quick ideas:

Think of yourself not as a writer but as a resource.  If you love to READ cool things, you can create a blog, or even have a website, filled with great paths for people to learn more.  I say this sincerely that you can be someone’s “Google” within your area of passion and interest.  If I like you, I’ll just keep going back to your website and following your links rather than web surfing for a bunch of crap websites.

Don’t think of it as writing as much as sharing in a small conversation… 3-5 paragraphs can be more powerful than a long article.  If your content is great people don’t care if you’re not an amazing writer.  In fact it may be more endearing to some people.  (At least that’s what I hope as people read my stuff.)

If you’re really itching, either try writing something or have a conversation with a professional writer (or journalism student) who can tweak your writing or craft, from your verbal ideas, some great written material.

Talk in Q&A format instead of an article.  Write out common questions people have on the topic, then write out the short answers.  No need to create flow, a narrative, or worry much about any writing rules.

Use video!  Get a cheap video camera, set up a You Tube account, and talk!  There is nothing wrong with that and you may just get quite a fan base going of non-readers or web surfers who may only find you because of You Tube.

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