Your best referral source ever is marketing to primary care. Four out of every five prescriptions for psychotropics are written by primary care doctors: internists, family practitioners, and obstetrics and gynecology clinicians. Research also tells us that treatment for many of the diagnoses associated with these prescriptions should include assessment by a mental health clinician for counseling. But that’s not happening.


In our quick-fix society, many patients, even as they are encouraged to find a counselor and invest in therapy along with their meds, often don’t see the value. That’s where you come in. Patients and their prescribing docs may not know that therapy is indicated along with the script. Luckily, there’s a simple way for you to teach this concept.


Step One:

Start with your own primary care visit. After you have received what you need, ask your doctor or nurse practitioner if you can leave them some information about therapy, your practice, and some business cards. If this feels uncomfortable for you, skip to Step Five and then read on from here. Explain that you are interested in working with those cases that seem resistant to meds — maybe those patients who don’t recognize the efficacy of both treatment procedures and how it’s usually clinically indicated that the two together should be used to treat common psychiatric disorders.

Let primary care docs know you are interested in partnering with them because you understand they are often the frontline for complaints and that a referral to a psychiatrist may be a duplication of services for them.


Step Two:

Leave a quick handout with five bullet points that explain why counseling is indicated for common complaints.  Leave ten business cards and, on your way out, ask to speak to the business manager. Introduce yourself and let the business manager know you are interested in becoming a referral source for them and ask how to facilitate that process.


Step Three:

Follow up a month later. Stop by again, leave some more cards and handouts for your doctor, and say hello to the business manager.

It’s a 5-minute process and it all started with a 10-second question:


How do you handle those resistant cases that may take their meds but don’t seem to be getting better?


Step Four:

Ask this clinician for help reaching other doctors whose patients could benefit from being referred to you. It’s as simple as this:


I’m in the process of expanding my practice to include additional referrals. Who is your favorite practice to refer to?”


If it’s an internist, ask for an OB/GYN referral (even if you are male! Consider the niche possibility!)


Step Five:

Now that you have practiced on someone you know, reach out to someone who is new. If you haven’t partnered with your clients’ physicians yet, it’s time. In fact, it’s good medicine to obtain a release, introduce yourself, and consult with whomever is prescribing. This gives you the perfect opportunity to “ask the question.”