Six months ago when building my new private practice was only an idea, I was at the dentist chatting with the receptionist. As it often goes, when I mentioned I was a counselor, she told me about her son’s life-long struggles with mental health. He was searching for a new therapist in the area. I gave her the names of therapists I thought would be a good fit. Fast forward to now; I’m out marketing my new practice–including my dentist’s office. The same woman greets me. Immediately, she starts telling me about her son. There are tears in her eyes as she insists on a hug–his life is on track for the first time in years! That, my friends, is a referral success!
Now, I didn’t profit off this interaction, but at least two positive results came from it. First, her son is making wonderful progress and having a positive counseling experience. Second, I feel confident that she will pass along my information to others.
I am a firm believer that the right fit makes all the difference in successful therapy. I know that I’m not everything to everybody, but I can usually help people find what they need. It’s the butterfly effect!
Networking with other therapists is worth the time and energy. Keep a spreadsheet with clinician information you are comfortable referring to. They are all people you trust–having met in person or heard about from a reliable source. Jot down their location, if they accept insurance, favorite populations, and any other relevant information. You can quickly consult that list to point people in the right direction.
Most clinicians ask clients who referred them. A referral is a high professional compliment and the respect will flow both ways. That therapist will think of you down the road when they get a call from a client who is not a good fit for them.
Finding the right therapist is a frustrating task for clients. It’s scary to reach out for help in the first place. Add on the irritation of unreturned messages, insurance acceptance, and scheduling issues: It’s no wonder many people give up! You might have the information they need at your fingertips.
Ideally, your guidance will provide a smoother path and a positive outlook on therapy. Our field still carries a stigma, so any positive press is a plus. Clients in need will be grateful for the guidance and advocacy.
The moral of the story? You never know who is on the other end of the phone or sitting in front of you. A quick conversation could eventually lead to a client. They might have a friend or neighbor looking for the services you provide. It could be a physician who is looking for a therapist for herself but will pass your name along to patients. Taking a couple of minutes could prove to be profitable in the future.
Remember, every interaction is an opportunity to grow your positive reputation in the community while helping a fellow human out.