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Geoff

Getting a website for your private practice

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Creating and maintaining a successful website can be a nightmare for the non tech-savvy. Here are our Top 10 Tips to keep you on the right track.

  1. Accept that you need a website. Nowadays, a quick online search is the first port of call for people looking for therapists. So in order to get more clients, you need to have an attractive online presence.
  2. Have a clear objective. What do you want your website to achieve? It is important that you know the answer to this question to help you or the design company to build it. For example, do you want clients to contact you via email, contact form or phone? How many extra clients do you want as a result? What is a priority? What is not? Having clear goals will improve your website’s SEO.
  3. Choose a domain name. Make sure it is relevant, short and easy to remember, and then check it is available to buy with search tools such as Domain Check.
  4. Choose an established hosting provider. Hosting providers rent server space for your website, with a pricing plan that depends on your content requirements, such as pictures and videos, and emails. Choose one who will answer your queries before asking for your money.
  5. Create your website. Depending on how much creative control you want to have, you can choose anything from a DIY website builder with templates, to a fully bespoke designed website. An important thing to consider here is the level of long term support you require. To help you decide which option is best for you, here are some reviews from the Private Practice Hub.
  6. Make sure your website looks professional. There is a reason why some DIY website builders are so cheap. These packages will often make your website look amateurish, and turn off potential clients as a result. To avoid this pitfall, think about how much you are willing to invest in your website and keep the design clear and clean.
  7. Use the right words. Your website needs to be able to attract and hold your visitors’ attention within 5 seconds. The right copywriting will help you do this. Good copy will consider the aim of your website, your target audience, and the benefits of therapy. It will also take a conversational style and appear in short, digestible chunks.
  8. Have a call to action on every page. In other words, prompt your visitors to take action and ‘give me a call on…to find out more’. To make this successful, make sure you provide your contact details on each page too.
  9. Consider social media integration. Like it or not, integrating social media on your website will pull in a wider audience and improve SEO. Most providers will integrate with the standard social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn), but do consider other platforms. For example, is an integrated blog important to you?
  10. Beat the competition. A recent survey found that 20% of therapist respondents do not have a website. It also discovered that 25 % felt their websites didn’t do the job they wanted; 67% didn’t know how many visitors they received; and 30% hadn’t updated their sites for 4 months or more. If you want to get ahead of the crowd, a good website is essential.

Online directories for therapists

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More often than not, marketing is a necessary but frightening concept for those who do not specialise in it. For therapists in private practice, it is crucial to be able to create a strong online presence whilst still dedicating time to the therapy side of your work. This can be a tricky balance to strike.

Nowadays, most potential clients look for therapy by searching online, so if you register your practice in an online directory, you will be contacted by more people than if you use business cards or newspaper ads alone. Plus, once you have signed up, you will save a significant amount of time on marketing and be able to focus on other aspects of your practice.

Registering with general online directories (such as Yell or Freeindex) can be helpful, but many successful therapists in private practice will tell you that therapy specific directories work more to their advantage, in terms of the number of clients that are referred through them.

This is due to the fact that industry-specific online directories have the power to increase your visibility to potential clients through their increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In effect, this means that your practice will appear higher up in their Google search results, leading to more prospective clients and increased referrals.

It is also beneficial to register with an online directory that is specific to therapy because it will enhance your reputation by association. If people feel that they can trust your practice, they will be more inclined to contact you.

On the Private Practice Hub website there is a comprehensive list of online directories specifically for therapists, which can be downloaded by becoming a member, free of charge. This includes UK Therapy Hub, an online directory for therapists which lets you have total control of your profile. UK Therapy Hub gives you the space to tell potential clients about your experience and what you can offer them. This will help you to build a connection with potential clients and encourage them to contact you.

Using an online directory like this can make marketing your practice so much simpler, cheaper and more effective – it doesn’t seem like such a frightening prospect after all!

Mindfulness

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Modern day life has left people feeling that they aren’t present in their own lives, between multitasking and coping with complex priorities. Mindfulness, which has its origins in Buddhism, can help people achieve balance in their life, react calmly to distressing situations and to address negative habits. Therapists teach clients techniques such as mindfulness meditation, which allows the client to focus on their senses and take an objective look at their daily chaotic thoughts. Other exercises such as Thai Chi and yoga can also help clients feel present in the here and now. This is believed to enable the client to reassess their habits and find better ways to cope with daily struggles in an aim to reduce overall stress.

Mindfulness can help with insomnia, chronic pain, eating disorders and addictions. Furthermore, sufferers of anxiety and depression may benefit from more complex mindfulness based therapies such as:

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) which combines mindfulness techniques with cognitive therapy. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has clinically approved MBCT as a ‘treatment of choice’ for those with recurrent depression.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is often used to treat long-term stress. It teaches meditation and other gentle exercises which allow a client to see events with clarity and work with their emotions effectively. The Mental Health Foundation found that MBSR has resulted in a 70% reduction in anxiety and an increase in disease-fighting antibodies to name but a few benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is a technique which has received approval from many GPs.

Family Therapy

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Family or systemic therapy is centred on the improvement of relationships between family members and how each member interacts with each other. This can help a family to settle tension, overcome life changing events and encourage members to act collaboratively and with empathy. A family therapist should be an unbiased mediator who can give each member the opportunity to contribute to discussion.

Systemic therapy is used because it looks at the family structure as a whole and not as isolated individuals. Family therapists can work with a range of issues such as divorce, bereavement, psychosexual difficulties and conflict between family members. Family therapists can work collaboratively with health professionals to target specific conditions such as ADHD, addictions and eating disorders, which may be having a negative impact on family life. Therefore family therapy is useful for short and long term difficulties.

Family therapy sessions are tailored to the key individual needs of the family involved, taking into consideration their ages and individual preferences. Techniques used may include those based around systemic theory, cognitive behavioural or psychodynamic therapy. Occasionally, family therapists may wish to see parents of very young children individually or other members before treatment starts to assess the family dynamic.

It can take several sessions for a therapist to help the family identify their strengths and weaknesses as a unit, develop communication skills and work to move forward. These will not necessarily be weekly sessions and the plan depends on the severity or specific factors of the problems at hand.

Osteopathy

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Osteopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) when used outside of the US. It is founded on the principle that our general wellbeing depends upon our ligaments, muscles, joints and connective tissue working together. Osteopaths aim to find, prevent and heal sources of pain by massaging and manipulating the client’s muscles and joints.

When is Osteopathy used?

Osteopathy is often used on patients who suffer from lower back pain, sports injuries, arthritis, shoulder and neck pain. However, some osteopaths have promoted the use of such treatment on period pains and migraines but the evidence for its success is limited. Additionally, Osteopaths are qualified to identify problems for which a client may need to seek further medical investigation in the form of blood tests or MRI scans.

Osteopathy sessions often last just under an hour in which the practitioner will first address the client’s general health before physically examining the symptoms. The client may have to remove clothing so that the practitioner can address the affected areas. They use their hands to massage, stretch stiff joints and to move the body in its natural way (known as articulation). They may also use high-velocity thrusts in a motion with sharp movements to the spine. Practitioners must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) in order to call themselves osteopaths and use this method on clients.

Acupuncture

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Traditionally, acupuncture aims to rebalance the energy that flows along the meridian points of the body with the insertion of fine sterilised needles into the skin. This works by stimulating nerves in the muscle tissue and under the skin. Traditional practitioners believe that acupuncture can restore the body’s energy flow or Qi.

Acupuncture therapy is carried out on clients who have had a medical diagnosis and is often used to treat issues such as headaches, lower back pain and nausea after chemotherapy, IBS and osteoarthritis. Occasionally, acupuncture is used as an alternative treatment for infertility or anxiety for example. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture for chronic lower back pain and migraines, backed by scientific evidence.

Acupuncture practitioners should either be regulated healthcare professionals or belong to an acupuncture association. Some patients have recorded short term effects of feeling drowsy or dizzy as a side effect, but patients should not feel pain during the treatment apart from tingling sensations. Sessions generally last from 20 to 40 minutes and can stretch for up to ten sessions. There is a short discussion about the client’s general health, medical history and a short medical examination before any needles are inserted. Up to 12 acupuncture points will be chosen depending upon the symptoms of the sufferer and areas of pain. These needles are generally left in the skin for up to 30 minutes. Sometimes the practitioner may stimulate the needles with a mild electric current in a procedure known as electroacupuncture.

Interpersonal Therapy

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Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a type of therapy based on the theory that issues such as depression can cause difficulties in personal relationships and that these problems can in turn worsen the symptoms of depression. Therefore IPT is a short-term therapy, normally lasting 12-16 weeks which attempts to break this cycle and foster much healthier ways that the client can interact with the important people in their lives.

Interpersonal therapy sessions are at first centred on identifying the key areas of improvement and ordering these into when and how they will be addressed. Therefore IPT targets focused issues, aiming to gain results in a short amount of time. Sessions towards the end of the treatment plan will focus on honing in skills the client has learnt and making sure they can apply them to their life after therapy.

IPT is a therapy which can help with the following issues:

  • Poor relationships that the client wants to improve
  • Disputes which have originated with the people in the home or workplace environments
  • Grief or bereavement
  • Dramatic life changes which affect the client’s relationship role

Dynamic interpersonal therapy

Dynamic interpersonal therapy is similar to IPT but focuses much more on the link between the relationships of the client’s past and the difficulties that they now face. The therapist will help the client to understand how they have felt about past relationships in order to help them cope with their current relationships in a constructive way.

 

Integrative Therapy

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Integrative counsellors believe that therapy should be tailored to the client. All psychotherapy theories have merit but often contradict each other and must be integrated. Integrative therapy is founded on the principle that some issues cannot be solved using just one type of psychotherapy.

Integrative therapy is focused upon healing the client as a whole physically and psychologically. The therapist will help the client to identify their own limitations and work upon how to overcome them. Therapy involves self-exploration and allows the client to look at each moment or issue individually without a predetermined attitude or opinion.

What does Integrative Therapy entail?

Integrative therapists use various techniques such as cognitive and behavioural therapies, psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies and humanistic therapies. For example, a therapist might want to start on behavioural therapies with a client who has behavioural issues before they move on to analysing the emotions and past memories which may have had an effect on the client and how they behave. Integrative therapists must be non-judgemental, committed and build a foundation of trust with their client in order for the client to achieve their goals.

Integrative therapy can be a long process used to treat long-term issues such as anxiety, trauma or depression and is therefore not suitable for clients who are looking for short or intense therapy.

Psychosexual Therapy

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Psychosexual therapy is a method of therapy which aims to help people who suffer from psychological sexual difficulties. Clients may suffer from temporary or long term issues, and be of any age or sexual orientation. Sexual difficulties can often be embarrassing to talk about, even to a partner, so a psychosexual therapist can provide professional, empathetic and objective support on sexual matters.

Psychosexual therapists can help clients to overcome issues such as the following:

  • Recent lack of sexual desire
  • painful intercourse
  • difficulties with orgasm
  • arousal disorders
  • erectile dysfunction, premature or delayed ejaculation
  • post-abuse
  • breakdown in a relationship
  • not being able to achieve penetrative sex
  • sexual anxieties
  • menopause
  • pregnancy and postnatal sex
  • poor body image which affects intimacy

Psychosexual therapy does not involve medical examinations or any sexual acts; therapists are trained to listen and work through a client’s sexual issues and emotions only. Past events may be identified which have caused present difficulties such as sexual abuse which the therapist can discuss with their client. A treatment plan will be devised, which may incorporate exercises such as sensual touching for the client to practice alone or with a partner. Sex therapy can also help people suffering from chronic illnesses and disabilities by providing other solutions in order to achieve sexual intimacy such as artificial aids.

Professional psychosexual therapists should have been trained in a post-graduate diploma in psychosexual therapy and have taken part in at least 200 hours of supervised clinical work.

Psychodynamic Therapy

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Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in psychoanalysis, where a therapist observes the psychological processes of the client’s brain in order to address these problems and reduce their symptoms. Central to psychodynamic therapy is the relationship between therapist and patient. For example, when the therapist is put in a parental position this can help to examine how the client interacts with their real parents and ways to improve this can be discussed. This type of therapy is versatile and can be short or long-term, and used to treat individuals, groups or couples.

A key principle of psychodynamic theory is that people try to forget their painful memories and emotions by keeping them in their unconscious through defence mechanisms, repression and denial. Psychodynamic therapists aim to get their client to talk about their emotions in order to uncover what troubles them and then reduce or remove these defence mechanisms.

Improvisational psychodynamic music therapy

Psychodynamic therapists may also use music in order to allow the client to express themselves or feel more comfortable during a session. Various musical instruments are used by the client even if they have no experience. Music therapists can then interpret how the client uses the instruments to uncover their personality traits and their underlying emotional difficulties. When the therapist joins in on making this music a strong bond can be built between therapist and client as a foundation for further therapy. Music can also be played during sessions to relax clients who may suffer from anxiety.