4 Reasons You’re Not Getting New Clients

I once read an article by a psychologist who provided crisis counseling to refugees. She anticipated issues of grief and loss, trauma, panic, anxiety. What she did not expect was that almost all of the people she saw had one primary concern: Relationship woes.

It’s relatively the same for those of us in private practice. Of all the things we could struggle with in private practice (clinical skills, forms, when to return phone calls, how to schedule bathroom breaks), the worry generally comes down to: How do I get clients?

It can be quite frustrating because you’ve probably done so much to help people know that you’re available and accepting new clients.

You’ve joined different insurance panels, put up a website, posted occasionally on your social media, joined a networking group or two, spread word with your family and friends. You’ve let colleagues know you’re accepting new clients; you’ve visited a few doctor’s offices.

Yet despite your efforts, the phone isn’t ringing as much as it needs to and your calendar remains pretty empty.

Honestly, you’ve done the heavy-lifting. Now’s the time to tweak it so that you can get your schedule filled.

Here are the four primary reasons you’re not getting new clients:

Lack of clarity.

Too often therapists and coaches fall into the trap of wanting to serve a wide range of people. You’re open to working with many different clinical issues, but without specificity, it’s too hard for clients and referral sources to know who you are meant to serve: Those very people for whom you most passionately help create great transformation and healing. But they have no idea that you can do that for them if you’re unclear.

Imagine someone visits your website to make a referral, what do they see? For example, can they explicitly say, “Ah, this therapist works with teens who cut, perfect! That’s my client!”?

You may be very talented at helping teens with self-injurious behaviors, but if your site and your practice aren’t clearly positioned to make that known—and if you aren’t 100% clear about what it is that you do best—you’re missing out on great clients and great referrals coming your way. Want to know more about how to position your private practice? Read here.

Fear of marketing.

I hear it a lot. Marketing is sleazy. Creepy. Cheesy. Uncomfortable. Those are the excuses that many use for shying away from marketing. By continuing to frame marketing in this way, you’re limiting yourself from using the very tool that is most primed to help you attract new clients: Your skill in building relationships.

Let’s face it, as a therapist, you know people. You know how to connect and join. These are the primary skills of marketing, which is really about building relationships.

It’s time to reframe marketing as an opportunity to connect with people. Marketing is about educating, developing resources, and growing relationships.

But if you continue to fear marketing, or consider it sleazy and uncomfortable, you’re going to continue to struggle to get new clients.

No marketing strategy.

Which leads us to the other problem with fearing marketing: You have no plan for how to connect with potential clients. You have no strategy for building the relationship.

Marketing is about taking potential clients on a journey; helping them to become aware of you and your work and building their trust in you that you are the go-to-solution for their problem.

Without a marketing strategy, you’re just winging it. That might work well when taking a road trip, but in business, winging it doesn’t pay the bills. You have to have a clear plan and implement it.

Lack of confidence.

Too many therapists struggle with confidence. Lack confidence means hiding in the shadows, avoiding being front and center in your practice and your marketing, and shying away from opportunities to create visibility with your practice.

But this is harming your practice because you’re not taking the action you need to promote it.

If you have disbelief in your ability and skill, or you feel uncertain and lack confidence, this is the very thing you communicate in all of your actions, including the actions you don’t take.

It shows on your website. It's evident in the handling of your business. It's even demonstrated in how you deliver services.

For most practice owners, a lack of confidence is a mindset issue that keeps them from pursuing the success they so desire.

If you’re not getting new clients, be sure to take a look at these four areas. Get help as you need to. If you have no idea what a marketing strategy is, seek out resources to learn. If shyness, introversion, or fear is keeping you from taking action, work on becoming more confident.

Get clear about what it is you offer, reframe marketing to relationship building, craft a marketing strategy, and address erroneous and outdated beliefs that might be getting in the way of your success. If you do this, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be one of the therapists complaining about not getting new clients.

Sara Anderson