How to Choose a Profitable Psychotherapy Niche When You’re Just Starting Out

If you’ve recently started a private practice, you’ve probably already heard, “you’ve got to choose a niche”. You get it, right? But how do you narrow it down when you’re still figuring out what you love to do? This is the Catch-22 that snags many therapists launching a practice.

In this article, I’ll show you WHY the success of your practice relies on you choosing the right niche, and HOW to choose one that works for you.

I’ve also created a FREE “Private Practice Profitable Niche Selection Checklist” that you can download here:

Click Here to Download the Profitable Niche Selection Checklist

Let’s start with WHY it’s so essential that you choose a niche… This is a real sticking point for many new private practitioners because it seems so counter-intuitive. First, you’re trained to treat a wide variety of presenting problems. There are many clients out there who truly can benefit from your help. So clearly this isn’t about clinical skills.

Second, you don’t want to turn clients away. In the beginning, you’ll take pretty much anyone you can get. Believe me, I understand that. I was just like you in the beginning of my own practice. In fact, I tried the “I can help anyone” approach for a few years before I realized that it just didn’t work.

Here’s the problem… when you try to appeal to everyone, you can’t create a marketing message that is compelling to anyone. Try it right now…

What marketing message could you write that would attract someone considering divorce AND someone with chronic pain?

You couldn’t do it, right? The person considering divorce would respond to a message of “get clarity and move forward with your life whether you stay in your marriage or not”. The person with chronic pain would respond to “live a pain-free life”.

Any marketing message you created would have to be generic enough to work for both groups. And a generic marketing message just ain’t gonna cut it.

Imagine for a moment that your marriage was in crisis… Would you want to work with someone who treats couples, depression, addiction, anxiety, chronic pain, and trauma? Or would you want someone who specializes in treating couples in crisis?

I’d sure want the specialist and I think you would too. That’s the crux of why you must choose a niche, or a specialty, in order to effectively market your practice. It has everything to do with expert positioning and client attraction.

So, HOW do you choose a niche? Generally new therapists are overwhelmed by the notion of which niche to choose, because they are passionate about more than one area.

Set goal concept, hand going to take dart into the center of sketching dartboard

Trying to start with more than one niche is a recipe for disaster. Here’s why: when you’re just starting out, you’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of you just learning how to market your practice. It’s much faster and far more effective to focus on learning practice-building skills with just one specialty on your plate. If you’re trying to figure it out for two or more specialties at the same time, it’s going to take you a long time to build momentum.

If you truly have your heart set on doing more than one specialty, pick one and market that exclusively for 6 – 9 months. Then, when you’ve figured out how to make the marketing work, you can add on another specialty.

I did this in my own practice. For several years, I was known for hypnotherapy to treat anxiety. However, I reached a point where I was a little burned out from doing 12 – 15 hypnotherapy sessions a week. So I added in a sub-specialty treating IBS for a little variation. Once that was off the ground, I built Boca Marriage Counseling. This grew incredibly quickly because by then I had already figured out the marketing “formula”. If I had tried to do all three at once, I never would’ve gotten anywhere.

So you don’t have to commit to your niche for the rest of your career. But you do need to pick a path to start down. However, not all niches are created equal. You need to combine your passion with what potential clients want. Bringing these two together lays the foundation for a profitable niche.

niche1In my Niche Selection Checklist, I include 12 Criteria for a profitable private practice niche. Download a copy (it’s free), and ask yourself how each of the niches you’re interested in scores on the checklist. Ideally, you want to select a niche that has a ‘Yes’ for each of the 12 items.

Click Here to Download the Profitable Niche Selection Checklist

One last bit of advice… If you’ve done ALL of this and you just can’t decide, here’s how to make the choice: eeny-meeie-miney-mo. Yep, that’s right. It’s far better to make a choice and TAKE ACTION then to get stuck in inaction. Inaction will never get you where you want to be. However, when you take action, you’ll always be able to course correct as needed to get closer and closer to your goal.