The Most Important Element of a Psychotherapy Website

What do you picture when you imagine a top-notch psychotherapy website?

You might envision a beautiful layout with professional images and captivating colors. You may think of a place to showcase your work and your accomplishments. You may even see yourself offering products and services online.

You would be right about the importance of all of these elements of a psychotherapy website.

But did you know that there is a specific formula to follow for your website in order to attract clients?

The purpose of a psychotherapy website is to turn visitors into clients. Most potential clients will “stumble” upon your website through a directory listing (like Psychology Today), a search engine (like Google), or a provider directory (like Cigna). When they arrive at your website, they need to know:

  • Who you are
  • How you work
  • If you can help them

Your website needs to answer those questions and FAST, so that visitors want to stick around and get to know you better. These days, even the average internet user is sophisticated enough to expect this. Otherwise, they’ll utilize the power of the “back button”, and you’ll lose them.

  • Your page loads too slow – BACK!
  • Not sure if they’re in the right place – BACK!
  • Can’t find your contact information – BACK!

In this post, I’m going to share the most important element of a psychotherapy website so you can defeat your real enemy, the “back button” and turn your visitors into clients.

(Want to know all 9 of my secrets to a psychotherapy website that gets your phone ringing? I’ve created a freebie Cheat Sheet for you with these “9 Secrets of a Client-Attracting Website for Psychotherapists.” You can download it here.)


Online marketing is essential to any successful private practice. If you rely heavily on new clients finding you online, then your website is a cornerstone of your marketing strategy. Your website is the “hub” of your practice, and is your professional face to the world.

Just as you need to present yourself professionally when you are in session with a client, you also need a website that presents you professionally to potential clients before they even meet you.

Even if most of your business comes from referrals, potential clients will want to “check you out” online before they call you. Consider this a step in the research process. The client wants to get to know you a bit before they reach out and call you. Clients in my private practice would often mention something specific about my website as the reason they chose me. One client told me that I had shared her favorite quote on the same day that she was looking at my site. She saw that as a sign that I was the right therapist for her. Your clients are doing the same thing, even if they don’t mention it.

But here’s the catch… You only have a few SECONDS to captivate psychotherapy website visitors, or you will lose them.

Online marketers often refer to this as the rule of “3 seconds and 3 inches.” If visitors are not engaged by what they see when they first visit your site, they’ll likely be gone within 3 seconds.

The area that potential clients first see when they visit is the top of your home page. When viewed on a computer, this is referred to as “above the fold.” However, many of your clients will use their phones to find you, so you’ve got about three inches of screen space that they can see.

Since clients and potential clients are already out there checking out your website, you should make sure that your website appeals to them rather than turns them away. What do people see when they first visit your site? Is it compelling enough to stand out from the crowd and entice your potential client to stick around?

This is the most critical area of your website. It’s the place to devote your time and attention FIRST, because if you can get potential clients to stick around for more than 3 seconds, now you’ve got a chance to share your message and establish a relationship.

So what should you include in this critical section? Here are the two components:

  1. Start with something visually appealing. A professional picture of you works really well, or a professionally designed banner. The images on your website send subtle messages telling visitors whether or not they are in the right place. They might not even realize they are doing this, but if your website doesn’t appeal to them, they probably won’t even stop long enough to read what you’re saying.Unless you are a trained graphic designer, please don’t try to do this yourself. An image will draw the potential client’s eye, and draw them into your website.
  2. Add text that speaks to the issue that your client is facing. What can you say in 3 seconds that will speak to your ideal client and make them think, “YES! This therapist GETS IT!” Marketers call this “entering the conversation in your clients’ head.” This isn’t the place to showcase you and your training. It’s the place to let the client know that you get them and their problem.

After you’ve created your content, be sure to test what you’ve created on several different platforms: computer, telephone, and tablet. That way you’ll make sure you’re putting your best foot forward no matter what device your potential client is using.

(NOTE: Want even more website essentials that will make your website irresistible to potential clients? Check out this freebie I’ve created for you.)