Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CONTEST WINNER and Top 5 Website Mistakes! [Classic Beginning Counselor]

A counselor's website can make or break their practice.  A good website attracts clients to the counselor's practice, while a bad website loses or even repels potential clients. Don't be another good counselor with a bad website. Here's your inside scoop on the top 5 counselor website mistakes, and how to avoid them.

Mistake # 5: Forgetting That The Website Is For The Client, Not The Counselor.  
            This is a problem with the focus of the website. When a person is in pain, they aren't interested primarily in hearing about your degrees or how many certifications you have. They just want to know- quickly - how you can help them with their problem. Wouldn't you, if you were in their position? If you can convey to the client right away what changes you can help make in the client's life, you will greatly increase your chances of getting a phone call and eventually securing an appointment.

Mistake #4: Not Including a Blog
            This is a problem of connecting to the client. Before a client is ready to pick up the phone, they want to know who YOU are. There's no better way for a person to get a sense of that than to hear your voice. Write about your techniques, your successes, your philosophy of life - just let them hear YOU. The number-one reason that my clients tell me they chose to call me is that they read and liked my blog.

Mistake #3: Not Linking To A Mailing List.
            This is a question of timing. A person might spend just a minute on your website, and then be gone forever. Many people have to consider visiting a therapist several times before they make the decision to go. But if it in that minute that they are on your website they respond to an inspiring offer to sign up for your email list, you can continue connecting to that client long after that first moment. That way, when they are readyto call someone, you will be the person they think of. (Check out MailChimp, AWeber, or MadMimi for your email marketing needs.)

Mistake #2: Not Having A Personalized Domain Name.           
            This conveys a lack of professionalism. Whether it's the name of your company or your own name, creating a personalized domain name is the easiest way for a client to remember how to find you. It also tells clients that you're serious about your business. The alternative is to include some kind of a tag from your web provider in your domain name, like so: (Or :D)That's not acceptable for a professional counselor website. With domain names costing less than $10 these days, there's no excuse not to get one for yourself!

And the NUMBER ONE Mistake Counselors Make When Creating Their Own Website: Paying Too Much For A Basic Website.
            This is a huge financial mistake! Money that is wasted on a website cannot be invested back into your business or distributed through more effective forms of marketing. The only exception to this rule is if you want custom design services - then you should hire someone with web design expertise. But for a good, basic, website with a blog you can pay $50 or less to start up and just a few dollars to maintain each month. Anything more is just too much when you're starting out! 

           Want to know how you can learn how to build your own client-attracting website  - without spending a lot of cash? What about: 

  • An easy, 8-step formula for creating the perfect beginning counselor website?
  • Which 3 things you should pay for on a basic website.
  • Which pages are necessary for counselors to have....and which AREN'T. 
  • How you can spend $31 (like I did) in start-up fees for your first counselor website. 
  • An introduction to the 5 major free website services, as well as their pluses and minuses.
  • The truth behind the "Google AdWords Gimmick."
  • Plus basic copywriting skills, the rules for using pictures on your website, what you need to know when buying a domain name, and more. 
Find out more at:
          How To Build A Killer Counselor Website For (Almost) Free!

           With this training, you'll find out how even a person without advanced computer skills can easily create a professional-looking website. You could be one of them!

And announcing the winner of a FREE copy of How To Build A Killer Counselor Website For (Almost) Free, including the full audio training and slides....Alicia Pearson! Congratulations, Alicia! Thanks for entering and for being a part of our Beginning Counselor community!




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Win Free Stuff! (Beginning Counselor Contest!)

There's no regular blog post today. (I've been moving for the past week. Deal.) Instead, we're going to have the first-ever Beginning Counselor contest!

In honor of my moving day, I'm asking you to answer this question, 

"What business skill do you need to learn to move up to the next level in your counseling business?"

For example, moving to Dallas I will finally be able to get into an office for face-to-face counseling as well as online work. So the skill I believe I need to master is public speaking. When you speak in public, people get a chance to meet you in person and it can translate to making appointments.

What about you?

All you have to do to answer this question and enter the contest is to scroll down to the comments section and submit your answer to the question, "What business skill do you need to learn to move up to the next level in your counseling business?" Not only will I do my best to direct you towards the next step in "movin' on up," but one of you will win a free hour-long mp3 training on a business-building topic, which I will be discussing more with you next week. 

The winner will be announced next Wednesday and entries will be accepted up until Tuesday night at midnight.

Once again, all you have to do is comment below! Don't miss out on the chance to win a mp3 training (regularly priced at $37) on a business-building topic! 

Comment now!

"What business skill do you need to learn to move up to the next level in your counseling business?"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Counseling Is Like Cooking

Who else is obsessed with 

If that doesn't make you hungry...then you're probably a vegetarian. (And if you are...I'm sorry. Look away.) Meatball Nirvana is a staple at my house. If we're having guests over, if we're watching The Godfather, if it's at-home date's one of our favorites. 

One of the reasons it's our favorite is because we took a great recipe and we made it our own. Check out the link above, and you'll note it's written one way. The Adams family recipe has a few things changed:

Instead of sea salt, we use coarse ground kosher salt. It's flavorful without being overwhelming. Neither myself or Tim like the taste of cooked onion pieces, so we use onion powder. Because we already have large salt crystals, we use garlic powder instead of garlic salt. We use 1 or 2 % milk instead of skim. And we use Italian bread crumbs, not simply 'seasoned.' 

If you look at the original recipe, that could add up to some major changes. So when I tell you "try this recipe, it's my favorite!" it's really not exactly my favorite at all. It's where my favorite meal started.

I'm not the only one who does that. If you read the nearly 2000 reviews for Meatball Nirvana, you'll see that nearly all put their own "spin" on it. CookingBug serves it on hoagie rolls. (What?) Jillian skips the milk and puts egg in instead. ItalianTapas does a half-beef half-pork combo and subs some ricotta for the milk. 

How does this story matter to the new therapist? 

  • Like cooking, counseling is an ART not a science. The personality of the cook and the counselor matter to the finished result.
  • Just like a minor ingredient can make a big difference in taste, as a counselor, you may never know what small thing you said that helped your client move to another level. 
  • You're not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Hoagie rolls? Really? That's sacrilege to me. But it works for CookingBug, and more power to them.
  • According to Jillian, you have to break a few eggs to get a positive result. So do you have to fumble, and say dumb things once in a while, to become the counselor you're meant to be. 
  • Nothing gets cooked - and nothing changes - until HEAT is applied! You as the counselor, and your client, will grow as you make mistakes and face pressure to change.

It's normal to be nervous starting out. You have your preconceptions about how counseling is supposed to be. But your clients? They're just happy to be "fed." It's you who notices every imperfection along the way. 

Take a lesson from your clients and just sit down and enjoy the meal you're sharing together. 

If you liked this article, you might also like Guess What? Nobody Gets You.

What's YOUR favorite recipe, and what do you do to tweak it? Click here to share with us! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is This You, Beginning Counselor?

Do you know you're meant to be a counselor, but can't yet see what exactly that means for you?

Are you working in a sub-specialty of counseling that you thought you'd love, and are finding it's not really for you?

Is there something you want to focus on in the field, but you're not sure you can?

Welcome to a problem EVERY new counselor has: What kind of counselor can I/should I be?

I entered the counseling field via a hard right turn from family law (which I didn't realize would be mainly divorce) into family counseling. In fact, my undergraduate major was family psychology. I started the counseling program at Dallas Baptist University certain I would be taking some extra classes to earn my MFT.


I started my practicum and realized one thing very quickly. I didn't love working with couples.

I could work with them. I was capable at it, and there were certainly some couples that I grew particularly attached to and really wanted to help.

But overall, I didn't love it.

So what, I asked myself, was I supposed to do NOW!?

You may be going through the same thing. You came in all gung-ho on play therapy, or REBT or something else, and are discovering with time that it's just not your cup of tea. Or maybe you still love it, but it's requiring far more time, energy and money to get certified than you are ready and willing to offer. So what do you do about it?

Buzz: "This is no time to panic."

Woody: "This is the PERFECT time to panic!"

1. First of all, don't panic! You still had this desire in your heart to be a counselor for a reason. It will pay off. There is an answer out there. 

2. Next, ask yourself, what don't you love about it? Is it just not as fulfilling as you thought it would be? Do you need more training? Is there some other block to success?

3. Then, get better or get out. It is okay to change your mind. If this part of counseling is not what you thought it would be, it's okay to explore a different side. I know you may have already invested a great deal of time or money in developing this area of counseling, and I understand how hard it can be to let that go. But don't think about it as wasted time or money. Think about it as an investment in learning where your place in counseling ultimately is.

If you do still love it, but don't feel good about it, it's time to get better! That may mean certification or additional training that does cost money. It's our responsibility as counselors to be competent in what we practice. But there may be some disciplines that you can develop your skills in without a hefty sum. Have you thought about going to someone who works in your area and seeing if you can sit in with them as they provide counseling services? Beginning the self-study by purchasing a textbook from Amazon, like this one on online counseling I bought when I started practicing online, or this one from experts DeeAnna Merz Nagel and Kate Anthony? It may not make you "competent" to the level you can hang your shingle on it, but it will help you determine whether this is a path you want to pursue and prepare you to sail through further certification with ease!

You don't need a certification for every specialty. For example, I learned I loved working with teenagers alone, as well as teenagers with their parents. My certification in that area became my experience, and my age, which I'll just say is currently between teenagers and their parents' ages.

I worked for the last year as a rape crisis counselor, and discovered quite by accident that I loved the work. My competency in that comes from experience, but in the future I plan to develop further competency in seeking training in TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.) As I transition to a new area of Texas, and likely by necessity a new career, I keep up my skills by blogging at Survivor Is A Verb: Letters of Hope and Encouragement for Survivors of Sexual Assault.

What about you? Click here to comment on what challenges you've encountered in finding your niche, and how you've overcome them. Or are you currently stuck on what to do about it? Let us help!