how to get a therapy referral

How to Get Referrals As A Therapist: 9 Easy Strategies

Referrals are a great way to fill your practice up with more clients. Getting referrals is simple, easy to do, and can sustain your practice for the long-term. So, how do you get referrals as a therapist?

First, know that seeking referrals is a great option:

  • It’s easy to get started
  • Referrals have good reason to trust you
  • You can have referrals in as little as 24 hours
  • You become more connected to your community

Referrals are important for keeping your practice growing. Let’s explore a few ways to get referrals as a therapist.

how to get therapy referrals

Ethical Concerns When Seeking Referrals As A Therapist

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the ethics up front…

When you seek client referrals, you first need to be aware of a few ethical concerns. These can help protect you and your clients:

  1. Client confidentiality. Never ask for referrals in a way that violates your clients privacy. Never share details of their therapy with others.
  2. Dual relationships. Don’t accept a referral if they know important people in your personal life. This could make it easy to breach confidentiality.
  3. Client-focused. Any referral you accept should be beneficial to the new client. Don’t accept a referral solely for your own personal or financial gain.
  4. Boundaries and power dynamics. It’s important that no pressure be placed on your clients to provide referrals.

This is a general outline of things to be aware of. Please consult your professional code of ethics for more information.

Now we’ve got ethics covered. What are some ways that you can start getting more referral clients as a therapist?

what is a therapy referral

9 Great Strategies for Getting Referrals

Let’s dive right in. Here are 9 strategies you can use right away to get more referral clients.

  1. Ask for referrals: Don’t be afraid to ask your clients for referrals directly. Inform them that you appreciate their support and would be grateful if they could recommend your services to their friends, family, or colleagues who might benefit from therapy.
  1. Provide great therapy: When clients have a positive experience and achieve their therapy goals, they are more likely to refer others to you. Go above and beyond for every client.
  1. Educate clients about referrals: Many clients may not know that you rely on referrals to expand your practice. Take 60 seconds to educate your clients about how referrals work and explain how much it means to you.
  1. Offer an incentive: Incentivize your clients to refer others. Offer a discounted session or provide a token of appreciation for each successful referral. Make sure every client knows you do this.
  1. Network with other professionals: Establish connections with MDs, psychiatrists, social workers, and school counselors. They’ll encounter clients who could benefit from therapy and could refer them to you. Attend professional events, join local networking groups, and engage in collaborative projects to expand your professional network.
therapy referral network

6. Community partnerships: Identify community organizations, such as non-profits, support groups, or wellness centers, that align with your therapeutic approach or specialize in your areas. Offer to provide educational workshops, training sessions, or consultations to these organizations. Position yourself as an expert and get referrals.

7. Encourage online reviews: Encourage satisfied clients to leave online reviews on platforms such as Google, Yelp, or Healthgrades. Positive reviews can lead to increased referrals.

8. Online directories: An optimized profile on Psychology Today, Good Therapy, Therapy Den, and other directories can bring in consistent referrals month after month. Make sure your profile is optimized with a good hook, benefits of working with you, instructions for contacting you, and a friendly, professional headshot.

9. Write a book: Being known as an expert in your field can lead to waves of referrals. Consider seeking a book deal with a publisher to get your name in front of more people. The upside could be worth the effort.

Now you have 9 strategies to get more referrals, build your practice, and help more people. If you’re not sure where to start, pick 1-2 strategies to focus on. We’ll cover how to track your referrals in a later section.

best referral sources for therapists

Did Someone Say, “Free Tacos”?!

My dentist Dr. Ameet Trivedi in Austin, TX is a quirky guy.

After taking x-rays on my teeth one visit, he said “oh yeah, I’ll give you a $15 gift card for Torchy’s Tacos for a good review. It’s good for about 3 tacos.”

So, I jumped on it. And I wasn’t the only one, because he has 320+ reviews on Google Maps!

This is important, because his little incentive is slowly but surely building his brand to #1 in his area. That’s gonna lead to tons of new clients for years to come. Not to mention the ability to sell his dentistry practice for piles of cash when the time comes.

And the same can be true of your therapy practice. Consider giving your clients an incentive to post a good review on Google or Yelp, and watch your practice expand.

Whether it’s free tacos, a discounted session, a coffee mug, or something else, make it easy and enjoyable for people to bring you referrals.

why referrals are important

Tracking Your Referrals: Why to Do It, and Doubling Down

Now, your work isn’t done just yet. You’ll want to track your referrals in an Excel spreadsheet.

The reasoning is simple: Once you’ve tracked your referral sources for 90 days, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t. 

Once you know the top 1-2 referral sources, double down. Pour all of your referral efforts into those, and cut the rest entirely.

Now you have a tested referral strategy or two, and you can grow your practice further with other marketing strategies.

how to get referrals as a therapist

Getting Referrals As A Therapist + Your Overall Marketing Strategy

Truth be told, referral marketing is only one small sliver of marketing in general.

You still have content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, print advertising, online advertising, and more.

Referral marketing is great because it’s so inexpensive (sometimes even free) and brings qualified people to your practice.

However, referral marketing can only take you so far. If you want to build a practice that can’t be stopped, you’ll need something extra. That’s why I recommend content marketing.

With content marketing, you’ll be able to build a long-term source of new clients through your website and blog.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Get clear on your ideal client. An easy way to do this is to decide “if I had to see 10 clones of one of my current or past clients every week, who would I choose?”
  2. Write your website to reflect this focus on your ideal client. Be sure to include numerous calls-to-action and ways for clients to reach out to you.
  3. Write blogs that address the challenges and pains faced by this type of client. This will attract more of them to your website where they can go from readers to paying therapy clients.

Neglect your content marketing at your own peril. Research shows that it’s one of the best investments a business can make in today’s modern marketing landscape.

If you’d like help with your content marketing, contact me for a 7-minute blog breakdown or blog strategy session. There’s no obligation. Let’s clarify your content marketing strategy together.

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