Designing your private practice website requires thoughtfulness.
What is the purpose of your website? What information and content should you include?
The design, theme, layout, and management may be outside your wheelhouse and you might hire someone to do it, but you still need to decide on the content to put on those cyber pages.
You’ll need to tell your designer what you want potential clients to see when they land in your tiny space on the internet.
What impression do you want a prospective client to get when they land there? How do you want them to feel when they are looking at your website pages? The answer is easy: You want them to feel your authentic compassion and concern for their well-being.
I’m not talking about the colors, pictures, or design.
I’m talking about content.
What is excellent content for your psychotherapy practice website?
Well, that depends.
Are you focused solely on telling your visitors about your services? Creating a cyberspace that is all about you and what you offer? If you are, that’s okay. Most of us do it that way.
We think: What am I offering clients? Who am I as a therapist? What will they get out of coming to see me? What services do I offer? Fees, policies, insurance accepted, etc. These are some of the obvious things to put on your website: the business side of things.
Or, are you thinking about the other things people are looking for besides a compassionate therapist?
Tip #1 Your website should contain content that is more than just all about you. It should be more than an advertisement.
People are looking for help. They are looking for resources. They may not be ready for therapy, but they are seeking some kind of relief or information.
Think about the types of resources your prospective clients might need. If you’ve created something broader than “all about me and my services,” then a prospective client may find you because they are looking for some other resource. Information or resources for depression or anxiety, for example.
A great example of helpful content is the Beautiful Minds Mental Health Clinic website in Auburn, California. They have a page with several anonymous mental health screenings for website visitors to fill out (PHQ, GAD, PTSD, bipolar, alcohol use, drug abuse). https://beautifulmindsmedical.com/for-patients/patient-forms/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9/
If visitors find helpful information on your site, they might remember you when the time comes; when they are ready to talk to someone.
When I designed my website. I had one main goal: Help people find help, whether it was my services or not.
Tip # 2 Adding value to your website visitor’s experience shows you care about them, not just about gaining a new client.
Here are three pages that add value to your visitor’s experience. The following links are to my LCSW website which used to house only private practice information. Feel free to copy anything from these pages you find useful:
- Help Finding a Therapist – https://bonniemckeeganlcsw.net/help-finding-a-therapist/
- Crisis Lines – https://bonniemckeeganlcsw.net/crisis-warm-hotlines/
- Resources – https://bonniemckeeganlcsw.net/mental-health-resources/
The Help Finding a Therapist page was particularly handy when I had a full practice. I referenced it on my outgoing “practice full” voicemail message. People thanked me.
Pages like these add value. They tell visitors you are thinking about their needs not just advertising your services. Once you have them set up, an occasional update is all that’s needed.
Tip #3 A professional website has all the requirements for your licensing board regulations and is ADA-compliant.
Check with your legal / liability advisors for risk management advice. Every licensing board and state has regulations regarding advertising.
For example, in California these are two of the licensing board requirements:
- CA Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) Complaint Notice must be posted on your website. CA State Disclaimer: The California Board of Behavioral Sciences is the licensing entity for Social Workers in California. You may file a complaint by contacting: Board of Behavioral Sciences 1625 North Market Blvd., Suite S200, Sacramento, CA 95834 Telephone: (916) 574-7830 http://www.bbs.ca.gov
- CA BBS: Your Clinical License number must be easy to distinguish. California licensees and registrants must include all of the following information in any advertisement (https://www.bbs.ca.gov/pdf/publications/adv_guide.pdf – see PDF for examples):
- Your full name, as filed with the Board; and
- Your license or registration number; and
- Your complete title or an abbreviation deemed acceptable by the Board.
Here are two nationwide examples to think about:
- ADA Accessibility – All business websites are accountable to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/how-to-protect-your-website-against-ada-accessibility-claims For most of us, the technicalities are beyond our skill set. A website designer can help you with this.
- A disclaimer to the effect of This website does not provide medical or clinical advice.
Designing your website is a creative process. Get help if you need it, but stay in tune with what’s on your website. Spruce it up periodically.
Remember: Keep an eye out for changing regulations.
Who designed your website? Leave a comment with a link to your website and let us know who you recommend.
Nothing in this post or on this website constitutes legal or clinical advice.
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Are you an LCSW, LMFT, or LPCC new to private practice? Struggling? Check out my book over on Amazon.
The 14 Concrete (but not so hard!) Steps to Private Practice: Plus, Six More Steps to Consider – A Guide for Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Licensed Marriage Family Therapists https://a.co/d/38sa2vE.