What now?

“You will have many more opportunities once you obtain your LPC.” I heard this over and over again as an LPC-Intern. I was excited for these opportunities, but what were they exactly? More pay? A promotion? My own private practice? During this time of transition, I was unsure what this meant for me and unfortunately, no job miraculously landed in my lap. I had to apply, research, and then apply some more. However, this process taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted to do.

Here are some tips to consider based on what I learned when looking for work…

Know what you want

We all start somewhere and all have to “pay our dues”.

Several of my internship jobs were unpaid and I traveled all over the city to gain experience and hours. This was a very frustrating and overwhelming time for me; however, it paid off. I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted. This was specifically important as I learned what population I want to work with, the hours I feel comfortable working, and where I wanted to work.

Think about the work you are doing…is it what you want? Are you working with the populations and issues your are most interested in?  Are you working the hours you want? Are you working where you want to work? If you answered no to any of these questions, take some time to reevaluate your wants.

It is possible to work where you want, as soon as you figure out what it is that you want.

Do your research

This step is very important. Consider this task to be your job when your are trying to plan your next move. Researching and obtaining information about training, job prospects, and/or a potential employer are incredibly important.  Don’t expect things to be laid out for you.  You must be prepared.

Start this task by researching potential places of employment as well as the questions you want to ask. For example, if having benefits such as medical insurance are a necessity, then take the time to write down the important questions you have about the company’s benefits. When prepared with knowledge from the research done and questions in hand, you will appear organized which could possibly increase your marketability.  Plus being prepared will make your decision making process easier.

Research should also be done when looking to expand your education and training. Find out how additional education and training would benefit you and your career. Don’t trust the guidance of a colleague whom may not know what is best for you—you know what is best for you and the responsibility falls on you to know what you are doing.

Bottom line, research, research, research any and all opportunities.

Make yourself marketable

In a market full of LPC’s and limited job opportunities, the best way to set yourself apart is to market yourself. There is only one you. People are buying into you, so make yourself a high commodity. I did this at my last place of employment. Among 10 LPC’s and LPC-Intern’s, I was one of three counselors who saw children for counseling. There was a large need for counselors to see children there; therefore, I had a busy schedule and job security.

To make yourself a high commodity, review your wants and do your research. Are you an expert at anything? Do you speak another language? Is there a need for a service that no one else is providing? These are the things that will help you to stand out. Market your differences to your current or future employer in order to stand out from the crowd. This goes a long way in the counseling field. If you are the only one providing a particular service, prepare yourself for referrals and a busy schedule.

Network

So you know what you want, have done your research, and made yourself marketable, now is the time to network with your people. Your people are the people with whom you know and have connections with. This is the easiest way to find out about jobs and training opportunities. Tell your people when you are looking for work. More often than not, they will know about someone hiring or about an awesome training course to participate in. I know I have heard about job opportunities from my people several times because they are supportive and interested in helping me reach my goals. I encourage you to create a supportive network to connect with. This is an easy and important way to learn about job and training opportunities.

If this is not possible for you, consider using the internet to network with other counselors. A good starting place is our blog and Facebook page, SA Counselors Networking Group. Here we provide support and guidance to LPC-Interns and LPC’s. However, don’t stop with us. Look to network with other professionals in various fields online and/or in person. To find more networking groups on Facebook, click on find new groups and type in the type of group you are looking to network with.

Create it yourself

And if all else fails, create it yourself.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it yourself.” –Unknown

If what you want is not out there, I encourage you to create it yourself. There are many more opportunities available when you create what you want. A colleague of mine splits her time between two cities, counseling and writing books. She does not sit in an office all day or have traditional work hours. This may not work for you, but it works for her. It allows her the opportunity to make money, travel, and do what she wants.

Getting out there and creating what you want is possible. It takes a lot of hard work and it can happen for you. We did just that with the SA Counselors Networking Group. The three of us needed support while obtaining our LPC-Intern hours. What we received in return has been more than we anticipated. We started with three members and have grown to over 600 members. We now have the support and guidance we need at our fingertips. If you are interested in creating your own networking group, read more here.

Know that it is possible to create what you want and make your dream job a reality.

Best of luck to you on your job search.

Tracy Cooper, LPC

P.S. If you have any tips that you have found to be helpful when looking for a job, please share them with us all by leaving a comment. We appreciate your feedback.

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5 surefire ways to market yourself and your practice

marketing-roadmap

How many of you hate marketing? To tell you the truth, marketing is my least favorite thing to do. There are so many components to marketing that it makes a novice business person, like myself, struggle to grasp the least and most important concepts of marketing to pursue.

Also counseling does not prepare us for the business side of our profession. I often hear, “why didn’t we learn this in graduate school?”  I agree, why wasn’t this taught to us? Nonetheless, not learning this in graduate school has forced me to learn this on my own. This process has not only taught me how to market, but it has taught me about the guaranteed and total busts when marketing.

In an effort to help my fellow colleagues, I have put together a list of reliable ways to market yourself and private practice and reduce your time spent on ineffective marketing strategies. Below are 5 surefire ways to market yourself and practice:

1)      Create a website

Let’s face it most of our clients will find us online. Therefore, having a well designed and easy to navigate website is essential.

A website is an effective form of marketing. This is your online “elevator speech” as it allows your clients to learn more about you and your counseling practices.

If you do not already have a website, do not go another day without a website. If you are unsure how to create a website, click here to learn how.

2)      Brand your practice

Why is this important you ask? Well, our clients are surrounded by choices, so to set yourself apart from other counselors, you must brand yourself and your practice.

Branding is a great way to promote the recognition of your practice. This can be done by developing a niche. Since I am still in the process of developing my niche, I do not have all the answers on how to do this, so check out this article to learn more about developing a niche.

Another way to brand your practice is to create a logo. Having a logo will help with brand awareness.  An example of an effective branding company is Target. When you see the dog with a red bullseye you are aware of the company the brand represents, which is Target.

Not sure how to come up with a logo? Check out website, http://www.designcrowd.com/, to assist you in making a logo that fits your needs. Don’t forget to put your logo on all of your marketing swag—business cards, forms, website, email signage, and etc.

3)      Start a blog

If you are like me, you may think, “A blog is not for me. What would I have to share and or write about on a blog?” The answer is lots! A blog is a wonderful way to connect on a more personal level with your current and future clients. Blogs also provide a way to engage and help your clients as well as bring more traffic to your website.

If you want to start a blog, but are struggling with what content to write about, join Julie Hank’s blog challenge.  Julie comes up with the topics for you —what’s easier than that?  So are you in? I am. Check out my blog here.

4)      Join an online therapy directory

Online therapy directories are a widely used online marketing tool for therapists. These directories are easy to set up and helpful in attracting clients and creating an online presence. Some online directories that generate a lot of traffic and clients are Psychology Today and Good Therapy. If you are already on these directories and are looking for more online therapy directories, click here.

If you need help with writing your professional profile, check out our blog post here with helpful tips.

5)      Network

The single most effective way to get new clients is when they are recommended by others. Creating and keeping clients is all about developing and maintaining your business relationships. The better you nurture those relationships, the stronger your practice will become. What are you doing to better your business relationships? How often do you network with other counselors? This is important and can be done in several ways to include joining a networking group and or becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions for other marketing strategies, please share them with us all by leaving a comment in the box below!

Happy Marketing!

Tracy Cooper, MA, LPC-Intern

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Pilot Peer Group

masterscommunitycounseling

We have found interaction with peers through our networking group to be an invaluable experience and would like to increase the interaction by creating a small peer group.

What is a small peer group? A small peer group is a closed group with 6 to 8 members that meet bi-weekly or monthly to discuss case consultations, marketing strategies, resources and more.

I am a member of a peer support group in Dallas. This group has been beneficial to me because it has provided me with consistent guidance and support from tenured counselors. Through participation in this peer group, I have learned about community agencies, employment opportunities, client and professional resources, helpful trainings, and marketing strategies.

An additional component of the peer support group, which has been important to my growth, is the discussion of case consultations. These discussions have provided me with a new perspective as well as potential interventions to be used.

Finally, we arrange for additional training as needed, which may include hiring professionals and or demonstrating interventions during our meetings. For instance, together we decided that ethics training was necessary; therefore, we hired a lawyer and debriefed on ethics, private practice forms, subpoenas, and more.

The SA Counselors Networking Group is planning to create a small peer group, which will start as a pilot group. The pilot group will allow for discussion of case consultations, marketing strategies, private practice questions, and more.

If interested in being a part of our pilot group, please email us at sacounselors@gmail.com your name, title, and availability.

We hope to hear from you and have you as a member of our small peer support group!

Best Regards,

Tracy Cooper, MA, LPC-Intern

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Helpful tips to writing a professional profile

If you are thinking of or are in the process of creating a profile on a therapy directory such as Psychology Today here are some helpful tips to creating a professional profile that attracts clients:

  • Describe your philosophy about counseling. Ask yourself, “What are my beliefs about counseling?”

Share your beliefs about counseling without focusing on your academic and professional achievements. A potential client is usually not too interested in your achievements, but rather focused on how counseling may be helpful and or if you can help.

  • Describe your counseling approach. Ask yourself, “How do I help people?”

Make sure to talk in everyday terms to potential clients; try and avoid going deep on theory. As a reminder, most clients are unaware of counseling theories and approaches.

  • Describe your target population. Ask yourself, “Who do I help?” or “Who do I want to help?”

Again make sure to talk in everyday terms to potential clients; most clients are unaware of diagnoses. If possible try and avoid the use of the word “client” or “patient”.  For example, “I help people who feel depressed.”

  • List your fee. Ask yourself, “What are my services worth?”

Make sure to list your fee, insurances you accept, and or if you work on a sliding scale.

  • Share your contact information.

Make sure to list your phone #, email, and website. If you do not have a website, I strongly encourage you to create one. This is another way for a client to get to know you better. Check out my previous post here about creating a website.

Most importantly, be yourself!  Share who you are, what you do, and how you can help.

Need to see an example of these tips, check out our profiles. Click on our names below to see each of our profiles.

Tracy Cooper

Tiffany Frias

Virginia Gonzales

If you have any questions or need help writing your profile, leave a comment and I will respond to you as soon as possible. Also if you have any helpful professional profile writing tips, please share-we want to hear from you!

Good luck and please share your completed professional profile with us!

Tracy Cooper, MA, LPC-Intern

Happy Thoughts

Happy

During a recent search for positive affirmations on the internet, I came across this simple yet profound statement, “Think Happy. Be Happy.” This statement has stuck with me for weeks. The more I say, “Think Happy. Be Happy.” the more tangible this has become… I believe “happiness” found me. In other words, I have become more aware of things that make me happy such as a quote on my Lululemon bag, a workout at 5AM, and coffee.

What makes you happy?

The idea that to think something is to be something is relevant…It works! This may not be a new concept for you if you practice positive psychology. Nevertheless, we may encourage, practice and suggest this or similar ideas to clients while at times neglecting to take the time to do this for our self. Now, if you frequently practice positive self talk and or regularly maintain self care…I applaud you! For the rest of us that maybe struggle with this, I encourage you to “Think Happy. Be Happy.”

Let me know how this works for you…Did “happiness” find you?

Best Regards,

Tracy Cooper, MA, LPC-Intern

Website building…

I decided to start a website (insert excitement here)! Unfortunately, starting a website has been far less exciting than I thought and more overwhelming than anticipated. As a novice website builder, I was unaware of what was needed to start a website. Through research, I learned that I need a webhost, website design, and domain name. This is a lot to consider when starting a website; therefore, I thought I would document the process in hopes that you will have an easier time when creating your website.

Below are the steps needed to create a website:

  1. Find a webhost. Webhosting is where you keep your webpage. The purpose of having a webhost is to ensure that your website is available all the time, anytime.
  2. Create a domain name. A domain name is your website address. Here is an example of a domain name: www.lpcinterncounselor.com. It is recommended that you choose a domain name ending with .com as it is easier to locate on the internet.
  3. Pick a website design. Most website builder sites will include multiple options and templates.

In an effort to help you obtain your website needs, I have reviewed the following sites for webhost, domain name, and website design information:

  1. Catalyst Theme– offers website builder/design for $127 (onetime fee)
  2. TherapySites- offers website design and hosting for $59/month
  3. GoDaddy– offers domain names, hosting, and website design-prices vary due to different package options
  4. GoogleSites– offers pre-built templates for web design and hosting for FREE
  5. Wix– offers web design and hosting for FREE
  6. Bluehost– offers web hosting and domain names for $6.95/month
  7. Domain– offers domain names for $9.99

If you’re interested in what I chose, I decided to create my website through Wix and obtain a domain name through domain.com.

If you are a LPC-Intern and are planning to create a website, the board has a few requirements that must be included. Here are the requirements for your consideration:

Rule 681.52 (e) All billing documents for services provided by an LPC Intern shall reflect that the LPC Intern holds a temporary license and is under supervision. On all advertisements, billings and announcements of counseling treatment by an LPC Intern, the intern’s name shall be followed by the name of the supervisor in the same type size and font.

Hope this information was helpful for you when creating your website. If you have already created a website and have tips to share we would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my blog post and happy website building!

Tracy Cooper, MA, LPC-Intern