Posts Tagged ‘creativity and marketing’

How do you demystify the therapy process for clients?

April 6th, 2011

By Christine Smith

Guest Feature Article Author: Christine Smith, LICSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice since 1990 and currently works with families in Nantucket MA, specializing in martial and couple issues, family stress, struggling teens, child behavioral problems. With her extensive psychiatric experience she is currently on-call at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital for psychiatric emergencies. http://nantucketfamilycounseling.com/

It seems that everyone wants to know what goes on inside the therapist’s office. People secretly wonder if a session resembles a chapter from Sybil, untamed and insane. Movies, television and reality series often try to depict the scene, with an awkward resemblance of accuracy, but somehow always missing the mark.  Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew attract a huge audience; even I am drawn to the drama as they delve into families’ lives inside the screen in my living room, rushing through treatment with five commercial interruptions.

People nervously crack a joke if I am introduced at a party as a “therapist”, quick to point to their friend standing next to them stating, “This guy really needs your help”. Men in white coats, Prozac moments, loony tunes; all flip verbiage said with an uncertain tone by people who secretly wonder if they too are a little crazy. Like I am a clairvoyant that can see right through them . . .  analyze this. And although I am one of the silliest girls around, I never can quite bring myself to laugh. I guess one doesn’t laugh at their passions.

I have been in therapy for over thirty years now. I do this for a living, everyday, hour after hour. To me, it is serious business. Taking a stranger in, staying right there with them, as they take the first incredible step to put their crumbling life back together. It’s hard to describe what happens on the proverbial couch, every person so different, some situations tragic, others not so much.

People do not come to therapy when things are going well. Usually, the person feels as if it’s pretty much the end of their world. Hopeless, helpless, in unbearable pain, a bottomless pit . . . the term “depressed” falls short of an adequate description. Discovery of a spouses’ infidelity, a child’s drug addiction, cancer, a friend’s betrayal, alcohol or drug abuse, loss of a job, financial worries, death, and a hundred other scenarios, lead them to me. None of the stories or the feelings are ever quite the same.

As a therapist, I spend countless hours sitting with my patients, listening, talking, reflecting and just being. Sometimes I touch their shoulder, their hand, pass them the box of tissues or make them a cup of tea. In the sanctity of my office, we talk about what it feels like to live, what it would feel like to die and what it would feel like to make a dartboard out of their nemesis’ face. We talk about who would attend their funeral, who they are going to call today when they need a friend and why their ex-husband never really looked good with gray hair. I have painted little girls’ nails, put hair spray on a chemo wig and scrubbed makeup off a gothic teenager. Some bring in their dogs, their kids, their parents, while others have only their plain loneliness to offer. I have sat in silence, in tears or in laughter. It’s all a little crazy. Hour upon hour, as the healing process for those most wounded is indeed the slowest. It sometimes drags and it can be dark. Indeed a black hole. I can’t leave that space they are in, because I have signed on to hang in with them. A lot of people in their lives have bailed because of it. It’s a fine line between helping someone with toxicity and absorbing it yourself.  I think, “Is this person ever going to get better?”

And the answer is, yes, they invariably do. Not with all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, but by the will to survive and an inner strength that therapy helped them access. When the bleakness lifts, it’s as if they bring in a little more light each time they walk into my office and sit on that couch. I slowly begin to see a twinkle in their eye, a glow, a spark, although fragile and tenuous, emerging.

This, for me, is the magic of therapy. It saves people’s lives. All of the conversations that we have had, most with no immediate results, begin to add up and overtake the faulty oppressive thoughts that first brought them into my office. They begin to make sense, notice other people, and look forward again. They can now laugh at situations as well as themselves. Truthfully, life can be ridiculously funny. They no longer think about dying, because they have too much living to do.

Their need for time with me begins to dwindle and they are able to connect with me now only every other week, every month, and finally, “I’ll call you if I need you”. Said hesitantly at first, most are somewhat sad to say goodbye.  Occasionally, sometimes years later, I do run into someone at the store or on the street. The most common reaction is a big hug, smile and a “great to see you”. I can barely remember the shadow of that soul that I first encountered in my office. But it is the same person. Just whole again. It is amazing.

This is therapy.

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The secret ingredient you may be missing…

December 15th, 2010

… establishing your expertise and credibility in your community, and beyond with Public Relations. You see, as an expert you are well respected, you’re seen as the ‘go to person’ when a problem arises, and you are sought out for your specialized knowledge, and paid more too! Plus, when you establish the unique solution that you offer, you separate yourself from all the other healers and helpers, and there truly is no competition.

Public Relations can be seen as the gift of maintaining relationships between your business and your potential clients. PR allows your message to be delivered by an objective third party, therefore it’s given more credibility and authority than a paid marketing message.

Healers and helpers will spend countless hours honing their gifts, and working directly with their clients, but they often put this essential marketing ingredient on the back burner.

1. Before you launch a PR campaign you need to be clear on your area of expertise. You can’t begin to launch a marketing campaign if you don’t know where to direct your efforts. Once you get clear on you area of expertise (and the unique solution that you offer), then you can start to spice up your marketing efforts and know exactly where to spend your time and money to reach your clients.

2. You’ve got your website and blog to further establish your expertise and credibility, now where else can you share your knowledge? Use PR to help you connect with the media and share solutions to problems that their listeners/readers may be having. You can connect with newspapers, radio shows, forums, magazines (offline and online), other bloggers, video interviews, ezines, podcasts, etc to share your message. Remember, target your PR efforts to a specific population, and the problem that you solve, and then you’ll be crystal clear where to find your ideal audience.

3. Great, you’ve identified a perfect resource, now what? Use your skills as a healer and helper to think in terms of service. How can you provide a potential reporter, blogger, or radio host with the easiest way to share a really valuable story with their readers/listeners? Send out a press release with a very catchy title or send a brief email that offers something of service to the person/organization you are contacting. Think in terms of how to help them out, versus wanting them to help you.  The easier you make their job, the more likely they will use your content.

4. Keep a press kit ready to go. When someone asks me to speak at an event or for an interview I have a system in place to easily retrieve all the necessary information, quickly. Since most reporters are working on a tight timeframe, having these marketing materials on hand is essential. You can have a link to these on your website. Make sure you include in your press kit: A short (200 words) biography, including the clients you work with and how you help them (and a free offer to direct them to your website). Also include a headshot, an up-close professional photo, articles about you and other media coverage, and links to online videos and podcasts.

5. Ask- Yes, it’s that simple! Ask your friends, family, and media personnel if you can share your gifts. It’s amazing what happens when you start to ask. I asked my local books store to carry my book, and we ended up having a signing event in front of the store. From there it was easy to promote the event to the local newspaper with a press release.

6. Be creative, playful, and fun in the process. Shine your unique message and brand in your PR! I wanted to promote my business and get the “word out” that children can use their creativity to solve their melt-downs, shut downs and tantrums. Being the Creativity Queen I wanted it to reflect my Brand of playful possibilities, so I donned my “Royal Attire” and showed up at the reading festival, book signing events, and arts day promoting my book. I stood out, sold lots of books, and more importantly became ‘recognized’ for the creative work I do. You may not necessarily need to wear tights, but thinking outside of the box, and in alignment with your message (and brand) will help you create lots of f*ree PR for your business, and these days that’s a special ingredient we all should be adding to our businesses!

Do you need some help identifying your area of expertise and specialization so you can begin your PR campaign? Click here to learn about the Superfabulicious Holiday Extravaganza, and save 50% off of the Niche and Fill My Practice audio training program. Don’t worry, you don’t have to don tights to enjoy these savings!

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What are you creating for your business in the new year?

January 4th, 2010

IMG_1475Are you tired of working either in your own business or working for an agency and you feel stressed out, burned out, or just plain unfulfilled?

Maybe the new year solidified your commitment to move forward in your business, and finally have the practice you love! Wonderful, but where do you begin? There’s so much information out there and it can often feel overwhelming because you don’t know what to do, and most importantly, what to do first!

Here’s my recommendation, before you try to figure out what to do first- go and have some creative fun. Yes, go and play! It is when we play and create space for exploration is when we get to explore what we desire to grow into. So go and get some magazines and cut out images of what you desire to create for 2010. Here’s my collage for 2010 and what I am choosing to grow into in the new year.

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