The first purpose of the Niche Specialty© listing is to help the potential client satisfy special needs. <[> The second is to help the counselor to market special skill or knowledge.
Adding a Niche Specialty© is an option available while creating your Counseling Profile/Listing. If you identify a specialty area, you will be given space to further elaborate or clarify to your target audience.
FOR THE CONSUMER: The counselor “Niche Specialty©" listing on CounselingWashington.com is a client issue that the counselor self-declares as an area of special interest and expertise (out of all the client problems the counselor works with).
The counselor usually selects a Niche Specialty because the counselor feels best prepared in this area by training and experience, because the counselor has been very successful in working with this problem in the past, and because the counselor has a special interest in working with this client problem. The Niche Specialty should be in an area of counselor competency by education and experience, but it does not indicate that the counselor has completed a formal internship or residency, such as might be found in the medical community.
FOR THE COUNSELOR: This is your opportunity to do some targeted marketing. Please think of your niche specialty--whatever it is--as being one of the main ways to set yourself apart from all the other counselors in the area.
Think of the potential client who turns to the telephone Yellow Pages to find a counselor. The client finds a long list of counselor names--each followed by mysterious initials and a telephone number. To the consumer it looks like: "Sam Jones, ZP, NOLLP, ROL, SOR, (206) 555-7532." [These are nonsense initials, but that’s what they look like to people who aren’t familiar with professional designations.] The potential client thinks, “What do these stupid initials mean? Does this Sam Jones work with my kind of problem? Does he work near where I live or work?”
To assist the consumer in the search for a counselor, CounselingWashington.com gives the consumer (1.) a dictionary of professional initials. (2.) The therapist locator help potential clients find counselors with offices near where they live or work and provides a summary of the counselors qualifications, including their "general areas of practice." This tells most clients exactly what they want to know.
Finally, for those counselors who wish to list one, the option of identifying a “Niche Specialty” gives a counselor one more way to set him/herself apart and to promote a special interest or skill in dealing with a particular client problem.
Please note that a Niche Specialty statement should be relatively brief and is intended to deal with various aspects of one problem, and is not a place to list all the different client problems you work with. Niche Specialty statements are short and focused so that clients can scan them quickly to determine the scope and nature of the specialty and the gender and geographic location of the counselor.
Think of the client problems that you started working with in your practicum or internships, your various jobs in the mental health field, and your private practice, and decide what ONE client problem you most enjoy and feel well qualified to work with. Or, think of the niche specialty in terms of ONE particular client problem that you would like to work with more often. Express that problem in "client language"--so that the client can search for and find your listing.
Ask yourself what type of client is most likely to have this problem?--[men, women, adolescents?] How can you word your specialty listing to set you apart from all the other counselors? Your niche specialty listing should meet common client needs and help make you unique and sought-after within your geographic counseling area.
You don't need to decide what your specialty is yet. If you want to develop a niche specialty to include in your listing, just indicate this when you send in the information form for your private practice listing. You and I can talk by phone or email; I will take your ideas and do some web research and then get back to you with my recommended wording. [It's important to use wording that clients actually use in search engines when searching for counselors.] There is no additional charge to add a Niche Specialty listing to your "basic listing."
As webmaster of CounselingWashington.com, my job is helping counselors succeed in their counseling private practices by helping clients find the right counselor for their needs. Contact us, if I can be of help.
See How It Works: Counselor locator page: "Finding a Counselor or Therapist by Niche Specialty"
Floyd Else, MA, LMHC, NCC, MAC, Webmaster
Niche Specialty: Example 1:
One of our counselors, Hazel Johnson, spent years becoming qualified as a movement therapist. She then wanted to list her niche specialty as "movement therapist." I tried to dissuade her, knowing that no potential client was going to say, "Wow, I have this awful problem. I need to find a movement therapist!" But reluctantly, I listed it.
The next month at the SCA meeting, Hazel stood up to introduce herself and tell us about her practice. In conclusion she said, "Just send me your angry adolescent boys. I love working with them!"
I thought, "That's it! That's her specialty!
So, Hazel's specialty moved to the category "Children and Adolescents" under the niche specialty "Angry adolescent boys and girls." You would never believe how many parents were looking for someone to work with their angry child. But that doesn't mean this is the only type of client who came to see Hazel. Hazel could have listed her specialty as "Anger issues" or "Anger management." But that would have brought her the wrong clients. She wanted more of her work to be with "Angry adolescent boys and girls."
[ Hazel has since moved out of the area. ]
Niche Specialty: Example 2:
Before my recent retirement from active counseling activities, my personal "niche specialty" was, "Relationship advice and counseling for men who are having a problem establishing or maintaining stable intimate love relationships."
You start out with the general area and work toward a specific defined niche: everybody > adults only > men > men with relationship problems > men who can't start or keep up a stable intimate love relationship. The definition gets more and more narrow. But is the final result still a category into which many clients fit? Of course it is.
But I also had my "General Areas of Practice" statement, and I continued to work with other categories of clients with other types of problems.
A lot of counselors are fearful of identifying a Niche Specialty, worrying that they will be reducing their client base. However, the most successful counselors are those who develop a niche and become well known for their knowledge. Pick an area and focus on it. Attend trainings. Read related books and publications.
Then there will come a time when YOU are doing the training sessions for others and YOU are writing the books. You may need to hire other counselors to help you with the client load and end up running an agency.
But you need to start somewhere. Start now by picking your "Niche Specialty©" on CounselingWashington.com
Floyd Else, MA, LMHC, webmaster.