How to Develop Niche Programs and Products
By Deb Legge, PhD, CRC, LMHC
Choosing a target market—a population that will be the focus of your work and will influence your marketing efforts—is a great step to help position your practice in your community. Along with choosing your target market, finding special things to do for your target market will help you further establish your place in the private practice community.
Most of us think about our actual clinical counseling—individual therapy, group therapy, and couples/family therapy—as the extent of how we can serve our clients. Although those services may be the primary focus of your work, you might want to take off the blinders that limit your vision of your work to the counseling dyad. Think about what other services, programs, and products you can offer your clients; things that will enhance or reinforce their traditional treatment.
Many of your clients will note that it seems like a very long time between sessions; that the 45–50 minutes you spend with them is very helpful, but they need more. You may also find that the time between sessions is limiting your clients’ work and progress. What’s the solution? If you are in private practice—you have options!
Think about what services or products might help you serve your clients best. What can you do for them (between sessions) that will reinforce or enhance your work together? If you are really aware of your “ideal client” (see last month’s article), you know what your clients need. You know the struggles they have and the desperation they feel. Use that information to inform the niche programs and products you choose to offer your clients.
Ideas for Between-Session Help
Let’s say your target market consists of clients with chronic anxiety. Your niche is using Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation, and a variety of stress management techniques to help them better manage their symptoms and reduce anxiety. Weekly or biweekly sessions are great and can be very helpful. Taking off those “blinders” might lead you to some creative additions to traditional talk-therapy.
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You might come up with a list of workbooks or books clients can use for reinforcement and support between sessions. Your clients with panic disorder might really benefit from a CD you create that includes relaxation exercises they can use each day, as well as a “talk-down” audio to use when in the middle of a panic attack.
Perhaps your target market includes adult clients with ADHD. These clients, who are struggling with organization and follow-through (along with self-denigration and criticism from others), might benefit from an accountability program that allows them to send you an email each morning defining three things they will accomplish in the day, and a follow up email in the evening letting you know how they did. You might also offer recommendations for computer programs that will help them with organization and time-management. You may even find it helpful to run a support group in which members work together between sessions (in a buddy system) for accountability.
If you want to broaden your practice to include services and products that will generate income without taking more of your face-to-face time, the possibilities are endless.
You’ll benefit from the variety of work and the increased income; your clients will benefit from your willingness to “serve” in a variety of ways.
AMHCA Private Practice Library
Getting the information and support you need on the business of private practice can help you to build a successful and sustainable business. AMHCA members are invited to log-in to AMHCA’s Private Practice Library at to read articles by Dr. Deb Legge—for members only—on the business of running a clinical mental health counseling practice:
- “Setting Your Fees” (April)
- “Getting on Insurance Panels” (March)
- “Finding Your Niche” (February)
- "Is Private Practice Really for You?” (January)