Hi, I am Licia Ginne, Psy.D., MFT a licensed marriage and family therapist and also known as the Therapy Marketing Coach. For the past 27 years I have run a successful private practice in Santa Monica, California. To be accurate it wasn’t always successful I put in hours talking to people, taking marketing classes for therapists and not many were around for therapists in the early 1980’s, read marketing books and eventually collaborated with an MFT Intern who did marketing and graphic design for magazines and we put together our marketing workshop. Last year I closed up my practice and have moved to Santa Cruz, California where i am now developing a new private practice along with continuing my consultation in practice development.
My therapy practice is strictly fee for service based, I removed myself from all insurance panels over 15 years ago and have been fortunate to have an overflow of referrals that I refer out or at times have had another therapist working for me. I have learned how to develop and build my practice and create a web presence that has a successful organic ranking with the search engines (SEO). I do consultation and training in practice development, marketing, creating an online presence and website development.
Like most of us I didn’t start start out in private practice, I worked part time in treatment programs and hospitals. I started my private practice with a friend, we rented office space when neither of us had any clients but like in the movie “Field of Dreams”, we believed if you build it they will come. What we didn’t consider was that we would have to do a bit of marketing to let everyone know we were ready.
In the mid 80’s there was a fear or belief that if you didn’t get on the insurance bus you might be pushed out of the market place. At that time I thought why not, I went to work for someone who’s counseling center was on most of the panels and as an employee of her’s she could have me added to the panels. I also joined an IPA (independent practice association).
At that time the reimbursement rate was $60.00 an hour for a Master’s level person for most contracts. When Managed Health Network (MHN) lowered their rate from $60 to $50, I started to wonder if it was worth it. I had been on the panels for about 10 years and not once was there a cost of living raise or any raise at all. I called all the panels I was on and requested a raise based on length of service and was denied by all of them. I spent a long time considering the pros and cons and speaking with colleagues and friends about the risk of leaving the panels. The reimbursement rate was slightly more than half of my full fee and any client that came to me and had that insurance I would have to accept the contracted rate, even if they wanted to pay my full fee. It was a hard decision but I prepared my clients for my withdrawal from all the panels and began the process of sending out letters of resignation. It was the best decision I made and I lost only one client in the process.
1995 I started doing marketing workshops. Actually by nature I am a shy person and wanted to find alternative ways of developing a practice where I didn’t have to meet so many new people. Through the years I have experimented with various approaches to marketing and find business development and marketing change with the times and location. In the beginning it was giving free talks at the Library and now its the web, social media, networking and yes, still many of the old tried and true ways, the best approach is using a mixture of them all and finding what works best for you.
I had always realized that marketing was as much a part of my business as seeing clients but that I had to step up the process and to think more of my work as a business. I started to streamline my practice, invest in practice management software and rethink my networking. Its been a long road of learning, at times frustrating and other times amazing. What I learned is you can’t do it alone, takes a lot of support and help. I have colleagues that might go with me to a networking meeting. I have people who can proofread materials for me. I am always asking for support and assistance and realize it has become a collaborative effort.