How to Build and Market Your Mental Health Practice

Linda L Lawless LMHC LMFT CGP
J. Wiley & Sons 1998

Get the help you need to continue helping those in need.

This book teaches mental health professionals to survive in the constantly changing mental health services marketplace. It provides crucial advice on how to build and run a mental health practice while serving clients and coping with the seemingly endless series of adjustments, documentation requirements, and ethical dilemmas that confront the professional today.

Successful psychotherapist and practice consultant Linda L. Lawless takes you step by step through the process of evaluating your current position, choosing a professional path, and taking decisive actions to achieve your business goals. She gives you the nuts and bolts of the business side of private practice -- including renting office space, securing referrals, billing and record keeping, and office management.

This accessible guidebook also shows you how to:

  • Market your services effectively and ethically
  • Enhance your professional reputation
  • Build a steady client referral base either inside or outside the managed care system
  • Position yourself to serve client and community needs, while building the kind of practice you want

Supplemented with dozens of sample brochures, business plans, marketing plans, and self-assessment exercises. How to Build and Market Your Mental Health Practice is the book that beleaguered therapists and counselors have been waiting for.


Book Dedication

To all the mental health professionals who are struggling to stay active in their field, in the face of a changing and sometimes unfriendly marketplace. I hope the information in this book will motivate and empower you to develop your entrepreneurial strengths. May you reach your own definition of success as a professional businessperson, and may your success facilitate the use of your hard-earned professional skills. Linda Lawless LMHC LMFT CGP

Table of Contents

1. Taking Stock of Where you Stand

Professional Developmental Stages . Work Relationship Style. Choosing Specialties. Professional Profile. Practice Assessment

2. Establishing A Practice

Professional Person Meets Businessperson = Identity Crisis. Making Your Vision a Reality Managing Your Office. Proposals, Contracts, and Fee Setting. The Business Plan

3. Analyzing Your Services: The Basket Maker's Story

What is Marketing? In the Beginning. You've Been Doing It All Along. Developing a Good Reputation. Marketing Myths. Knowing Your Market. Understanding the Consumers and the Forces That Affect Them. Why People Buy or Seek Services. The Buying Process. Market Research. Product and Service Development. Products and Services. Market Development. The Marketing River and Its Tributaries. Making a Marketing Match Using Ethical Standards. Marketing as a Way of Life. Marketing Support Groups

4 Developing A Marketing Plan

Marketing Phobia. Reframe of Marketing. Authentic Marketing. The Six Stages of Marketing Development. Getting Ready to Market. Your Marketing Plan. Checking Out How You Are Doing

5. Making the Most of Your Marketing Tools

Are you Ready for Success? . Before You Start. Start Here. The Resource Directory. Direct Mail Outreach. Direct-Mail Vehicles. Direct-Mail Packages. Mailing Lists and Databases. Advertising

6. Exercises, Worksheets and Samples

Self-Assessment Exercises

  • Work Relationship Style
  • A Success Fantasy
  • Forming a Practice Group
  • Steps in Writing a Client Proposal
  • The Story of Your Success
  • Professional Strengths
  • Business Review


  • Choosing Specialties
  • Niche Market or Ideal Client
  • Steps for Developing a Professional Biography
  • Practice Assessment and Marketing Planner
  • Budgets
  • Business Plan Outline
  • Marketing Assessment
  • Resource Directory
  • Master Mailing Schedule
  • Networking


  • Thumbnail Biography
  • Medium-Length Biography
  • Detailed Biography
  • Professional Narrative
  • Specialty Narrative
  • Benefits Statement
  • Current Practice Information Sheet
  • Agreement of Professional Association Associates
  • Partnership Agreement
  • Specialty Areas
  • Professional Letters
  • Items Included in a Brochure Layout
  • Personal Business Brochure
  • Informational Brochure
  • Specialty Brochure
  • Special Event Brochure
  • Scripts Targeted to Specific Markets
  • News Release
  • Cover Letter

Book Review

"What color is your parachute?

Armed with more than 20 years of experience as a licensed psychotherapist and a consultant, Linda Lawless sets forth the options in How to Build and Market Your Mental Health Practice.

Using a business savvy yet therapist-friendly career development model, she provides clear, step-by-step guidance for building, strengthening, or expanding a practice, either within or outside of the managed care system.

Walk into any bookstore and you'll find shelves of practical manuals devoted to career development.

But when's the last time you saw one written by a clinician wise to particular challenges facing mental health practitioners - for clinicians in the throes of a fast-paced survival game?

Taking the plunge into pragmatism

Brimming with helpful work-sheets, self-assessment exercises, and sample forms (36 in all) to help readers realistically assess their current situations and plot their next moves, Linda Lawless's accessible new guidebook will walk you through the steps of running a successful psychotherapy practice.

Logically beginning with the start-up phase of practice development, next spelling out the basics of business management, and then moving on to proven marketing and promotion strategies, How to Build and Market Your Mental Health Practice provides a wealth of level-headed advice -- from networking to mastery of the direct mail brochure - for functioning both inside and outside of the managed care system.

Emphasis throughout is on one's individual situation and goals:

Evaluating where you are (Are you most happily a "team player?" Is it time to form a partnership or develop a new specialization?)
Identifying what business tools you'll need (from mailing lists to electronic capabilities), and arriving at a coherent marketing/promotion plan.

With a separate chapter devoted to managed care, the author equips readers to tool up and thrive within the complex and increasingly competitive, third-party system. A section on strategies for transitioning out of managed care concludes the volume.

With How to Build and Market Your Mental Health Practice, "growing" your business is the least you can do."

Newbridge Communications Behavioral Science Book Service
Summer 1997 · Volume 49 · Issue 11 Pages 3-4

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