where should therapists focus?

If you’ve decided to strike out on your own, in your own private practice, congratulations! From a business perspective, you’ve made a great decision. There is, without a doubt, high demand for psychotherapy in most areas of the United States.

From urban dwellers dealing with the anxiety of their fast-paced lives to rural residents depressed by the lack of opportunities — and, of course, all the relationship issues, health concerns, and existential worry with which we all struggle — everyone could use some mental health support.

The question for a new private practice therapist like you is where exactly do you fit in?

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To Specialize or Not to Specialize

If you promote your practice as “full service” or “general services,” you may be casting too wide a net. Potential clients will see no reason to choose you over the established practices in your area.

Experts in business growth say that one of the best ways to launch a business of any type is to target an unmet need or an underserved community. They call this finding a niche. Finding your niche is one of the key strategies involved in marketing for therapists.

In the psychotherapy field, you can define your niche by targeting:

  • Distinct groups of clients.
  • Particular methodologies or forms of treatment.
  • Specific mental health challenges.

If you have received specialized mental health training, you may already have found a niche. If you’re an expert in a certain form of treatment or a particular type of client — and that area excites your interest — pursue it. Otherwise, investment in additional training and certification can pay for itself many times over.

How can you find your niche? To help start your search, here are four in-demand niches for private practice psychotherapists.

1. Hypnotherapy

What is it? Hypnotherapists use hypnotic trance as a tool to help their clients journey into their subconscious minds to find the deep-seated roots of their mental challenges. Many issues — such as depression, anxiety, and addiction — spring from long-buried emotions or repressed traumatic events.

Using a trance state, hypnotherapists help their clients get to the source of their difficulties so that they may rewire their faulty conclusions and change their behavior.

Why is it in demand? One of the most frequent complaints clients have about traditional therapy is that it can last months or years with no clear resolution. Modern therapy clients are solution-oriented. They don’t want therapy for therapy’s sake. They want to feel better and get on with their lives.

Because hypnotherapy helps clients dive deep into their minds — rather than skirting the surface with endless talk therapy — many clients find faster, longer-lasting results. Hypnotherapy is particularly effective with persistent, difficult-to-treat issues.

How can you get training/certification? The best way to learn hypnotherapy and become certified is to study with trainers with real clinical hypnotherapy experience. An institute that specializes in hypnotherapy training, provides certification, and emphasizes hands-on practice may be your best bet. To learn more about hypnotherapy training options, click here.

2. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

What is it? Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a relatively new treatment modality. It was developed in 1989 by psychologist Francine Shapiro.

Similar to hypnotherapy, EMDR targets emotional blocks stemming from trauma. But it uses a much different path to get there. EMDR practitioners follow eight phases, the centerpiece of which involves using rhythmic eye movements (or sometimes, hand-tapping or other bilateral stimulation) to help “desensitize” the patient during the recall of traumatic events and feelings.

Why is it in demand? EMDR has steadily gained in popularity over the past few decades. Studies have shown it to be at least as effective as traditional therapies — such as cognitive behavioral therapy — especially for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Patients who have not found success with CBT and other therapies may seek out EMDR for its novel approach.

How can you get training/certification? Shapiro’s EMDR Institute is the only body that trains and certifies EMDR practitioners.

3. Life Coaching

What is it? Though it is often practiced by therapists, life coaching isn’t psychotherapy, per se. Life coaches don’t look to the past, as psychotherapists often do. Nor do they help their clients overcome or cure mental health challenges.

Rather, life coaches help their clients set goals for the future and work toward achieving them in the present. Life coaches help people stay on track, just like athletic coaches do. But instead of aiming for a four-minute mile or a victory on the soccer field, life coaches help their clients aim for their best lives.

Why is it in demand? Not everyone needs or wants therapy. Adding life coaching to your services opens up your practice to clients who feel they are mentally healthy but still want more out of their lives. You can also transition psychotherapy clients into life coaching once you’ve helped them overcome their mental health issues, retaining more clients long-term.

How can you get training/certification? Although there are no legal regulations for coaching certification, clients want to be confident their coaches are steering them in the right direction. Training and certification are credentials that will demonstrate your legitimacy to potential clients.

As a therapist, you might be most interested in life coaching certification programs that integrate and build on psychological concepts, such as the power of the subconscious mind.

If you’re interested in becoming a life coach, here are four steps toward reaching your goal.

4. Treating Opioid Addiction

What is it? Opioid addiction includes the abuse of heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain medication. People often turn to opioids in the depths of despair and pain and find them difficult, if not impossible, to quit. Compassionate, expert mental health therapists can help people who are addicted to opioids get to the root of their addictions, banish their shame, and stay on the path to recovery.

Why is it in demand? The opioid crisis is a full-blown national epidemic. Over 100 Americans die each day from opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Few regions are untouched by the scourge of opioid addiction.

As a mental health professional, you have an opportunity to serve on the front lines in the fight against the opioid epidemic. It isn’t the right choice for everyone. But if you went into therapy because you felt called to make a difference in the world, it might be the right choice for you.

How can you get training/certification? There are many different approaches to treating people with opioid addiction. At the Our Solutions Recovery center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., director Rachel Greenberg has found Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy particularly effective for preventing relapses.

“The good news is Heart-Centered Therapy has been the best vehicle to help clients get to the root of their shame and release it from their subconscious minds,” Greenberg told us recently. “I know and have seen how Heart-Centered Therapy has created long-term abstinence and helped clients create new healthy ways of behaving.”

To learn more about Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy and what the training involves, click here.