As a therapist or counselor, you face challenges when marketing yourself online. Ethical standards sometimes prevent mental health providers from using the same strategies other industries enjoy. Despite this, online reviews for counseling practices continue to be some of the most efficient tools for marketing.
Our team at Aspire Digital Solutions put together this guide explaining why these resources are essential for your therapy practice.
Challenges of Online Reviews
Client reviews and testimonials are crucial to any digital marketing strategy, but therapists and counselors have unique challenges in gathering reviews for their businesses:
- Even your most satisfied client may not want to make their mental health care public by leaving a review.
- Therapy is not always a smooth, pleasant experience for clients. The challenges of their growth process could lead to negative reviews for your practice.
- Social workers, counselors, and family therapists cannot ask clients to leave reviews because of ACA regulations.
The review process gets tricky when ethics and consent interfere with your online strategies, but there are ways to source genuine (and legal) reviews to help you grow your practice and get new clients in the door.
Importance of Online Reviews
Online reviews are a great way to boost your practice’s credibility and brand recognition. Many online therapy services succeed because clients voluntarily promote these businesses through social media, Google, and other channels.
Furthermore, online reviews influence the decisions of over three-quarters of internet users. People are more likely to invest in a practice with multiple five-star ratings. Google ranks mental health care providers higher when they achieve these scores.
However, these are just the advantages of having positive reviews. Consider the impact that negative comments have on your business.
Your counseling practice can suffer online from bad reviews. Some clients may leave disappointing testimonials if they struggle with treatment. Take the time necessary to generate professional responses that show you care.
You can’t control everything people post online. Still, deleting negative comments is risky and, in most cases, unethical. Leave them up and focus on providing customer service that facilitates a positive image for your practice.
About the ACA Ethics Code and How It Applies to Reviews
Let’s clarify what ethics regulations exist around advertising your practice. The ACA provides specific guidelines for counselors.
For example, the ACA Code of Ethics C.3.b. dictates:
“Counselors who use testimonials do not solicit them from current clients, former clients, or any other persons who may be vulnerable to undue influence. Counselors discuss with clients the implications of and obtain permission for the use of any testimonial.”
To summarize, clients may only submit online reviews for counseling practices voluntarily. Additionally, the National Board for Certified Counselors states that you cannot solicit testimonials from former clients until the second anniversary of the end of their care.
Failing to adhere to these rules may cause your practice to incur severe penalties. Furthermore, significant violations may prevent you from legally offering mental health services.
Ethical Differences Between a Therapy Practice and a Counseling Practice
Despite many people mistaking them as synonymous, a therapy practice adheres to different ethical guidelines than a counseling practice.
The ACA Code of Ethics provides specific solicitation guidelines for counselors. However, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Code of Ethics does not make these considerations for marriage and family therapists. Having the wrong information could jeopardize your business.
You can avoid unnecessary problems by investing in the proper help. A professional digital marketing expert will engage with online users on your behalf and provide personalized solutions to ensure that your practice complies with ethical codes.
Highlighting the Best Online Reviews for Therapists
Many businesses choose to feature positive testimonials on their websites. This strategy is a great way to boost a website’s SEO score. However, mental health practices generally avoid highlighting online reviews for therapists.
Be aware that laws and ethics vary between states and medical fields. To some, featured reviews may appear solicited, even when they are not.
Focus on amplifying your Google reviews and linking social media accounts to your website. These solutions create an effective digital pipeline for new clients.
How Therapists Can Obtain Reviews
So, how do you obtain online reviews for counseling practices? You can develop a plan for success while still keeping the above information in mind. Let’s take a look at some proven strategies that apply to your online therapy platform:
1. Set Up a Business Profile to Facilitate Reviews
Clients can’t leave reviews if they don’t know where to find them. Build a Google My Business profile and keep your company information updated.
Yelp is another valuable service to consider. Post a “check-in offer” to view user activity. Engage professionally with visitors when they use this feature. You can even offer them free resources, like mental health literature, to build trust.
2. Post URLs and Profiles at Your Mental Health Practice
Your brick-and-mortar location can be an excellent vehicle to drive traffic toward your online spaces.
While you can’t directly ask for feedback, you can guide customers to your online therapy platforms with door signs. Consider leaving friendly messages around the office that say, “Did you know we are active on Google Places?” or “We score high on Yelp.”
These messages don’t ask or coerce patients to leave reviews but inform them about where to go.
3. Engage with Your Social Media
Responding publicly with ethical customer service is a great way to draw positive attention. People are more likely to leave online reviews for counseling practices when they feel personally connected to the business.
Hire a marketing assistant to ensure that your mental health practice stays within ethical bounds during every post.
4. Leave Positive Online Reviews for Psychologists and Business Partners
It may seem superficial, but leaving a good review for a colleague or business partner can yield positive results. Just be sure never to solicit or write fake reviews. The Federal Trade Commission targets practices that forge testimonials
Writing online reviews for psychologists also helps you build new relationships with leaders in your field.
5. Offer Additional Benefits or Services to Clients
Typically, the more benefits and services your practice offers, the better reviews you receive. We understand that this option is not always feasible for every business model. Still, you can provide cost-efficient merchandise or schedule community events to boost your reputation.
For example, these solutions could include offering free cups and koozies. Experiment with different options and monitor your responses.
Positive online reviews for therapists yield greater rewards than many realize. Still, modern ethics require counselors to navigate their digital marketing carefully to achieve results.
If you don’t have the time or resources to manage these strategies independently, outsource the work. Aspire Digital Solutions is a reliable online marketing firm built on trust. We understand the challenges that therapists face when growing their practices.
Our team utilizes modern tools and years of wisdom to boost our clients’ performance in the digital space. Additionally, we provide comprehensive web design, SEO, and branding services to enhance their visibility in the search engine.
We take the time to understand your practice and develop customizable solutions.
Don’t fall behind on your marketing. Contact Aspire Digital Solutions in Ridgefield, CT. Call 475-250-1135 to learn more about online reviews for counseling practices.