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How to Increase Client Referrals for Your Private Therapy Practice

Tips to Increase Client Referrals for Your Private Practice

A lot goes into building a business and because your private practice is a business before anything else, it is no different. In fact, we think it might require even a tad bit more effort to build a successful private practice than it would your run of the mill retailer. Why? Building a successful private practice means creating a trusting and lasting connection with your clients. You’re not selling a product they can buy anywhere, you’re selling a service that is personalized to their needs. Because of this niche category that therapy services fall into, building a strategy for growth is not as clear cut as it is in other industries. However, this does not mean it’s not possible. In this post, we’re going to be outlining initiatives you can take to increase your client referrals and build a solid client referral strategy to build your private therapy practice.

Ask for Referrals

It’s simple advice, but the simplest is often the most overlooked. How do you get more referrals? Ask for them. And there is no one better to ask for referrals than your clients. They know you and trust you–that’s why they come to your practice. Make use of this resource. You probably don’t ask for referrals because you think it’s obvious that you welcome referrals at your therapy private practice. You may even have a sign on your reception desk that says “accepting new clients.” But, it’s not as obvious as you think. Avoid unnecessary confusion or missed opportunities by simply asking for the referral. Ask your clients to refer others to your private therapy practice through emails and when they are signing out of an appointment. Provide business cards or printed literature that your client can distribute to their social network, provided they feel comfortable doing so.


We’ve talked about why it’s important to select a niche for your private practice before, but we cannot stress this enough. One of the best reasons to build a private practice around a specific niche is that you can then garner more referrals. You’ll cater to a specific client. You can then be intentional about how you ask for referrals from your clients or professional networks. It’s not just, “Send me referrals.” It’s, “If you know someone who needs help with their marriage (or whatever your specific niche), then please give them my name or direct them to my website.” This helps your referral agent create a clear and unambiguous idea of what type of client you serve. Never assume that they know. Be as explicit as possible. Another benefit of specializing in a niche is that you become a specialist or an expert. People love to refer to an expert, not a generalist who may or may not be able to solve the problem. Specializing is a great way to increase referral traffic also from other therapists. When you specialize in a certain niche, other general therapists are more likely to refer clients to you if they can’t accommodate them. Specializing therefore also helps you increase therapist referrals.

Join an Online Network

Use the Internet to extend your reach beyond your local advertising efforts. Online directory websites can help you grow your private practice. Sites like and Psychology Today get over a million searches each month. Many of these searches are from people who are looking for a therapist in their area. You need to be listed on these sites because they act as referral networks. Without doing much on your end, prospective clients will be introduced to your private practice and your areas of expertise. Some of these sites are free, some are not—but when you compare the cost of a membership to how much you’ll receive from a referred client, it will probably be worth it. For example, alone has over 1.5 million searches every month and usually ranks on the first page results in Google. You should start with a profile there. Networks to consider:

Be a Resource

A good way to get the word out about your private practice and build a strong referral network to increase referral traffic is by becoming a resource for your local news and by writing about the issues in major publications. Reach out to news reporters and bloggers in your area. Find their information by searching on Twitter, Facebook, or doing a Google search for “(name of your city) news reporter contact information”. Then, follow them on their social media profiles and find opportunities to connect by adding valuable commentary to their posts. The need may not arise immediately but when it does, you’ll have established a relationship that you can build upon.

Network Offline, Too

Although the Internet is a great way to build your referral network, there’s nothing quite like face to face, handshake to handshake networking, too. Get out and greet people. Get active in your local business organizations. Become a member of your city’s chamber of commerce and then attend meetings. Most chambers of commerce host a monthly mixer—you need to be there. Perfect your “elevator pitch” so that you can explain what service(s) you offer and to whom within 30 seconds. But, as we mentioned before, be clear about what type of clients you want most. Also, visit other professionals in your local area that cater to your same ideal client base. For example, let’s say you specialize in postpartum depression counseling. It makes sense to reach out to OBGYNs and even pediatricians. Be sure to leave your business cards and other printed materials on their reception desk so that they can hand out tangible information. Also, follow-up every three to four months in person. Bring more printed materials in case they’ve run out, and simply refresh the memory of you in their minds.

Contract with Insurance Companies

While being exclusively private pay has its advantages, one of the best and most consistent ways to increase referral traffic is by contracting with an insurance company. Insurance companies are powerhouse referral networks. Your prospective client can find you by simply searching through a list of in-network providers. If you’re just starting out in private practice, entering into a contract with an insurance company can be a great way of generating referrals and immediate traffic.

Create a website and a blog

It’s important to have both a website and a blog. The two are not the same and can have a different impact on your ability to pull referrals. Let’s talk about the two individually. When you’re hoping to build referrals, it’s a good idea to send them to a website that they can search through on their own time. You’ve delivered a quick elevator pitch and handed over a business card or brochure. Now, it’s up to them to look at your website and learn more about you. Your website will act as an education portal. It’s where you discuss what you offer, how much your services cost, and the basic details of your practice, including hours of operation, address, phone number, and what insurances you accept. You also need a blog because it will help you build search engine referral traffic. You can create blog post articles on the very topics a prospective customer may be searching for, such as “adult anorexia Dallas, Texas”. Then, when someone searches for this very topic in Google or Bing, your article will return high in the search results. Blogging is also a great way to show your expertise in a subject matter. By writing meaningful content often, you can show potential clients that you know what you’re talking about. This helps build credibility and trust from the client’s perspective before you even start seeing them.

Reward Loyalty

If you’re fortunate enough to have a faithful client, acknowledge them early and often. Send “thank you for being a client” cards through snail mail, not just email, for a personal touch. Make sure to always reach out regularly to thank clients for referrals. However, when sending thanks, remember to never mention any client names in order to protect client confidentiality. Acknowledging clients for their effort will encourage them to keep referring additional clients to you. The more referrals you have, the higher the likelihood that some of those will work out. This advice also doesn’t only apply to clients, whenever someone sends you a referral, make sure to send at least a thank you card. This shows you appreciate their help and will keep the door open for future referrals as well.   TheraNest makes it easy to reward loyalty. With TheraNest, you can seamlessly track your referral traffic by both source and individual referrer right within the application. We provide advanced analytics and reporting features so you can always keep track of who referred which client when. Grow your referral network and streamline your private practice with a free trial of TheraNest today.

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