Business Success for Therapists

Practice building strategies to reach more clients and help more people.

The Miracle Question for Your Business...

Want to help more clients?

I'm a huge raving fan of the miracle question. If you are familiar with solution-focused therapy, the you've likely used the miracle question.

Here's a common version of it:

"Suppose our meeting is over, you go home, do whatever you planned to do for the rest of the day. And then, some time in the evening, you get tired and go to sleep. And in the middle of the night, when you are fast asleep, a miracle happens and all the problems that brought you here today are solved just like that. But since the miracle happened overnight nobody is telling you that the miracle happened. When you wake up the next morning, how are you going to start discovering that the miracle happened? ... What else are you going to notice? What else?"

As a true Creativity Queen I've been known to pull out a wand and have practice-building clients playfully embrace the role of playing "what if" in their business. It allows for some expansive ideas of what's possible in the work you do, like creating a book you always desired, or offering a workshop or presentation of your creative ideas.

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There are several stages that businesses go through as they grow and expand, and the miracle question allows you to explore what you desire to create. Let's look at the different stages of business, so you can see what's next for you (and perhaps see that the miracle is not that far from where you are).

Stage 1: You are in the set-up stage and you are either just about to launch your business, or you recently have launched. During this phase your miracle question likely will be about reaching new clients and welcoming them into your business. During this stage you are working on the basics for your business, such as setting up your space, making sure you have all the necessary legal paperwork as a business entity, and building referral resources. You may have created some business cards and brochures, and you're looking at creating a website sometime soon.

Here's what is essential during this stage: getting clear on who you help and how you help them, so you know where to best target your marketing efforts and begin creating referral connections. You'll also be building systems at this time, so you have paperwork in place and a system on how you connect with clients when they call you. Your "miracle" likely involves having a full (or pretty full) client load and you are investing in getting clear on your client-centered message, and creating marketing systems for your business.

Stage 2: You've gotten clear on who you work with, created referral connections, and you're starting to create a name for yourself in your community. During this stage you've created a client-attracting website and added speaking, community teaching, or community workshops. Since you are seeing more clients and your time is getting limited, you're looking to leverage your time, hire an assistant, and perhaps add some groups to see more people.

Your "miracle" will likely involve (if you are a therapist), "how do I stop paying insurance companies and still maintain the number of clients I see"? Your solution is to create a managed care exit plan and to find very clear ways to communicate the value of your services and your expertise of the work you offer. No matter what helping/healing work you are in, you're investing in systems to make your business operations run smoothly and creating a "signature system" unique to the work you do, maximizing the effectiveness of your website, and maintaining and building community relationships and referral partnerships.

Stage 3: You've been seeing folks for a while and you're tired of the ebbs and flows during certain parts of the year. You're well established in your community and your clients are mostly private pay. Your business is pretty busy, with back-to-back clients, and you are likely running from dusk to dawn.

Your "miracle" will likely involve how to shift from trading dollars for hours and stop working so hard in your business. You may be feeling a bit isolated if you work alone, and you wonder how you can free up sometime and help more people without working harder. You're investing significantly in shifting your business model, hiring additional staff and support, or leveraging your time by creating products to help your clients and new ways to service them, such as online programs.

Stage 4: You've decided to play bigger and want to move beyond just seeing folks in your community. You are exploring online opportunities to share your work, offer programs online/offline, or possibly train others in the model you developed. You are looking to share your message with the world and reach 10,000's of people.

Your "miracle" will likely involve helping more people and connecting with people in a big way online and growing your list in a big way. At this point you are investing significantly in learning how to leverage your message and reach more people, which may include writing a book, or creating online and offline programs.

Want to get creative? Create a visual compass of what stage you are in and what direction you desire to head in. Use some luscious art materials or collage images and get super clear on your current place, then design an image that captures your "miracle" (Feel free to post an image of your artwork and ah-ha's on the blog!)

Now all business are not quite that orderly, and you may find yourself with some actions in Stage 2 and Stage 4. Now all business are not quite that orderly, and you may find yourself with some actions in Stage 2 and Stage 4. Wherever you find yourself, ask yourself the miracle question and you'll be sure to know what direction your moving in.

 

Dr. Laura JJ Dessauer, Ed.D., L.M.H.C., is the founder of the International Association of Therapists in Private Practice (IATPP.org) and the owner Creativity Queen LLC.

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