Do I Really Need To Identify My “Ideal Client”??

I had honestly never asked myself this question…what is my ideal client? In grad school, this never came up. Then, I went to work in community mental health, and no one there ever asked me which clients I wanted or liked to work with. You took what clients they gave you and if you didn’t like it or didn’t feel competent, well that was just too bad. I can remember wanting to help people that came into my office when I worked in community mental health. But, having no time, or dare I say desire, to research just how to do this.

Pinot And Practice

A year after opening up my own private practice, I decided to attend Pinot and Practice with Joe. I was so excited, not only was I going to learn how to grow my practice, but I was going to get tipsy in the process!! I sat down the first day and opened our packet. Starting on page two was the title “Your Ideal Client.” Honestly, my first thought was, “wow, did I just spend all this money to make up a character in my head?” But, there it was in black and white. I was even supposed to draw a picture of my ideal client. What is his or her name, age, and details of their life. I genuinely had no idea. I was stumped. After I had attempted to cheat from others’ papers around me… and failed, I expressed to Joe that I was stuck. With some guidance, I sat back and thought about which clients I look forward to seeing and working with. Which client do I feel that I help the most?

After some thought, I identified three clients that I look forward to seeing the most and the qualities they each have that lead me to feel a connection with them. Surprisingly, all three clients were around the same age, with similar diagnoses, and similar treatment plans. So, I went to the drawing page and invented my ideal client, Timmy.

Click here to learn about this year’s event. 

“Book Yourself Solid”

A few months after Pinot and Practice, I was listening to a podcast on growing my practice that was again preaching to identify your ideal client. I really thought I had escaped having to do this. So I listened and took from it that I needed to read “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port. I had heard of this book from several different people at various points in attempting to grow my business. So I went onto audible and was ready to learn. Chapter 1, The Velvet Rope Policy, guess what you open your velvet rope for? Your ideal client. As if this wasn’t enough of a slap in the face, he then wants you to trim your client list to eliminate clients that do not fit into your velvet rope policy. This was downright crazy, I thought. How am I supposed to grow my practice by getting rid of clients?

The Importance Of An Ideal Client

After doing some further thinking and journaling, I realized that although not being able to identify your ideal client shouldn’t hold you back from starting your own private practice, it does have a purpose. You will always do your best work when you are motivated and you will be motivated when working with your ideal client. Remember back in CMH when you thought “I would do anything to get rid of this client”? Well, now that you are in private practice, that needs to change to instead thinking, “I would do anything to get more clients like this,” like your ideal client.

Melinda Vesely, LCPC, CADC, Owner of Empowering Minds counseling.

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