As a private practitioner your website is likely to be your most important marketing tool. Of all the pages on your website, your “Home” page is likely to be the most visited. Following your Home page, your “About” page is often the next most visited page. As such it is important that counsellors create a welcoming, client-engaging About page.
Why Clients View Your About Page:
Before booking an appointment with you, almost all clients will view your About page. Why?
In general, clients look at About pages for many reasons. These include:
a) Clients are trying to understand the type of counselling you do.
Many clients use your About page to get a better understanding of the type of counselling you practice. It is important to describe your approach to counselling and any specialities you have on your About page.
b) Clients want to assess your level of experience and professionalism.
One way to do this is to include facts such as:
- the number of years you have been in practice,
- your training and qualifications,
- your professional membership, or
- any other information that attests to your level of expertise.
c) Clients are trying to assess if they like you.
Clients are more likely to engage with counsellors that they like and relate to. Your About page should thus include a mix of personal and professional information. While most counsellors will want to limit self-disclosure for therapeutic reasons, some personal information you can include are:
- interests or hobbies,
- favourite activities,
- significant milestones in your life (such as getting married or having children) or
- personal problems you have experienced and overcome.
A good About page will give potential clients confidence that counselling with you will be an experience that is useful for them. The following five recommendations can be useful when creating the “perfect” About page:
1) Include a warm, welcoming, professional photo of yourself
Of the recommendations in this article, this is perhaps the most important. As human beings, we form immediate and powerful judgements when seeing people’s faces. And we tend to mistrust people whose faces we cannot see. Including a warm, welcoming and professional photo is a powerful means for helping clients develop trust and likeness for you. And while it is by no means essential, overseas research suggests potential clients respond better to photographs of counsellors that are taken outside (in natural surroundings).
2) It’s Not Just About You!
The first time a client visits your About page they are likely to be unsure whether counselling is right for them. In terms of the Wheel of Change, they are in the “Contemplation” stage. A good way to address this is to start your About page in a client-centred way. If you are a counsellor specializing in anxiety counselling for example, you could start your About page with a question such as “Do you worry excessively about day to day events?”. You can then follow this with a few sentences describing the experience of anxiety. Starting your About page by focussing on your clients issues helps clients connect to your page (and also shows clients that you have their issues uppermost in your mind).
3) Tell a Story
Human beings react powerfully to stories. Most people love stories-we organise our understanding of almost all phenomena around stories. And stories are perhaps the easiest way to elicit emotions in readers-often quickly helping clients to decide to contact us as counsellors.
Some powerful About pages use story telling as a technique to engage clients. Often the story relates to the counsellor-possibly including stories of personal or professional achievement. If you have overcome an issue that you want to help clients with for example, telling this story in a brief way can be a powerful way of assuring clients that you are likely to be able to help them. Other counsellors may tell stories of their professional lives-how and why they chose to become counsellors for example, or a story that speaks to their professional experience and range of clients seen.
4) Reassure Clients that Change is Possible
While relating to clients is an important aspect of all About pages, it is also important to tell clients that change is possible. This is best done towards the end of the About page. Some simple ways of doing this is to include statements such as “Help is Available” or “Change is Possible”. Often it is useful to combine these statements into a “Call to Action”. A Call to Action is a statement which instructs a potential client to do something. For example, a counsellor specializing in depression may conclude her About page with a statement such as “You can feel better. Call me on xxx-xxxx to arrange an appointment now.”
5) Use simple language
If clients struggle to understand the language on your About page they will be much less likely to contact you. Some clients may not understand words that many counsellors take for granted, such as “intimacy” or “empathy”. Many will not understand technical terms such as “dysthymia” or “affect”. When writing your About page use simple language and do not make any assumptions about the client’s level of literacy. There are many online tools that check the complexity of your writing. One that I use is Hemingway Editor. This checks my writing for long or confusing words or sentences-helping me make my writing much easier to understand!