3 Secrets to a Thriving Therapy Practice in an Urban Area by Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers


I’ve been training therapists for almost 30 years and each year supervisees want to know how to grow a thriving practice. It can be tough in areas like Seattle where there are several counseling programs, each graduating 30 plus students a year, many of which are looking to start their own practice as soon as possible!

So how do you distinguish yourself?  

This becomes the big question.


What makes someone choose you over all the other therapists out there?

Looking through Psychology Today listings, you will find that every therapist “specializes” in individuals with depression and anxiety, couples with marital problems, and families in distress ... Everyone seems to do “everything”.  

Many professors will tell you “you must find your ‘niche’” and while this has some value - this can also be anxiety producing. My advice … first and foremost:


Be outstanding at providing comprehensive care - bio-psycho-social-sexual-spiritual care.


This is how the human person is designed. Be able to meet them where they are. As soon as you are out of grad school - beef up your skills in spirituality and sexuality, and collaborating with medical professionals. If you are strong in these areas, you will edge out all other therapists. 


Here are some important things to do to launch yourself quickly and distinguish yourself as a therapist who has more to offer than the more typically trained

First– Avoid starting a practice with someone who is also just beginning. 

Even though it might be fun to start with someone you went to school with – it is not a good business move. Start your practice with someone who already has an established or full practice, and preferably with a complementary practitioner. 


For example, find a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in children, a naturopath who specializes in women’s health, or a therapist whose specialization is very different than yours and who has been in practice for more than ten years. These practitioners are much more likely to need the referral relationship and thus, can actively refer to you.


Second  – Get on the referral list at local colleges for their students and graduate students.


You may have to offer a sliding scale, but these will be fun clients to serve and you will learn a lot from them.  Also, many counseling and education programs require their students to get counseling, so definitely get on their referral lists. Be sure to check back each year as they update their lists.




Third - Begin to get advanced training in sex therapy.

Nothing boosts your clinical skills, confidence, and expertise faster than adding sex therapy to your specialties.


Imagine you are a therapist first starting out and are seeing an individual or a couple that brings in a complex sexual issue that triggers you.


Typically, as soon as a sexual issue arises,many therapists may ignore the topic or want to refer, or provide inappropriate information. Sexual issues are treated as if they are unrelated to the rest of the lives of clients simply because the therapist is inadequately trained.


When you are trained to ‘hear’, treat, and integrate the issue with all the other bio-psycho-social-spiritual-issues you are treating, you can compassionately educate and normalize sexual behaviors without bias and with solid educated knowledge. 


When you are adequately, and holistically trained, clients tell their friends about you!

One supervisee who had recently received sex therapy training and supervision told me that she was getting so many sex therapy cases sent to her and she “wasn’t even advertising herself yet!” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this!


You can begin AASECT training by signing up for a SAR (sexual attitude reassessment) which happens each June and begin AASECT supervision any time after graduation.  Many people who begin AASECT supervision are able to have it count for both state licensure and AASECT supervision requirements - a two for one,


To your surprise, you will find yourself getting referrals for sex therapy soon after you begin supervision.  The word gets out. Most areas in our country have very few therapists with this kind of training. Less than 5% of therapists are comprehensively trained (trained in all five modalities: individual, couple, family, sex, and spiritual intimacy therapy). When the word gets out that YOU actually are, you will be surprised how many referrals you will begin to get. 


I have several therapists who have studied with NWIOI who, because they are comprehensively trained in individual, couple, family, sex therapy and spiritual intimacy, were the FIRST THERAPIST that got the referral.  They quickly became known as the clinician who could handle anything with grace, compassion, wisdom, and expertise. 

This is what comprehensive sex therapy education grants you.


Check out our upcoming courses at NWIOI.com/training

We still have a few spots left for our Applied Tantra Course,

Feb 15-16th

Save your seat! Boost your clinical confidence & earn CEU’s at the same time!



It is something to be very proud of!

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© 2019 Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers