Throughout my years in private practice consulting, not a week has gone by when I haven’t heard some version of, “My city is saturated with therapists. Maybe I should just stay in my job instead of doing private practice because there’s too much competition.”
It sounds right, right? It’s that business-minded mentality—and even the term “saturated market” sounds like you’re on your way to a business conference.
Here’s the great news that the majority of you want to hear AND some real-life proof that it’s true:
There is no better place to set up shop than a saturated area.
Think about the downtown areas of thriving cities. Have you ever noticed that 3 of the 4 corners have coffee shops? Did you know that major corporations like Starbucks look for areas that have thriving coffee shops and move in as close as possible? They do this not in a takedown effort but because it’s an area that has proven to value coffee and/or that “third place” to hang out beyond home and work. Most cities have enough local shop loyalists and Starbucks fans to keep everyone busy and caffeinated.
Some of my own anecdotal proof as a therapist: I’ve had thriving practices right in the heart of the very saturated markets of Seattle, WA and Asheville, NC. Both of these cities are teeming with therapists, and both are full and new to private practice. In addition, there are a ton of nonprofits and government that offer support to the people who need it.
How? Because saturated markets are markets that have proven that they value therapy. You don’t have to sell the idea of counseling to the population AND sell yourself as a viable option. The people of cities saturated with therapists are aware of therapy, they know it’s around, and they often feel a greater sense of comfort in accessing services than underserved communities.
Also, if there were so many therapists that you couldn’t make a living, therapists would be quitting private practice, which would ultimately desaturate the area. The fact that so many people are in business is a good sign!
Here’s the thing though: in a saturated market, there are plenty of clients to go around, but you have to be found. That typically means having a niche, but it also means marketing your practice.
I know “marketing” is a similar term to “saturated.” It’s a business term, and not necessarily in a good way. If the word “marketing” makes you cringe a bit, read Marketing Is Service to see if I can change your mind.
My very favorite thing about marketing in private practice is the huge number of options that we have available to us. If you hate writing, you never have to blog. If you love playing the algorithm game, you can play with your SEO until you’re on page one of Google (or pay someone to do it!). Want to host a podcast? Sweet! Let’s do it! There are literally dozens of effective strategies and I only ever recommend a private practice to employ five of them. There are definitely five of them you can like (or at least not hate.) If you want to be walked through those options, including best practices, action plans, and assessing whether or not it’s something you’d like, we do that in the Abundance Party.
If you started reading this with a worry that your saturated market makes for too competitive an environment for you to succeed, I hope this helps you see that your saturated market just means that you need to do a lot less work convincing people that therapy is a good thing and a little more work marketing. All of this will help you stand out and never feel the effects of the so-called “saturated” market.* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.