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Copywriting 101: A Guide to Impactful Copywriting for Therapists

As a therapist, your practice is built on trust. But your opportunity to connect with your patients begins long before they ever step into your office. It begins when they they read reviews on Google. When they scan your Psychology Today listing. When you reply to their emails on time. And of course, when they land on your practice’s website.

Your online presence can make the difference between connecting with your ideal patients and getting lost in the open tabs. An outdated website is such a missed opportunity in a time where modern, easy-to-navigate websites for therapists are completely within reach.

Could your website be better? Whether you’d like to hire a web designer or do the thing yourself, it’s always worth investing in an authentic web presence to amplify the work you already do. Here are a few tips on copywriting for therapists + resources to totally transform your website.

Know who you’re writing to.

Before ever putting pen to paper, block out an hour to create personas. A persona is a fictional client that is based on one or more of your actual clients, and you should aim to have two or three depending on the size of your practice.

When you build out a persona, you’ll create a fully-established profile to represent different types of clients. You’ll address what they struggle with, what they’re hoping to get from therapy, and even go as far as to assign an invented name and demographics. The purpose of this is to move your abstract view of a client into a more complete one. Make them real. You’ll start to see your clients and their needs more concretely, and understand how to create a message that is inclusive enough to appeal to different needs while creating the feeling for each persona that it was written for people like them.

Read more: Personas template coming soon!

Make a plan for your website.

Through my work as web designer and copywriter, I’ve worked on websites in literally every state of completion. Starting a website from scratch. Designing a new website around old copy. Freshening up an old website with new copy. You get the point. But I’ll tell you that having done this dozens of times, my first step in every project is the same.

Every project needs to start with a content plan.

A content plan is basically a rough version of what content will go where when your website is finished. You can do it on a sheet of paper or using a design tool like Figma or Adobe.

You can (and should) use placeholders like “This is a header”, “Lorem Ipsum”, or “Call to Action”. But the purpose of the exercise is that before you ever start logging hours copywriting or building a functional website, you’ll have a basic structure to guide your copywriting You’ll know what type of information you need and roughly what format it should take (header, paragraph, button, etc.).

Doing this not only ensures you don’t skip over any major topics on your website, but it will save you tons of time down the road.

Read more: Sample content plan coming soon.

Write as yourself, addressing an individual directly.

Perspective makes all the difference in copywriting. Rather than speaking about yourself in the third person, adjusting your perspective to “I” or “we” will make your website infinitely more personal and conversational.

This also applies in how you address your prospective clients. Rather than addressing them as the generic “they”, “everyone”, or “some people”, find opportunities to speak to them directly using “you” and “yours.” Second person has been shown to be more impactful and higher converting in copywriting.

Write shorter, more impactful sentences.

When you first attempt your own copy, you might notice yourself using repetitive sentence structures or starting too many sentences in the same way. It’s first most important that you get it out there, so don’t worry too much about this in your first draft! But as you begin to edit, here are a few ways that you can make sure your sentences are more interesting…

  • Rewrite sentences that use the same starting word. You can do this by rearranging the sentence, changing perspectives, combining two sentences, or starting your sentence with a verb.
  • Make your sentences short and sweet. Copywriting differs from other types of writing because your sentences should be short, and to the point. Shorter. Good.
  • Avoid passive voice. Passive voice is when what is passive voice? More impactful copy is active

Create feeling, mindfully.

The role of impactful copywriting is to agitate emotions that compel the reader to take action. Retailers use this technique all the time, but I recommend that mental health professionals are more thoughtful in their approach.

You might approach your copywriting in the same way you’d approach your first conversation with a patient. It’s perfectly reasonable to allude to your areas of specialization or ask leading questions, but that should stop short of calling out or dredging up fear or worry. You want them to feel comfortable rather than interrogated.

Write like you speak.

When we sit down to write, we often jump back into old habits. The word-stuffing that helped us reach our character count on our term papers comes back in a BIG way. We end up utilizing elevated jargon when colloquial phrasing would suffice (see what I did there?). What results is copy that doesn’t really sound like you, or anyone, for that matter.

There are tons of exercises to help you get out of this habit! Some of my favorites are…

  • Graffiti. Get a blank sheet of paper and write every non-sequeter, bizarre combination of words that comes to mind. You won’t actually be using any of it, so the more outlandish, the better. This exercise can help you loosen up and get you past the notion that things have to be brilliant the first time you write them. Spit it out. Edit later.
  • Record yourself. If you’re having trouble getting started, but find it easier to speak what you’re thinking, you might try recording yourself as you try to write your “about” or “services” text. When you listen back, make note of any words that you notice yourself using. Any key points you want to make sure are mentioned.

Benefits not features.

One super common mistake people make in copywriting is that they spend too much time highlighting features of their service when they should be sharing benefits. You can think of a feature as a “what” and a benefit as a “why”.

For example, let’s say you’re a trauma-informed therapist that offers EMDR. A feature might be that it’s a 90-minute session, while a benefit is that they may experience a noticeable reduction in their panic and anxiety levels in 90-minutes. A feature is that it relies on eye movement rather than talking, while a benefit is that it may provide a path to healing for clients who have struggled with talk therapy in the past. Are you catching the difference?

It sounds simple, but moving past features to uncover intrinsic benefits can take a couple of rounds of asking “why?” The best copy connects the benefits and features for the client in as few words as possible. I encourage you to try this out for yourself.

Read More: Features to benefits worksheet coming soon.

A head start on benefits.

For the most part, there are three key messages that most therapists’ copywriting should have.

Trust. Understanding. Experience.

How you go about communicating these things ultimately comes down to who you are as a therapist. Some therapists build trust through no-nonsense directness while others offer understanding through validation and warmth. Where one might convey experience through education or years of practice, another can highlight their own recovery as a way of getting that point across.

After you’ve written your copy, go through and read it out loud. Does it sound like you? Would a prospective client get a sense of what it might like to sit across from you in your office?

Next Steps

Your website is the beginning of a relationship. And the more effort you put into identifying, understanding, and writing to your ideal client, the more likely you are to attract the types of clients you want to work with. If you have any questions, comment below! And if you’d like to work with us, take a look at our “Websites for Therapists” packages.

More Outlandish specializes in websites for community-driven and creative businesses. Take a look at what we do.

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