Currently, we face challenging times. People around the world are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, therapists are also on the front lines, caring for people’s mental health.
So many people need help today and will need help tomorrow. Many witnesses to the mental health toll are bracing themselves for the aftermath of the pandemic too.
It is clear that the pandemic is causing collective trauma. Health care workers are especially vulnerable but many are at risk.
Grief and loss, of life, of experiences, of the way things were, is also a large issue. Loneliness and constant anxiety are also challenges for many.
With social distancing also comes increased risks of interpersonal abuse within families so things like domestic violence and child abuse will be intensified during this period as well.
With all of the impacts felt both now, ongoing, and after, how can therapists communicate their availability to help? How can they make it known if their services are suited to help with new pandemic-related stresses?
The following 5 items walk you through how you may wish to update your therapist website to be more clear about how you’re available during this challenging time.
1. Create A Pandemic-Specific Online Therapy Service Page
When most people think of therapy, they think of coming into an office, sitting on a chair or couch, and talking to their therapist face-to-face.
Social distancing best practices mean that you’ve taken your therapy services online and it’s your website’s job to help explain what it can help with and help visitors understand that it can be just as supportive as face-to-face (if not more in some aspects).
Here’s a rough outline of what to include on the page:
- Speak to the pain of the pandemic
- Link back to any other services or specializations that you can help with via the online format.
- Highlight the benefits of online therapy
- Add how you can uniquely help, answering the question of what makes you different from other therapists that would make you a good match for your ideal clients
- Address any concerns that might hold someone back from getting therapy online
- Outline how it works, step by step
- Make sure to include clear directions on how to reach out
Remember: at this point, it’s not about perfection but about helping. Do your best to get your perfectionist part to allow you to publish something that isn’t perfect. Communicating you are here to help is possible to do without the exactly correct words (whatever that means). So even your first draft following the above outline will do for now.
2. Update Your Websites Top Bar (Steal This Language)
A top bar is the top most area of your site. Persistently in the header above your logo, primary navigation, and the rest of the content of your website’s pages, information you place in this location prioritizes the information being seen and should be updated with COVID-related service announcements and calls to action to invite visitors to take the next step.
This is THE PLACE to write a one to two sentence note about the move to online therapy and link to your new service page with more information.
Feel free to use any of this language as-is or as a starting off point:
- “Socially distant but not emotionally distant. I’m here with you. Therapy sessions are available via online therapy, phone therapy, and session lengths that are more flexible than ever. Explore How To Get My Help“
- “Feeling worried all the time, gripped by sadness, experiencing pandemic-related stress? Online therapy is now available to help.”
- “COVID-19: To align to the changing circumstances caused by COVID-19 and the measures to reduce its impacts, sessions are now available via video or phone. Discover How Online Can Help“
Instead of treating it as just informational, note you can also use it as a space to speak to the specific pains or concerns that might keep your best-fit client from getting your help.
For example, if you know that your best-fit client tends to struggle with finding a private space in their house, offering phone therapy where they can sit in their car with their phone might help them get the help they need. Highlighting the flexibility of that service could be the priority for you to speak to in this update. Or it might differ based on what it is your best fit client needs.
3. Update Your Website’s Home Page
Creating a horizontal section for COVID, write copy that speaks to pandemic-related concerns, and link to any relevant service pages.
So if you are already in the space of helping with grief and loss, trauma, anxiety, or depression, for example, can write about how these services would help in our current climate? Can you describe 2-3 pandemic-related pains and how your service could help with it?
After doing so, link to the corresponding service page (which can be updated too next…)
4. Update The Footer, Calls To Action, Or All Service & Specializations Pages With A Note About All Services Being Online
In addition to ensuring your address new pandemic-related stresses, make sure it’s clear that all services – for the time being – are conducted online.
How you do so will be very dependent on how your website is organized and laid out and what you have easy access to updating.
It may be easiest to update the footer with a note that says “Due to COVID stay-at-home practices, all services are currently provided online.”
If you update the footer, it will display on every page. Otherwise, you can also go through your services or specializations page and add it within the page content where it makes sense.
Another place to possibly update with this information: your contact page where you invite your website visitor to reach out.
5. Update Relevant Service Pages To Speak To The Pandemic Stresses
Update the copy on the service pages to speak to pandemic-related pains if it makes sense to do so.
For example, if you have an anxiety page, you may want to insert a sentence or two acknowledging different types of anxieties people are experiencing with the pandemic. This will help website visitors feel seen and heard in this critical moment and help them understand which services of yours could help them.
No need to update an entire page. If you already have a well-written service page, just adding a short paragraph at the top would suffice.
5. Add New Services To Your Website As Needed
As the pandemic continues, there will undoubtedly be new needs. Do your clients need less expensive therapy? Like group therapy? Do they need to talk on the phone instead of doing video therapy so they can walk at the park or sit in their car away from their family?
Listening to what your clients need and providing it will be your best guide as to if you ought to offer anything new or different. If you start to offer or integrate new services like online support groups, online workshops, phone therapy, or more, you will want to update your website ongoing to reflect any new offerings that you provide.
What To Keep In Mind Ongoing
This pandemic will have lasting effects so changes that you make to your website copy now may be changes that you will want to keep in place ongoing. If you work with a population that is highly affected – you may want to update your website copy with that in mind.
How can you update your website in a way that is “evergreen” so that it is relevant and sensitive to the ongoing effects of pandemic-related challenges?
Just Say No To Popups
Many therapists have been reaching out to ask me if I’d recommend a popup that displays information about offering online therapy. My firm answer is no. Here are my research-backed reasons why:
- Popups contribute to website visitor disorientation – and now is not a good time to add to their disorientation
- Popups can’t be reopened. If you are trying to communicate something as important as information about your online therapy services, don’t put it on a window that can be closed with no clear way back to that same information.
- Popups interrupt users. If you’re in the middle of a crisis, trying to find help, having a popup appear in the middle of the screen without the website visitor’s consent, it interrupts the task they are trying to accomplish – which in almost all cases of a person visiting a therapist website would be to get help.
- Popups are the opposite place a website visitor would look for important information. With popups usually holding subscribe forms or ads, if you put important information about your services on a popup, the information could be overlooked. You would be breaking a convention in a way that does not benefit you or the website visitor as it can be easily closed without a second glance.
Keep important information about your services in gentle, persistent areas like the top bar. The last thing we need right now is more unexpected things popping up.
Your Help Is So Needed, Take Good Care Of You
While everyone’s mental health is at risk, your mental health may need additional care too.
Your work is so important and so is your care of you. By taking care of you, you’re also taking care of all of the people you help. As Brene always says, the most compassionate people are also the most boundaried. Continue to protect and care for you to keep your compassion muscle strong.
With that said, it is possible to update your website with all of the above suggestions but you should know that it’s not a requirement to do so!
What do you have the bandwidth for? Perhaps one or two small changes. Or nothing at all. Perhaps you want to focus more on your current clients and yourself and your family than marketing. And if so, that is ok.
One-on-One Help Available
If you’re struggling to find the words to use, not sure on what to update, or frustrating with not knowing how to implement it, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can offer my help on an hourly basis to discuss your website and any other COVID-related marketing concerns.
Reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an hour with me. Would be happy to help further if it is what would support you most at this time.