How to be a successful therapist: 6 tips from seasoned professionals

“Success as a therapist is not found in doing something for the client, but rather in being something for the client,” said renowned family therapist Ila Rivera Walter. Great therapists fulfill important roles for their clients, showing up for them in exactly the way they need. 

But what happens in the therapy room is only one small part of being a successful therapist. You can be the most effective therapist in the world but without getting clients in the door – and retaining them – you won’t get ahead. Mental health professionals need to develop entrepreneurial skills as well as clinical expertise to take their private practice to the next level. 

Learn how to be a successful therapist with our six key tips, backed up by experienced psychotherapists. We’ll outline the mix of hard and soft skills you need to keep your clients happy, your calendar booked up, and your workload manageable. 


Nuna is an all-in-one practice management tool for therapists that also helps you to connect with new clients from all over the world. Try it now – it’s free. 

6 ways to become a successful therapist

1. Be an empathetic listener

You likely became a psychotherapist because you have a natural capacity for empathy and a genuine desire to listen to people with mental health issues. But it’s important not to take these skills for granted. 

Therapy work can be tough, and it’s easy to get disillusioned by the challenges of psychotherapy or try so hard to find solutions for your clients that you stop really listening to what they’re saying in therapy sessions

Saakshi Tikku, a mental health counselor who specializes in teens, family, and couples therapy, advises therapists to “Listen with your heart and never jump to a conclusion or judgment too quickly.” 

Active, compassionate listening is a muscle. You need to work it regularly to keep it strong, and that means reminding yourself to stay in the moment, stay with your patient, and stay connected to the reasons you wanted to be a great therapist in the first place.

Remember, successful therapists lead with their values – and this isn’t just about what happens in your therapy sessions. By marketing yourself as a values-led practitioner, and living up to them with clients, you can differentiate your therapy practice

2. Work as if you’ve already reached your goal

To become a successful therapist, you need to act like a successful therapist. Psychotherapist Victoria Niven, who helps clients with depression, anxiety, and personal development issues says “Work as if you have already reached your goal.” 

That means you should give the best of yourself to every single client in your therapy work. The best way to get referrals – and more clients – is by focusing on giving excellent mental healthcare. Niven reminds mental health professionals that “What matters is the patient you have today. This patient will bring more patients.”

This also means you should believe in your value, and market yourself as the accomplished, effective therapist you are. It’s crucial not to undersell yourself, and it’s important to respect your time, boundaries, and well-being to avoid burnout

Niven said one of the major mistakes she made–and counsels new therapists to avoid–was  “not charging much because I thought that this way I would have more patients. This is not true, when your prices are lower than other professionals you are not giving enough value to the time you have spent studying and working on each case.”

Take a look at our advice on mistakes to avoid when starting a private practice for more key tips from experience.

3. Master your marketing

Many psychologists assume that heavily marketing their practice will make them seem false and flashy. But the most successful therapists don’t advertise how great they are–they use values-led marketing that shows clients how they can help them. 

Start by defining your psychotherapy niche, ideal client, and core values so you have a clear message to market. Then use concrete strategies, like: 

  • Building a strong web presence 

Life coach and transition counselor Luisa Mannu says the one piece of advice she would give to therapists starting out is “to have a good website and be visible on the web.” Spend time creating quality web content, and use key terms related to your niche that will help potential clients to find you online. 

  • Social media, blogging, and online workshops

Individual, family, and couples therapist Elena Blackwood reminds counselors that “having a business social media account is a great way to reach more people and put yourself out there.” It’s important to use the full range of online tools available to promote yourself. Sharing therapy content on Instagram, Twitter, or Tiktok can help you to connect much more directly with your potential client base. You could also consider starting a blog, guest blogging for other websites, or participating in online workshops to establish your expertise. 

  • Referrals 

Getting referrals from current patients is one of the most trusted ways of finding new clients. You can make it easy for clients to refer you by letting them know about your website or online therapist profile, or giving them business cards. Building your network and connecting with other therapists will also increase your chances of getting referrals from other mental health professionals in the field. 

  • Therapist directories

Online therapist directories are also a fantastic way to reach new clients–and some of the best even match potential clients with therapists, operating as a virtual referral system. 

Nuna’s online therapist marketplace is a great place to start. Therapists create public profiles listing their areas of expertise, and potential clients can browse the directory and find a perfect match. Nuna helps therapists to attract clients from all around the world, as well as providing scheduling, practice management, and teletherapy tools. 


Psychotherapist Victoria Niven says she mainly finds new clients “thanks to Nuna and the recommendations of my patients.”

You can read further advice in our article on how to get more therapy clients. 

4. Build up your practice gradually

There’s no way around it: becoming a successful therapist takes time. You can’t rush building therapeutic relationships, and your therapy work should always move at the pace of your clients. 

In practical terms, that may mean you want to start off part-time in private practice and use teletherapy or shared office spaces while you’re giving a smaller number of therapy sessions. Joaquín Juliá Salmerón, a practitioner who specializes in treating anxiety, depression, and weight loss, says therapists starting out should “combine with another job”, both to build up your private practice without financial pressures, and to “gain experience” and “receive on-going constant training.” 

A good therapist should take the time to continue to expand clinical experience and expertise so as to be able to take on new types of clients or offer an even better service to current clients. 

Building up slowly also ensures you won’t get overwhelmed or experience burnout by taking on too much too soon. 

If you’re at the beginning of your journey, take a look at our key tips on how to start an online therapy practice

5. Use a practice management tool like Nuna to keep you organized

Private practitioners spend a huge amount of time managing bookings and cancellations, client files, and payments. This can lead to burnout and take valuable time and mental energy away from your client sessions as well as your efforts to find new clients.

Many mental health professionals choose to use practice management software like Nuna to streamline their work processes and keep everything in one place. Nuna is an all-in-one therapy scheduling software that helps therapists to reduce no-shows with advanced appointment features that show bookings, reschedules, and cancellations in real-time, and send clients reminders of their upcoming sessions.  

Nuna is also a comprehensive, end-to-end secured teletherapy system, and it allows you to promote your practice with the online therapist directory and to take therapy notes and store medical records securely in-platform.

Psychotherapist Elena Blackwood says she “used to take notes during sessions on paper” but has now moved to electronic tools, like using a tablet, which is “much more time-efficient and also more environmentally friendly.” 

Using a practice management software for therapists like Nuna will help you to save time and to re-focus on your main goals – as well as giving your clients a seamless, organized booking experience.

6. Guarantee client confidentiality with teletherapy platforms

Making your clients feel secure is crucial in any therapy session. Part of this relates to your therapeutic relationship, so you need to build a relationship of trust and ensure your clients feel this is a safe space for them to share. 

But technology also has a role to play. Virtual sessions are becoming more and more popular, but since there are additional concerns around privacy and data protection in online settings, you should only use high-security teletherapy platforms. 

Therapist Saakshi Tikku reiterates that “the software for online therapy should guarantee confidentiality as it’s of prime importance”, but also adds that “the therapy platform should offer different mediums like audio-only, audio-visual, texting, emailing, etc to suit the comfort level of the client.” 

Nuna’s teletherapy platform is end-to-end encrypted, which means it’s a trustworthy environment for clients. The interface allows therapists to start calls with clients directly, and there’s a uniquely flexible range of call options available: high-quality video calls, screen share capability, audio-only calls, and chat and file share features that can be used during therapy sessions and in between. 

Our full list of the best teletherapy platforms can help you choose one that meets your needs. 

Finding success as a therapist

Being a successful therapist means developing your abilities in multiple roles: as a mental health professional, as an entrepreneur, and as a project manager. 

Psychotherapy can be a difficult career path that involves cultivating many different skillsets. But by leading with your values, building up gradually, marketing yourself well, and using the best practice management and teletherapy tools available, you can become a highly effective therapist with a booming private practice. 


Nuna is an all-in-one practice management tool for therapists that also helps you to connect with new clients from all over the world. Try it now – it’s free. 


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