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The Simple Secret to Getting Private Pay Clients (for therapists and counselors)

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Today (5/24) I had two clients cancel and I found myself feeling aimless.

So I began poking around my site. I noticed that I had:

  • 86 people see my website this month,

  • 12 have reached out for a session,

  • that means my site converts 14.1% of people into callers.

That felt high to me. My business partner Paul Peterson says that a good website converts at 8%.

So I went back through 5 months of data and ran my numbers. (April was excluded for reasons I'll mention later.)


Site visitors = 88

Client reach outs = 10

Conversion rate = 11.4%

















First, there's a good bit of flux there, but if you look at my numbers my site converts, on average, 12.32%. That's 4% above industry average. And I'm on track to be above that this month (it's May of 2023 as I write this).

Now that could be a fluke. December was a high month and so was February. However I did make an important change to my website. In late April I moved my Book A Session form to my home page. In general the more pages people have to click, the less likely they are to book. So in theory moving the Book a Session button to the home page should increase my conversion rate [1].

I'll keep an eye on this and we'll see if there's a long term change.

The question then becomes how many of those calls convert to clients.

Honestly I have no idea. And I probably won't know.

In April, I changed my website to say, "don't call me I don't have space." I get so many calls I couldn't handle all the flow. (I have a few other ways of getting clients and end up getting on average 5 calls a week. Some weeks it's 8.)

So I don't track how many callers become clients simply because I'm often turning people away. But I will say in April I went full private pay and haven't had a problem keeping a full case load. Historically my churn rate is 1.5 a month. So I only need to convert 1-2 calls a month into clients.

The secret to getting private pay clients in your counseling practice.

People often ask me "how do I get private pay clients?" as though private pay clients are some sort of different and mysterious creature compared to insurance clients.

I don't think private pay clients are different. What my numbers show is:

  • If my SEO game is good enough that 100 people see my site,

  • and the copywriting on my website is good enough that 12 of them call me,

  • I can convince 1-2 a month to pay me cash for counseling,

  • and I'll still be turning away clients.

Therefore, the secret to getting private pay clients: getting private pay clients is largely a numbers game.

zach galifianakis thinking about numbers

The four questions to ask if you want a private pay counseling practice

Thinking about private pay clients as a numbers game you can self diagnose your practice. How many people are visiting your website per month? If no one's visiting your site then you've got an SEO problem.

What happens if they are visiting your site? Well, how many site visitors are calling your phone? If no one's calling your phone then you've got a copywriting problem.

But if they are calling you, then how many callers are becoming clients? If none of them then you need to work on your ability to convert callers to clients.

What happens if you can convince people to pay you money but you still can't keep a full caseload? How many sessions do clients come for? Cause if this is you, you've got a retention problem. There's a direct relationship between how many sessions clients attend and how many clients you need per month.

Get a FREE website for your private pay counseling practice

After running all these numbers I reached out to Luke Jackson. He's one of the people currently in the Harris and Peterson Mentorship program. We've taken his practice from ground level to fully self sustaining in 6 months. I asked him to also run his numbers.


Site visitors = 48

Client reachouts = 5

Conversion rate 10.4%




12.5 %













That's a total conversion rate of 12.4%.

Sound familiar? So it's not a one off fluke. We can reliably create websites which convert 12% of visitors to callers.

If you want a website which converts like this FOR FREE, reach out to Luke.

Yeah, you heard that. For FREE. He's doing it for free with the hopes that if he does enough for free he'll build an audience and once he has a strong audience he hopes to build a business out of it.

So while he won't always make websites for FREE, right now you can get yours for FREE. I'd reach out sooner rather than later because Luke only builds 3-4 of these websites a month.

I hope this serves you.


Jordan (the Counselor),



[1] special thanks to Luke Jackson for this tip.


If you liked this post, consider reading this next. I think you'll like it ;) It's about how to make 100k as a counselor.


Jordan Harris, Ph.D., LMFT-S, LPC-S received his Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Louisiana Monroe. He is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Arkansas, USA. In his clinical work he enjoys working with couples. He also runs a blog on deliberate practice for therapists and counselors at

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