Talking Therapy Gets Intimate About New Online Channel
Talking Therapy is a new website which helps people looking for a Counsellor in Ireland to find the right therapist for them. It also provides support to professional counsellors with marketing their services online. The founder of this business is Shelley Hutchinson; an accredited and experienced psychosynthesis counsellor, specialising in working with anxiety, stress and fertility issues. Today, Shelley and I peeled back the usual reserved business layers and got a little intimate about the path she has co-planned for Talking Therapy, the difficulties she has personally experienced and why she feels so strongly about its success.
Shelley, tell me a little about your background?
Like many people, Christina, I started out working in a completely different industry to the one I am in now. I began my career in the fashion and textiles industry and this led me to become a Course Director for a Fashion Marketing degree programme at a well-known London University.
I absolutely loved teaching and looking after both lecturers and students on my degree programme. The fashion department was a wonderfully creative environment to work in. I have many fond memories of that time.
It was whilst I was working in London that I trained to be a Psychosynthesis Counsellor. As I neared the end of my training I realised I needed a gentler pace than I experienced living and working there. I had achieved a lot during my time working at the University, having accomplished my goal of developing and rolling out a new honours level fashion marketing degree programme. But it was definitely time for a change and I was keen to start my counselling practice.
I moved to Ireland in 2007 and set up my counselling practice in Cork. I haven’t looked back and my practice has gone from strength to strength. I’ve had wonderful work opportunities, including providing on-site counselling to employees of the multinational, Blizzard Entertainment.
Having a background in marketing has helped me enormously with building my own practice. It has felt like a logical step to launch Talking Therapy and support other therapists with marketing their practices.
As a trained therapist/counsellor yourself, I imagine you know only too well the positives and negatives of being a therapist in Ireland. Can you tell me about how this knowledge helped you create Talking Therapy?
It is interesting you ask that Christina. For a long time I have been concerned by the lack of information available to people searching for counsellors and psychotherapists in Ireland.
It is sad to say this but this lack of information can be a factor in people not having a positive experience with a counsellor. The worst thing for me personally is when I hear people say, “I tried counselling but it did not work for me”.
Often times it is not that counselling does not work for them, it is that the particular counsellor they saw was not right for them. However, most times people do not realise this.
I created Talking Therapy to solve this issue. Talking Therapy enables people to find a therapist who is the right match for their particular needs and requirements. Our simple step by step guide to choosing a therapist (http://talkingtherapy.ie/choosing-a-therapist/) takes people through everything they need to know to make an informed decision about which therapist to work with. I also personally handle calls from those individuals who need further assistance.
I feel passionately about the service we provide. For me, it is about helping people to get the support that they need.
The majority of start-ups fail before reaching year three. What do you feel will ensure the success of Talking Therapy?
Like most small business owners, I find that I could be spending 24/7 working on the business and still not getting everything done. Having counselled many business owners who have become burnt out after a few years of running their businesses, I know it is essential to Talking Therapy’s success that I take really good care of myself and take regular time off.
As well as looking after myself, an essential ingredient in Talking Therapy’s success is that we constantly evolve and develop our service to meet our clients’ needs. This is why we provide an online booking facility. We know that many professional people do not have time to ring around therapists to try to obtain an appointment. Our convenient online booking facility means individuals can see a therapists’s available appointments for the week ahead and book the time that is convenient for them – all at the click of a button!
What have you felt to be the most difficult decisions when planning, setting up and promoting your business?
In the planning phase for Talking Therapy the most difficult decision was what business model to use for this business. The results of surveys that we carried out with therapists and secondary research into consumer behaviour in Ireland helped us to make our decision.
There were not too many difficult decisions encountered in the setting up phase for this business, however there have been a few very challenging decisions in promoting this business.
We started out by using Google Ads to promote our services. However, we quickly realised that the cost of Google Ads was higher than the income from bookings. So we had to take the difficult decision to stop using Google Ads. Our finances have been fairly tight so we have not been able to afford to do as much offline and online advertising as we would have liked. Instead we are focusing our energies on SEO for our website.
And what are your plans for the business – how will it evolve over time?
We currently have therapists in six counties including Dublin, Cork and Kerry and provide a great service in these areas. Over the next few years we will be increasing our therapist numbers significantly so that we have counsellors and psychotherapists in all counties across ROI. This will help us achieve our goal of being the “go to” website for people in ROI to find a therapist.
An aspect of our service that is really important to us is providing resources on mental health and wellbeing. We already publish informative, free articles every week on therapy related topics. Over coming years we plan on increasing the range of resources we offer to include a selection of e-books and online courses that support individuals with creating happy and fulfilling lives. These e-books and online courses will be available for purchase through our website.
We will also be launching online marketing courses for therapists. Providing them with a step by step guide to building their dream therapy practice. These marketing courses will be suitable for all different types of therapists not just counsellors and psychotherapists.
In early 2015, we plan on launching our new responsive website, so there is much more to come!
Thank you so much Shelley – it’s wonderful to hear from someone who has not only successfully switched careers, but also used it as a spring-board to start their own business.
Does anyone have any thoughts about Shelley’s business Talking Therapy? Or perhaps your own start-up story?
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