Some therapists might recoil in horror (or assume a fetal position under the bed) at the thought of “branding” their practices. We are, after all, healers and mental health professionals, not hawkers of cosmetics and cornflakes. Indeed, to many of us, the thought of promoting ourselves and our practice seems crass, undignified, and, perhaps, a tad narcissistic. But before we throw our hands up, Joe Bavonese—author of the Networker
article “What’s in a Brand?”
—advises us to take a breath and consider what branding really means.
“First, if you think that what you do as a therapist is helpful, worthwhile, and maybe even unique (after all, you are the unique person doing it), it’s a short step to believing you have a duty to let people know these things,” Joe writes. “How else are all the people who would benefit from your services going to get help unless they know where and from whom to get it?"
In a soundbite-saturated world of information overload, having a brand that stands out is probably the only way you’ll have a chance of capturing the attention of potential clients. In fact, Joe says, you may be surprised to learn that you probably already have a brand. As a therapist, your brand is your invisible identity, perhaps built without your realizing it, based on how people in your community see your business. Clients might refer friends to you based on your excellent work with them. Or they might define you by discussing how long it takes you to return phone calls, the techniques you use, your unavailability between sessions, how you tend to space out while they’re talking, the bland colors in your waiting room, the length of your sessions, the way your voicemail message sounds, or the comfortable furniture in your office.
So, Joe tells us in the Networker Webcast series Revitalize Your Practice
, if you have a particular specialty, a unique way of working, a particular focus or interest, a record of success with certain kinds of clinical populations, as well as a reputation in the professional community and among former clients for doing genuinely helpful, caring therapeutic work, then you already have an outstanding brand. You just need to clarify it and promote it to the people who could most benefit from your clinical expertise.
In a way, you’re not just promoting yourself: you’re doing a service by letting your own light shine brighter so the people who need you can easily find you. While that may sound straightforward enough, it took a long time and an impressive number of mistakes for me to understand that I needed a brand, then to figure out what my brand was, and then to hone it, sharpen it, and promote it to the public.
Learn more from Joe Bavonese—codirector of Uncommon Practices, a service to help psychotherapists create their ideal practice—in the Networker Webcast series Revitalize Your Practice
Revitalize Your Practice
New Opportunities in Today's Mental Health Marketplace
Click here for full course details
branding your practice
expand your practice
marketing private practice