The Pros and Cons of Marketing Psychotherapy Services

The Pros and Cons of Marketing Psychotherapy Services

A friend sent me this New York Times article on the trend of therapists to specialize, market their services, and “brand” themselves.  I don’t enjoy marketing and my friend thought I’d be able to easily relate to the author’s concerns. Yet, when I read the article I did not find myself empathizing much at all with the author.  This author is correct that therapists have learned marketing techniques to lure clients to their practice, and that their websites and directories can be very misleading. She goes on, however, to scoff at therapist specialization as existing only to help therapists earn more money and look good on paper, and at clients’ wish for solutions as being an unrealistic search for “quick fixes” at the expense of internal change.  While I agree that psychodynamic therapies are best practice for some client concerns and that some clients are seeking personal transformation, I believe the majority of clients need something more immediate, and that is not bad.  A lot of clients who are looking for therapy are in pain that they need some relief from now.  Some clients I see are in danger of losing their jobs, or their life partners, or have some other concern that can’t wait for them to have a transformative experience.  Knowing a therapist’s specialties helps clients to know where they can go for the best possible help, and since many solution-focused therapists are also competent at longer term models, they can help the client move into deeper territory once things are on a more stable track if that’s what the client wants.  And the reason life coaching, which the author also scoffs at, is as popular as it is, is because clients who work with competent coaches actually get their needs met through this brief, empowering and action oriented service.

So I guess marketing is a double-edged sword.  There are numerous references in the article to marketing strategies, which sound duplicitous and sensationalized, and those who promise results, especially within a specific time frame, are asking for trouble. But giving clients a general idea of a time frame (which can be revised) and a plan to help them move to a better place in their lives is a reasonable expectation that many people who are seeking help have.

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