Tag Archives: Counseling Services

Do counselors need a brand?

Just read Lori Gottlieb’s “What Brand is Your Therapist?” NY Times Magazine essay. It is a worthy read for all new (and some of you older) therapists out there. I say this not because I agree with her methods or goals (i.e., easy clients who don’t cry), but because it points to the need to sell/brand as a counselor.

Those of us who get into the helping business rarely think about these things. Lots of people need help. I want to help people. Voila, I can make a living helping those in need. To accomplish this goal, we spend most of our time in school trying to learn that art of therapeutic relationships, diagnostics, and intervention strategies.

All good, but something is missing! Your brand!

As Lori points out (or more specifically, her branding consultant),

“Nobody wants to buy therapy anymore,” Truffo told me. “They want to buy a solution to a problem.” This is something Truffo discovered in her own former private practice of 18 years, during which she saw a shift from people who were unhappy and wanted to understand themselves better to people who would come in “because they wanted someone else or something else to change,” she said. “I’d see fewer and fewer people coming in and saying, ‘I want to change.’ ”

There is truth here. Given the economy, given the culture, given the flood of counselors in some locations, therapists do need to find ways to let people know what they provide. And yes, selling is important. Preachers sell when they preach (otherwise, they should just read Scripture and sit down). So too, counselors sell to interested clients.

What is your brand?

Now, our sales need to be honest and accurate. We don’t sell quick fixes (though we might sell short-term solution focused interventions such as marriage tune ups or parent training). We don’t sell change we can’t deliver. But within these parameters, we ought to consider branding our work. My friend and career counselor, Pam Smith, encourages her clientele to develop elevator statements (be able to articulate what you do in the space and time of an elevator ride). I imagine that branding is similar.

  1. Can you articulate what kind of services you offer that make you unique? (Don’t overreach and make it sound like YOU are the IT factor; don’t put others down).
  2. Do you have a specialty (population, intervention, location, etc.)? Something that you do well? Do you know how to state your strengths in a confident manner?
  3. Can you frame counseling goals in such a way as to make them attractive to those who may have lost hope?
  4. Are you talking to referral sources (church leaders, schools, communities) and educating others about what you do well?

While developing a brand won’t make you a better therapist, the lack of some semblance of brand probably means few will find out what kind of therapist you really are. Don’t be turned off of branding just because there are those who care more about having a brand than actually doing something of value. Maybe a better way to think about it is to ask, “Lord, in what ways do you seem to be calling me to your mission?”


Filed under christian counseling, counseling, counseling skills

Skype counseling? Know of anyone doing it well?

I recently set up an acct with SKYPE to participate in an upcoming meeting. I’ve had past requests to use SKYPE in counseling people unable to come to the Philadelphia area. While I’m open to doing this (at least for brief consultations), there are a number of issues to resolve. I’m interested in hearing from readers having used it for counseling (feel free to remain anonymous). What was it like? How were confidentiality and informed consent handled? Was any mention of jurisdiction mentioned? Not sure what I mean, read on to consider these issues:

  1. Confidentiality & Privacy. Are SKYPE video conferences really private? What is the likelihood that someone can tap in?
  2. Informed Consent. Read any good Telehealth informed consent forms lately? Seems that you have to consider how to deal with crises that might be happening in another state. Insurances cannot be used. What about what files are maintained? I believe it is possible to record SKYPE calls.
  3. Jurisdiction. It is clear that licensed mental health practitioners must not practice in another jurisdiction (i.e., state) without getting licensed or approved for that jurisdiction. But what about consultations? What about Internet based interactions? Which state has jurisdiction? Some seem to think that the state of the “caller” is going to want to maintain control of the care of its citizens. Others think that informing “callers” that the point of service resides with the Counselor will be enough. Check out what they say at eCounseling.com.

This is what is known as a “Point-of-Service” issue. In our terms of service which both clients and counselors agree to upon eCounseling.com sign up, it states the following in section 5.8: 5.8 POINT-OF-SERVICE. For a client who resides outside their eCounselor’s state of residence and professional licensure, there is an important issue that should be understood by clients before counseling begins: By utilizing these counseling services, the client agrees that he or she is soliciting the services of a professional outside of his or her state of residence. By doing this, the client agrees that the “point-of-service” of counseling is to occur in the counselor’s state of residence and licensure, not the client’s. In essence, the client is using the telephone or the Internet (the “information highway”) to virtually travel to the counselor (the counselor’s state of professional practice). Hence, counselors are accountable to and agree to abide by the ethical and legal guidelines prescribed by their state of licensure and residence. By agreeing to solicit the counselor’s services, the client agrees to these terms. If you do not understand, or have any questions regarding this issue, please feel free to ask the counselor about this issue, or contact eCounseling.com support at support@ecounseling.com DISCLAIMER: The above should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about legality or liability, please contact a qualified legal professional.

What do you make of these issues?


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, Psychology