I’ve been studying branding for therapists for some time now, and I can’t deny the appeal of honing in on one area of expertise, or one target audience. These days, there are two branding trends in the mental health field: the niche and the personal brand. The niche is a specific area of practice that typically requires extra training and/or leads to a certification. The personal brand is a specific message emerging from the life experience of the therapist. In this post, I focus on the personal brand, because I’m seeing a lot of therapists adopt compelling personal brands that focus their work and increase their influence.
But first, I want to take some time to debunk the powerful myth that in order to survive financially and help as many people as possible, therapists must be general practitioners. Okay, I suppose I am not going to debunk the myth in one paragraph, but I can at least hope to be a part, with you, of a larger conversation about changing trends in therapy practice. We therapists are proving daily that the more focused our work, the more influence it generates, because it attracts the right client. And, it is the right client that needs what only we, with our unique life experience, can offer.
To clarify, the therapists featured in this post did not target their work in an effort to fill their appointment books because their practices were failing. No. They focused their work as a result of personal experience that left them marked. You could say it “branded” them, and they couldn’t help but show it.
Sarah Argenal, Certified Personal Development Coach
Working Parent Resource, workingparentresource.com
Sarah trained as a marriage and family therapist, but chose not to pursue licensure as an LMFT in favor of becoming a certified coach. She offers resources and programs for busy parents on her site, workingparentresource.com. She came to her personal brand from her own experience as a new parent and her struggles finding much needed support. Sarah’s mission is to save other busy professionals from suffering as they transition into parenthood. Read more about Sarah’s journey here.
Celeste Williams Coffman, LPC
Thoughtful Journey Counseling, thoughtfuljourneycounseling.com
Quiet Mind Collective, quietmindcollective.com
Celeste developed Thoughtful Journey Counseling after her personal struggles trying to balance the demands of work and family. Those struggles led her to design a practice centered on helping people live less stressed. Celeste recently launched a membership site, quietmindcollective.com, for those in need of resources and encouragement for stress and anxiety management. Read more about Celeste, and learn more about her services here.
Keli Gooch, LPC
Call the Counselor, keligooch.com
Keli is a writer and mental health professional. She has a day job in her local school system, and she also writes about “ending the mental health and disability stigma.” She comes by this passion through personal experience--she is a mother to Tayler, her beautiful 14 year old daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Keli is an advocate for families, children, as well as mental health professionals, and through this process, she contributes to a powerful movement of education and healing. Find out more about Keli and her work here.
Chris Hoff, PhD, LMFT
Chris Hoff Counseling, chrishoffcounseling.com
The Radical Therapist Podcast, theradicaltherapist.com
Chris is “searching for the real, not the truth” in his daily counseling and consulting work, as well as his podcast conversations. A Narrative practitioner, Chris has followed his path of discovery to innovative service offerings, including Narrative community work, counseling for creatives, and executive coaching. Chris is an artist, a businessman, and a social entrepreneur, among other things. These varied interests are felt in his online presence and heard on his podcast. He epitomizes the fact that our personal experience beautifies our work and creates unlimited possibilities. Learn more about Chris, the radical therapist, here.
Kristen A. Tolbert, Ed.D., LMHC
Kristen Tolbert is a success coach working with job seekers, entrepreneurs, and those looking to reinvent their careers. She founded her current services on collaboration and empowerment after realizing that her core values did not align with the pathologizing culture of the mental health field. She took her burnout and disillusion and turned it into a practice that guides and encourages people to create professional success from career obstacles. Kristen is based in the South Florida area. Read more about her here.
Guy MacPherson, Ph.D.
The Trauma Therapist Project, thetraumatherapistproject.com
After taking part in a survival experience in the mountains of Utah, Guy discovered his calling: “To help individuals who are in dire situations discover their strength and thrive.” A trained psychologist and trauma expert, Guy chose to apply his knowledge to the professional development of emerging and established trauma therapists. Today, he offers one-on-one coaching, education, and support for trauma therapists through the Trauma Therapist Project. Learn more about Guy and his programs here.
Joe Sanok, LPC
Practice of the Practice, practiceofthepractice.com
Joe helps other therapists increase their income by teaching them how to develop thriving practices. He began blogging about the process of starting and building his private practice in 2012. As a result of allowing other therapists to witness his challenges and learn how he overcame them, he now has a busy consulting business that involves podcasting, training, marketing, speaking, and writing. Joe offers very specific strategies for not only growing a private practice, but also developing an online following. Learn more about Joe here.
Kathy Bornarth, LPC
Journaling 4 Faith, journaling4faith.com
Kathy is a Christian counselor with a private practice in North Carolina. Several years ago, she began sharing the benefits of journaling with others through blogging. Her knowledge and passion for journaling comes from her 25 year practice of personal and faith journaling. She now offers journaling workshops, coaching, writing prompts, and other resources on her site, journaling4faith.com. Kathy turned a daily habit that sustained her personal and spiritual growth into a service to others that enhances her counseling practice. Check out Kathy’s programs here.
If you’re interested in how you can use a specific experience in your life to expand your reach, then check out what these counselors are doing. I hope they have served as inspiration, or at least, food for thought.
- What are your initial thoughts about personal branding?
- Are you using it now? If so, how?
- Which story resonated with you the most?
Let me know in the comments below.