Friday, November 23, 2012

There are "Brands" of Therapists?

The New York Times has a article by Lori Gottlieb on "What Brand is Your Therapist?" 
The article is about therapists who can't fill their practices, so they start sub-specializing, having glitzier websites, marketing through social media, and consult with specialists about how to gain their market share.  The author is clearly a bit uncomfortable -- the new therapy world demands Facebook pages, blogs, self-disclosure, specializing, coaching, helping patients to feel good in just one session, and isn't about higher goals of understanding motivations and meaningful change.  We're a feel good society, Gottlieb contends.  

Even so, most therapists I know are becoming aware that they need to project more than a tabula rasa. Roth suggested to me that in addition to creating a Web site, therapists should set up Facebook and Twitter accounts (she gives instructions on how to create social-media boundaries, like whether you’ll respond to clients’ posts), blogs, real-time appointment schedulers, teletherapy that’s compliant with federal privacy rules and other features that allow potential clients, she said, “to feel personally connected to you at all times.”
I felt my stomach lurch. I had just learned in graduate school why the formal structure of the 50-minute session works so well: It gives people a designated space and context in which to delve into difficult issues and then leave safely, without wounds exposed. I’d also seen firsthand, by making rookie mistakes during my internship, how breaking “the frame” can interfere with treatment. Constant communication can create a false sense of friendship and also undermine the development of coping skills: the ability to tell the difference between normal states of sadness or anxiety that pass and a true state of emergency. If clients need more, my supervisors always said, they should increase their weekly sessions, not be in touch in between.
I told Roth I had no desire to tweet daily aphorisms or to blog for my patients. “Let’s just focus on the Web site,” I said, “no bells and whistles.” She had two recommendations: addressing viewers in a video on the home page (“to move forward that first meeting in the office”) and coming up with “connecting questions” to bring in my to-be-determined target demographic. She gave me some examples: Is your daughter making choices you’re worried about? Would you like your partner to do more of some things and less of others? Are there people in your life you’d like to say no to? I’d also need a specific tag line, like “Make your home a happier place” (for parents with unruly teenagers) or “Find your way back to love” (for disgruntled couples).
“People want to see the therapist who fits their exact situation,” Susan Giurleo, a branding consultant outside Boston, told me.

So what brand of shrink do you think is best?