Struggling to find the right words for your therapist profile? Use this guide.
You have 200 words to prove your worth as a therapist. If you don’t do it right, your entire future as a clinician could be in jeopardy. Go!
That’s quite an exaggeration, but I know plenty of people who feel this way about writing their online therapy profiles. Not to worry—help is here. (Want to skip ahead? Get this free worksheet with prompts and a sample profile.)
A Psychology Today profile is used by many therapists to advertise their services. This listing is the largest directory of mental health professionals in the world.
It’s an opportunity to market yourself in a place where people are actively seeking you out. It can also be challenging to compete with a wall of other profiles.
This article covers the basics of writing your profile and includes examples of how you can connect with your ideal clients and start expanding your practice.
Part of the struggle is that most therapists weren’t English majors as undergrads. Who knew so much writing would be involved in having a private practice?
With my therapy and journalism background, I help therapists write or edit their profiles while maintaining their own sincerity and personality. Here’s the secret sauce I use to attract attention and get calls.
This method is based on the popular Storybrand marketing strategy by Donald Miller. I particularly like his book Marketing Made Simple. Experts around the world use this process, which I'll touch more on below. I’ve adapted this practice for writing PT profiles.
To illustrate how I put these together, let’s consider Sally’s case. She’s been trying to write her profile for weeks, but has been putting it off. Finally frustrated enough, she asks for help.
First, here’s a little background about her.
Sally recently completed her licensure and is opening a private practice. Sally has the following qualifications:
Top of her graduate class
Completed two practicums in family counseling and is trained in The Gottman Method
Worked three years at a counseling center with individuals, couples, and families
She has the following interests:
Working with young couples dealing with the growing pains
Helping couples learn to deal with conflict and resentment
Helping families going through grief or trauma
Sally has these motivations:
She enjoys seeing couples make breakthroughs
She particularly likes to work with couples who’ve been together or married five years or less
She likes to provide evidence-based therapies like The Gottman Method
Knowing this information, I would ask Sally the following questions to help her develop her profile. I’ve included her answers as well.
Q. What are the most common problems your clients come in with, or what do you imagine they will be struggling with?
A. They’ve been trying to avoid conflict and fighting in their relationship, but eventually blow up at each other. This has become a pattern. They fear the relationship won’t work anymore.
Q. How do you help with this problem?
A. I teach them about resentment and how to work through conflicts in a healthy way. They will learn how to talk to each other differently. They will learn to enjoy each other again.
Q. How will your client feel, or what will they experience, when your services help them?
They will have a closer relationship. They will stop arguing all the time and understand how healthy, successful relationships work.
Q. What is your own clinical personality like? Are you fun and creative, energetic, blunt, etc.?
A. I’m told I have a calming effect. I can stay calm during a very difficult session and provide comfort.
With this targeted information, I can help Sally develop her profile. We need to work the relevant information into a limited space while structuring the content in a way that attracts clients and doesn’t have them moving on to the next profile.
It might seem counterintuitive, but this is not the place to list all of your credentials, degrees, and qualifications. For one thing, the space is too limited for that. And for another, people respond to how you can help them with their problems, and how your service will make them feel.
Instead, paint a picture of your potential customer’s story, before and after they make use of what you offer. Set your client up as the hero of the story, and yourself as the guide.
Set your client up as the hero of the story, and yourself as the guide.
With this Storybrand process in mind, here’s how I generally structure therapist profiles.
1. First Paragraph: See Your Clients
What are they going through and why? Normalize/validate the experience without minimizing it. Show where they’re starting, and where they’ll go.
2. Second Paragraph: Touch on How You Help
Explain the therapy process very briefly, but still keep it focused on the client experience, not yours. Highlight what they will feel once your services work. Avoid jargon--as much as we might dislike it as clinicians, most people don’t care about terms like “evidence-based,” or “training.”
3. Third Paragraph: Close it Up
Add some of your personality, qualifications (briefly) and include a call to action. (What should they do next?)
So, a final version may sound something like this:
Have you been avoiding fights with your partner? Do you feel like you’re both walking on eggshells, trying not to blow up? This can be very painful, and it’s common for new couples, especially in the first few years. Unfortunately, many people learn to avoid all conflicts in relationships. This can lead to resentment, which can cause more frequent fighting and lead to long-term problems.
I offer an effective therapy called The Gottman Method. It helps couples learn how to have a happier relationship. We’ll work through your patterns, and I’ll help you and your partner learn new ways to communicate with each other. Couples who complete this process often come out seeing each other differently. Not only will you develop communication skills, but you may feel even closer and learn to see each other in a whole new way.
My job is to be the calming center while you and your partner grow together. As a clinical social worker and therapist, I’ve worked with many couples and families struggling with negative patterns, high conflict, and grief. My passion is helping couples and families get to the rewarding parts of being together. Contact me today for a free consultation and we’ll get started on your journey together!
What did you notice about this profile? Does the introduction feel different than this sample below?
I’ve trained for the past three years in The Gottman Method. I’m now a level 2, working toward level 3. I’ve worked with dozens of clients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I believe in an evidence-based approach that focuses on your strengths …
See the difference? There’s nothing wrong with either profile. In the past, I wrote many of my own bios like this second example. But which would you be more drawn to as a client?
If you’d like some support putting your own profile together, check out this worksheet that will walk you through the process. You can also hire me to write your profile for you, based on your own goals, values, personality, and ideal client.
Leverage Your Listing
On average, someone needs to be exposed to a product or service eight times before they decide to buy. Marketing experts call these exposures “touches.”
Think of the last time you made a big purchase or paid for something like a car or a substantial training course. How many times did you look it up, check out the company, talk to others about it, or hear about it word of mouth?
Now imagine how much exposure someone considering therapy needs to experience before they make a decision, or even contact a therapist.
Your clients are likely to take some time to think about you and what you provide before reaching out, even after they see your profile.
Here are some other touchpoints you can use to enhance the effectiveness of your profile, and to use it to support your other marketing efforts.
1. Therapy Website
Your website can serve multiple purposes. It could simply be a page to refer people to for information, a place for potential clients to reach out to you, a place to send advertising to, or a place to make use of content marketing.
This is when you provide quality information to your audience, typically through regular blogging. This quality information helps you show up more regularly in online searches--this is what they call SEO. Many of my contacts from clients have come from the contact form on my site.
2. Google My Business Listing
Believe it or not, I’ve gotten just as many contacts from new or potential clients through my Google listing as anything else. It’s important not to overlook this tool and make use of it as much as possible.
3. Other therapists.
At some point, most people who stick to private practice end up with a full caseload from time to time. They will be looking for other high-quality therapists to refer to. They may also look for specialists in certain areas, such as those you provide. This can be a major source of client referrals.
4. Related Professionals
Over time, others will likely learn about you from other clients and your mutual colleagues. I recommend building these relationships naturally, through professional Facebook groups, CEU workshops, and other networking events. If you provide excellent service, you may also accomplish this through clients raving about you to their other providers.
5. Word of Mouth
The clients who find the most benefit from your services will likely speak highly of you to their friends, family, and others. There are also “superfans,” who will speak your praises to everyone they can. This is simply a matter of providing great service, mixed with enough time and a bit of luck.
Get Marketing Help
At some point, it becomes cost-efficient to outsource some or all of your marketing work. Writing may not be your thing, or you may be spending time on it that should be devoted to your actual practice. In that case, it may be time to find help.
There are plenty of people who offer writing and blogging services, but they may not have experience or success. Or they may be good at marketing, with little to no understanding of the nuances and ethics related to mental health services.
I’m happy to fill in that gap. I’m a licensed, practicing therapist with a journalism degree. I can help you write your Psychology Today profile, help you get started with SEO, add to your blog content, and more. Visit here to hire me.