What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet. — Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene II
Most behavioral health professionals use their own name to name their practice. Others create names that might sound good, but fall short when it comes to creating a memorable and relevant image of your business. How should you choose a name for your therapy practice?
Does the name for your therapy practice matter?
It depends. The name of your therapy practice matters if:
- You consider your behavioral health practice an asset
- You want to attract more of the right clients
- You want to build your brand and ultimately have more financial success
Your therapy practice as an asset
Many artisans, craftsmen, and professionals such as accountants, counselors, and doctors make the mistake of believing that they are the business. While they have the responsibilities of being a business owner, in fact, they haven’t created a business as much as they’ve created a job. They work for themselves, but rather than running the business, they’re an employee of it.
There’s a famous (and highly recommended) business book called The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. In that book, author Michael Gerber defines the “E-Myth” as follows:
- the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs
- the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work
Many practitioners don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs and, while they may be very skilled at providing therapy, they might not be as fluent in how to run a business. It’s a completely different skill. (If you want to learn more about becoming a therapist entrepreneur, check out our article 5 steps to becoming a successful therapist entrepreneur.)
Essentially, viewing your therapy business as an asset means that you aren’t just an employee, you are considering the long term success of the business; you’re thinking about how you might be able to sell your practice in the future. If you’re ambitious, you might be thinking about how you can expand your practice, add employees, and grow. Even if you’re just a one-woman or one-man shop at the moment, viewing your practice as an asset (as opposed to a job,) means that you’re going to be thinking for the future of your business. Thinking of that future means considering how to build value around your brand.
For example, what if you wanted to move to a new country, state or region? Of course with online therapy, that’s becoming easier than ever before, but the majority of your business is generally with your in-office clients. When you have a name that isn’t your name, selling the practice becomes a lot easier!
Attracting more clients to your therapy practice
If you want to attract more clients to your practice, of course you’ll have to market. We write about this extensively, so if you want to read more about marketing your behavioral health practice, check out our Therapist Marketing topic. You can also have a look at my book on iBooks, The Therapist Guide to Online Marketing for an even more exhaustive look at online marketing for your therapy practice.
When it comes to a name, despite Shakespeare’s protestations, the name is everything! John Smith, Ph.D isn’t quite as catchy as LA Family Therapy. LA Family Therapy tells potential clients what to expect from the business, while John Smith, Ph.D doesn’t tell you anything. Assuming both names represent a family therapist in Los Angeles, what name do you think will get more inquires?
Building your therapy practice brand
Building the brand for your practice is closely related to what we’ve already discussed, but ultimately building your practice brand is what enables you to more effectively build your business — whether your goal is simply to make more money or eventually expanding, growing and ultimately exiting your business by selling it. No matter what your goal, building your brand is important and, it starts with the name.
How to name your therapy practice
It comes down to answering a simple question:
What do I want potential clients to think when they hear the name of my business?
That question could be extended:
“What promise am I making to my potential client with my practice’s name?”
In the previous example of LA Family Therapy, it is crystal clear what the expectations are. Imagine “Manage Anger Now” compared to “Evergreen Counseling.” Evergreen Counseling sounds more “therapyish” however, it’s worthless. I guarantee that Manage Anger Now would do far better, all things being equal than Evergreen Counseling. A friend of mine a few years ago started a practice called Yes Therapy Helps and had great success marketing. It was actually a great name because it built upon the innate skepticism many of the public has about the value of talk therapy.
Tips on naming your therapy practice
- Think of radio — if the name would sound good on the radio, then it’s potentially a contender. Avoid words with ambiguous spellings. Ensure that your name “pops” when people say it over the phone (or on the radio.) Manage Anger Now is a great name for an anger management practice because it’s concise, easy to say and can’t be confused.
- Think of the Internet — be sure you pick a name that has an available domain! Avoid .org, .co or some of the other less common domains. Also, as with the radio rules, avoid anything ambiguous. Sometimes you’ll be telling people your domain name over the phone. Make it easy.
- Think of your niche — If you’re a Los Angeles family therapist, LA Family Therapy is a pretty swell name. If you’re in anger management, Manage Anger Now is spectacular. If you help kids, perhaps “The Kid Whisperer.” If you’re a depression expert, then maybe “Depression Stoppers.” When you’re considering “Evergreen Counseling” vs. “Depression Stoppers,” who do you think is going to get more calls? If you ran a radio advertisement saying, “Are you depressed? Depression Stoppers can help.” It’s memorable, that’s for sure. And memorable is good.
Do you need to rename your practice?
If you’re doing pretty well already and you’re happy with the name you’re using, then certainly stick with it! Especially if you’ve built up a following and your practice name already has community credibility. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. However, if you’re starting a new private practice or you’re relatively unknown and/or struggling, certainly consider a refresh of your name as part of your overall marketing plan.
Do you have a great name for your therapy practice? Share it in the comments!