Mental Health Providers: Their Negative View of Marketing and Self-Promotion

By Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP
November 8, 2016 - Last updated: November 6, 2016

mental health provider advertisingRecently, a board member of a state counseling association to which I was about to present a day-long seminar on practice management and marketing said she was uncomfortable with “advertising” my books and with my “attitude of self-promotion.” If I am guilty of “advertising” and “self-promotion,” so be it.  I am not ashamed.

The mindset of many mental health providers, most especially my fellow psychologists, is that we are too good for “advertising,” “self-promotion” or “marketing.” Somehow these activities are beneath us – even unprofessional.

For example, only in recent years has the American Psychological Association (APA) certified continuing education credits for seminars specific to “practice development.” Many clinicians still have a negative view of marketing.

I fervently challenge this attitude. The old adage: “Build a better mouse trap and the world will come to your door,” simply is untrue. You may design a new and better mouse trap, but if no one knows about your invention, you will not be able to distribute it.

You cannot help the client you don’t see. You may be an excellent clinician. Yet, if only a few persons know of you, you won’t be successful and many clients will not get the benefit of your services.

Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D., MD., NP., MA., MED, MC, MSW, MFT, LPC, LCSW, etc.. Psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, analyst, clinician, counselor, marriage and family therapist, family therapist, social worker, coach etc. Therapy, counseling, psychotherapy, CBT, DBT, psychoanalysis, analysis, EMDR, family of origin work, solution-focused treatment, medication management etc.

Above, are the credentials and titles of professionals who offer private mental health services and the types of services that can be provided.

Obviously, the average client/patient cannot differentiate among all these providers or comprehend the various forms of treatment. They likely will be lost in the “alphabet soup” and will be incapable of appreciating one provider over another.

Unless you promote yourself, deserving clients will likely not find you in the morass of initials, titles and services. The other day, while channel surfing, I very briefly watched an infomercial for a vacuum cleaner. The emcee did not say that I should buy this vacuum cleaner because it was as good as any other cleaner. Instead, the emcee said I should buy it because it was the best vacuum available today.

Providers of mental health services must promote themselves to rise above the “alphabet soup.” We need to let potential clients know of our training, experience and expertise. Why would any client select a therapist unless that client believed that professional was distinctive and special in some way?

To stand out from the crowd, mental health providers can and should do things that “brand” them as “experts” – such as write articles, speak on the radio, speak professionally or write a book etc. By engaging in such activities you are advertising and self-promoting – all in a professional, ethical manner. If you won’t promote yourself, who will?

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Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who practiced in Phoenix for nearly 40 years, working with children, adolescents, parents, adults and couples and provided forensic consultations in family law, personal injury and estate planning. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations and fellow mental health professionals, particularly on practice development, and teaches graduate courses for the Educational Psychology Department for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of several books, including Who’s Raising Whom? A Parent’s Guide to Effective Child Discipline, Coping with Your Adolescent. Other titles can be found on his website: Waldman may be reached at 602-996-8619 or

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