"Helping people who help people"

This post is my “coming out party.”  It’s the most unimpressive party ever because I am announcing to the world that I want to be a therapist!  My friends are all saying, “uh, duh?”  or “Finally!”  One friend admitted that when I announced this news, she forgot in her head that I had never actually said I was going to be a therapist.  She simply knew that was part of my future.

However, for ME, it’s been a slow, swirling process of late that culminated in a “thunderbolt” date with my husband.  I asked him in almost a resigned manner, “so, should I be a therapist??”  His reaction, then my reaction to his reaction, then a long conversation… created that thunderbolt moment where you’re never the same again.  Reading two great books and more soul searching later, I have been going public!  The first book I read was Letters to a Young Therapist (Art of Mentoring) by Mary Pipher.  In pursuit at the book store for the classic On Becoming a Counselor: A Basic Guide for Nonprofessional Counselors and Other Helpers I happened to see another book that caught my eye.  And yes, it had a better design which is important!  I ended up buying On Being a Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler.

I’m now reading The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science which has been very interesting.  The talk about psychotherapy and the brain is interesting, though I have a feeling some would strongly disagree with some of the analysis in the book.  Even if the ENTIRE book is barely truth, I am enjoying it.  The science is important because I am not a “life coach” sort of person and I really need to wrestle with the idea of what therapy is in its truest form and feel good about articulating how and why it works and my desired goal(s) in that profession.

So the title of this post is the idea or the website?  I won’t even be applying for graduate school until this coming winter, to be admitted the fall of 2011.  Then two years have to pass before I can even pursue private practice.  So does this mean I sit and wait or can I do anything about my future private practice, web-wise?

I’ve already been writing down potential website names, noodling on their short term vs long term viability (based on what the heck I end up wanting to REALLY do post-graduation.)  And yes, I’ve been having loads of fun creating OUTRAGEOUS website names that I’d never actually use.  The crazy thing is there is nothing to say I can’t actually start building a website while in graduate school.  Or even today as I am absorbing a lot of books on areas I find interesting.  I could get some great content on this new website with all the book reviews and ruminations, maybe get a fun blog going.  The idea would not be to “convert” people into my practice, but to slowly build content, collect emails from people who find me interesting, see if I can find readers who are interested in what I have to say, and potentially have “guest articles” written by people in the various areas I’m contemplating.  Or even just the “journey to becoming a therapist” may interest some people.

Now for some of you this sounds worse than poking your ear drums with a toothpick.  Why would you EVER go through all that effort without getting money in the end???  Here are a few reasons:

If I can get the website to exist online and do all the things I teach (content building, linking from other websites, using the right keywords) then Google will know I exist.

  • Google also loves “older” websites. The newer the site the more likely your email will get put in people’s spam folders, if it’s not outright rejected.  The reason is spam websites newly exist on day 1, blast 1,000’s of emails, then vanish.   There is  a date tied to your domain name, and email programs don’t like new ones.  I’ve had this problem with every website I’ve owned.  Google takes time to rank your website high for the area you are claiming to know something about.
  • If I can build an interesting website and/or blog, I will get fantastic input from people as I pursue my graduate studies and contemplate my various interests.  How cool would it be to consider X or Y idea and have real people (who might be the people you’d want as clients), giving you feedback.
  • People love real people talking about mental health.  Professionals are trusted, but “real people” can seem more down to earth and relatable.  If I can actually be both a “citizen professional” and a therapist some day, I will resonate with more people and have maintained my “real person” voice as I get indoctrinated into the world of psychotherapy.  For example, the psychology of money is fascinating to me and I have a lot of personal stories I can share to demonstrate why I find nearly all financial educators advice falls flat.  (But before I make that blanket statement I will have read a lot of books, done book reviews, and explain where I see the gaps.  I’ve already read one money book this weekend that left me cold…even though it’s a very public money expert)
  • If I have a “future home of my private practice” online, it allows me to reference that website and start to be known “over there.”  Right now my voice is one of internet guru and marketer.  Where would I send people I start networking with, therapist-to-prospective-therapist?  Or people I talk to in the community as I build relationships for potential therapy business services?  Or my future fellow students?  It would be to this new website.
  • From a “branding” standpoint, few of my customers and professional contacts know the “real me” in my professional interests.  This website would let me bridge in a new way, the people I know, the resources they can offer me (books or people to connect with, etc.)  I think I’m a rather interesting soul… but right now I’m quite restricted to “website marketing.”  Blah blah blah, right!  I become one-dimensional.

So there you have it.  Strategic, long-term, marketing reasons to find a home online.  And as the Domains CD talks about, there are pros and cons to using your own name.   Right now I own my own name and there are reasons (some mentioned above) why I am not likely to use that website for professional therapy purposes.  And in case you’re interested in the website name training…it is as much business consulting and strategy building as what you may THINK of as “just the name.”

Domain Names: Is your name helping or hurting? Price: $49.99

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