Whether you love to write but don’t know how to market, or you are grossed out by marketing but know it’s important, I think a great way to get out of your head and professional life is to step back into another world. My example today is about ACE on Facebook. It’s the American Counseling on Exercise certification organization and I decided getting tips like “Are fresh veggies better than frozen?” seemed useful and engaging so I follow them. (Important note: they are doing all this to promote exercise, encourage trainers to become ACE certified, and as public awareness building. Therapists always have a two legged stool: promote mental health generally and promote themselves.)
I am not in shape but don’t need to lose weight. (I’d LOSE weight if I worked out, and that would be nice, but I’m naturally thin.) One of my many reasons for not working out is that I have weird medical problems. And I have a lot of bias against personal trainers. (Read: prospective clients have a lot of bias about mental health and therapists.)
Just like millions of people who search therapy directories do, I am on the ACE locator for a personal trainer. I may or may not do anything about it, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to look. And who knows, it’ll either reinforce my various stereotypes or defy them and get me to DO something. So let me walk you through some tips that apply to therapists just as they do to this list of personal trainers who, according to the options I’m given to chose from for my needs, deal with “special populations.” Shucks, don’t I feel special.
This is the list, which opens in a new window. Maybe you should glance through yourself then read my commentary below.
The very first person caught my eye. She has advanced training. She has an extremely pleasant photo that is bright, airy, and she is smiling. Her age is good for me, as my bias is towards the “older and wiser” when it comes to someone empathizing with my chronological age (34) not matching my abilities (really bad knees and low blood pressure problems triggered by….being hot. Not a great combo with working out.)
As you scroll down the list, do you see why a photo is so important? I don’t bother opening the non-photo profiles. And some of the photos seem very random, even if they are fitness people who would be boating or on the beach as fit people do. I guess I want someone who doesn’t just like boating, but someone who understands as a PROFESSIONAL TRAINER, they have a “business hat” on. Same thing applies to therapists. I talk at great length about photos in my upcoming E-book on therapy profiles. Suffice it to say, PHOTOS MATTER.
Now let’s go into that first person’s profile. I’ve read all the profiles of the ones with photos who live near me, and this line sticks out. She says:
I meet with residents regularly and design programs for people with physical limitations.
You’d think by clicking on “special populations” that all these therapists would talk about that group. But they don’t. Just like therapists who click on countless “specialties” and don’t ever discuss it on the profile. If you love it so much, why aren’t you even giving one sentence about it? It makes me want to keep on reading the competitors of yours to find someone who may actually say something. In this case, I am shouting AMEN! to my computer screen. By golly, I think she’ll get me and work well with my limitations!
The down side is she has no website, but it appears most personal trainers don’t. Another happy looking woman I may call does have a website, but it’s extremely dated. It’s like a time warp back to the late 1990’s. Fortunately I forgive her as at least she HAS a website.
As I go through this list all my emotions come up, just like they do for prospective clients seeking therapists…things like:
will this person be respectful of who I am?
will this person push me more than I’m ready?
will this person understand my unique constraints with time, money, and mental head space to add something new to my already busy life?
will this person be proud of my tiny victories or have me shoot for such crazy goals that I’ll never feel like I measure up?
will this person make me feel like a loser?
how long will it take to actually get the education I need to do this on my own?
can I get my husband involved? will that make it more cost effective or useful (this applies to a lot of mental health issues – get the spouse educated and on the support team as a spouse works through some major mental health issue!)
what if I can’t even do the basic expectations and shock her at my horrid fitness level?
If you’re good at working out, then maybe you should consider going to a website for another industry you don’t know as much about. You’ll feel vulnerable and come up with a lot of questions. Then you can watch if and how businesses actually address them. (Examples I can think of include home re modelers or residential architects, real estate agents, dentists, insurance of all kinds, buying a new computer….)