How do you name a private practice?
Naming your therapy practice can be a stressful endeavor, and is often one that delays people from moving onto the next steps in building a practice. First, we’ve got to relieve some of the pressure that we feel to come up with the “perfect” business name—one that you imagine you’ll be married to for the rest of your career. It’s not like that.
You just need a name that’s good enough.
There are a few different approaches you can take to naming a private practice, and part of your decision will rely on answering some preliminary questions:
- Will you ever hire someone else on to your practice?
- Do you think you’ll ever move or expand your practice?
- How much time, energy, or money are you willing to put into SEO?
- Would there ever be a situation in which you’d want to sell your practice?
Using your personal name:
If you think there’s any remote chance that you’d want to hire someone to join your practice eventually, that helps narrow your business name down a great deal because it means you won’t be using your name. I made this mistake in growing my first practice in San Francisco: John Clarke Therapy. I was smitten that www.johnclarketherapy.com was available! I’d never seen my name in a URL, and I imagined growing this amazing brand where people would recognize my name all over town, would read the best selling books I planned to write, and would hire me for all their keynote speeches.
But what other therapist would want to work for “John Clarke Therapy”?
My prospects for growing this business to include anyone beyond myself were really slim. I realized this after I had spent 2 years growing the website, hiring SEO consultants, and blogging my ass off. As you can imagine, I didn’t want to start all over again.
For these reasons, I always recommend against using your personal name when naming your therapy practice.
Using local or regional keywords:
If I knew when growing my first practice that I’d for sure stay in SF forever (which I didn’t), then it might have made sense to include a regional keyword in my business name. Probably something using words like “San Francisco,” “SF,” “Bay Area,” “SF Bay Area,” etc. Choosing a name with “Bay Area” or “SF Bay Area” would have been safer than “San Francisco” or just “SF,” because they could still logically allow me to open other offices in other parts of the Bay Area, rather than being limited to San Francisco.
On the other hand, using a keyword that would be TOO specific wouldn’t be ideal either. For instance, my office was in the Noe Valley area of San Francisco, and someone had already named their practice “Noe Valley Therapy” and claimed the associated domain name. This might be great for the purposes of SEO and people finding you more easily on Google, but what happens when your office building gets sold and you have to move to the adjacent Bernal Heights neighborhood? All of a sudden your business name doesn’t make sense, is confusing, and all the work you did to rank higher on Google for that particular neighborhood is down the drain.
Remember when I asked you how much you’d be able to invest in doing things to build your SEO? When I moved from San Francisco to Charlotte, I knew I’d have a ton of other things to take care of during this transition, and I wanted to use my new practice name as kick start to ranking higher on Google. I also wanted a name that was descriptive in itself—that didn’t necessarily need a tagline or a mission statement beside it every time you see the business name. Charlotte Counseling & Wellness contains two critical keywords that helped me grow fast: “Charlotte” and “counseling”. I knew that “therapy” is searched more often than “counseling,” but couldn’t find anything with the words “Charlotte” and “therapy” in a domain name that I liked. I think “wellness” is a nice word that further conveys the result of what we do in my practice, so I included that word in the business name. It also serves as an additional keyword if people are searching things like “Charlotte wellness centers,” etc.
Again, I also chose not to include my personal name in naming my new practice because not only would no one want to be hired at John Clarke Therapy, but they also wouldn’t want to purchase a business named John Clarke Therapy if I ended up moving again or eventually wanting to retire, etc. So this part of my decision making process was intuitive.
Conveying your brand:
What are some therapy practice names that you like? Do some Google searching for counseling in your area and take some notes. Which names are you drawn to? Which are self-descriptive? Which are confusing, and don’t read as a therapy practice? How would other people describe you, and the kind of clinical work that you do?
A lot of people choose to base their private practice name off of their vision or branding ideas—things like “Compassionate Therapy,” “Artistic Healing Counseling,” “New Leaf Counseling,” etc. Doing this is fine, but you’re not going to get that kick start in terms of SEO. You’re going to have to do more work, actually, to tell Google that you’re a therapy/counseling practice in Phoenix, AZ, etc. This isn’t too difficult, but it takes a little time and you’ll probably want to get some help from a good SEO person. You may also need to rely more heavily on things like blogging to show Google that your site is relevant and thriving. If you’re really attached to a certain non-regional keyword (like “healing, renew, discovery, compassion,” etc.), you can definitely make this work with some diligence and a little help. The benefit to a name like this is also that if you ever move, you could take it with you. It could also be argued that a name like this lends itself better to creating a memorable brand and feel, whereas names like “San Diego Counseling Center” have a generic and forgettable feel to them. Finally, if you only serve one particular population, you could consider some combination of what I’ve described her, like “Charlotte Teen Therapy,” or “Compassionate Couples Therapy,” etc.
Whatever name you choose, make a firm decision and commit to it! Don’t get held up by trying to think of the “perfect” business name. Eventually, no matter what, you’ll grow into it and it’ll feel like you. Even a name you feel mediocre about can be really enhanced with some excellent logo and web design where your brand can be conveyed through colors, texts, and copy. Good luck naming your private practice!
John Clarke, MA, EdS, NCC, LPC is a licensed psychotherapist and a private practice expert. He has built thriving practices from the ground up in San Francisco, CA and Charlotte, NC. In building his current practice, he had 6 private-pay clients booked for the first day that his doors were open.
Get in touch today for a free initial consultation to learn how private practice consulting can help you take your business to the next level.