Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Psychotherapy: Branding or product problem?

Time Magazine    In a recent Sunday’s  NY Times article a psychotherapist with a freshly hung shingle describes the challenges of earning clients in a market crowded with professionals willing to listen, but with a dwindling number of patients. Her solution? Turning to a “branding consultant” who advises her, among other things, to sell herself as a specialist treating a particular type of patient and to start doing “life coaching” instead. But the trend toward “branding” may be diverting attention away from deeper problems with psychotherapy that are dissuading people from trying it and discouraging insurers from paying for sessions.

In the article, therapist Lori Gottlieb writes:
    What nobody taught me in grad school was that psychotherapy, a practice that had sustained itself for more than a century, is losing its customers. If this came as a shock to me, the American Psychological Association tried to send out warnings in a 2010 paper titled, “Where Has all the Psychotherapy Gone?”

    According to the author, 30 percent fewer patients received psychological interventions in 2008 than they did 11 years earlier; since the 1990s, managed care has increasingly limited visits and reimbursements for talk therapy but not for drug treatment…Three months into private practice, I had exactly four regular weekly clients.

Her branding consultant tells her “Nobody wants to buy therapy anymore. They want to buy a solution to a problem.” [...]

[However] If therapists like Gottlieb want to attract patients, they need to consider that sometimes the problem isn’t the branding, but the product itself.

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