Starting a Practice

How to Name Your Therapy Practice

Headshot of Brandon Grill
June 10, 2024
June 10, 2024
Brandon Grill
Content Writer

Why is choosing a therapy or practice name so hard?

Many new practice owners struggle to find a name that feels right, isn’t taken, abides by the law, and conveys a good message.

There are also long-term considerations like expanding or selling your practice.

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Five types of names for your mental health practice

According to Joe Sanok from Practice of the Practice, there are five types of therapy practice names. Here’s a brief overview.

Location-Based

Choosing a name that’s tied to a location has its pros and cons. If you plan on sticking to one location, this can be a good idea. But you don’t want to name your practice “Boston Grief Therapy” if you plan on expanding outside of Boston.

Choosing a location-based name is a good move for local SEO. That’s because having a location-based name sends a signal to Google that says, “I’m in Boston, so recommend me to people in Boston who are looking for therapy services.”

However, including location info in your name isn’t the only way to boost Local SEO and show up in the Google Map Pack.


Specialty-Based

This works well if you have a major specialty. For example, “Therapy for Older Couples.” Consider this one carefully, as your interests as a therapist may change with time. Also, you may tire of seeing one type of client every session.

The upside is that a specialty-based name can be good for your overall branding, as well as SEO. Another example could be “LBGTQ Therapists of Maine.” That would help you show up for both “LGBTQ therapy” and “Therapist in Maine” search results.


Process-Based

Sometimes people are set on a particular modality. They may have heard that EMDR is very effective and think it will help them. Others may want art therapy for their children, and still others are searching for ketamine therapy.

You can use a process-based name like “Healing EMDR Therapy” or “Butterfly Art Therapy” to attract these types of clients. EMDR in particular is a popular modality, so including this in your name can be great for SEO.


Personality-Based

This type of practice name leaves room for your uniqueness. A good example is White Pine Recovery in Utah. The owner Jon Taylor chose this name based on his childhood experiences camping in high elevations, where White Pines grow. Also, he loves them as a metaphor for flexible strength.

We’ll get into a brainstorming process in a later section. For now, know that choosing a name simply because you like it or because it has personal significance is a good choice.

Name-Based

Unless you’re already famous, most marketers would not recommend using your name as your practice name. That’s because it limits you in too many ways.

For one, if your practice is named after you, new clients will only want to see you. They won’t want to see any other therapist you have working at your practice because they expected to see you. Expanding on that point, using your personal name will hinder your ability to fill a group practice.

For another, your name isn’t going to help you with SEO. It would be much better to choose a name that lends itself to SEO success, like “Trauma Center of Atlanta.”

Lastly, using your name as your business name will make it very hard to sell your practice down the line.

Three common pitfalls when naming your practice

I asked Robert Sauter, VP of Owned & Earned Media at Cardinal Digital Marketing, for some insight about naming a practice.

“Naming your practice is as much an art as it is a science,” he told me. “You’re creating an asset that’s not only responsible for connecting with patients, being memorable, and standing out but also creating a key and central element to your digital presence.”

With that said, here are three common pitfalls you should avoid when choosing a practice name.

Failure to Stand Out

In the therapy marketing space, there seems to be a narrow margin for innovation. Most practices use similar names, themes, color palettes, and messaging. 

As Sauter put it, “Too often in the health space we see the same value propositions, the same basic color schemes, logos, and yes, even brand names.”

But what’s the point of branding if you don’t stand out from the crowd? And how can you avoid the pitfall of being too similar to every other practice?

Finally, how can you choose a name that sets you apart as one-of-one in your area and field?

“Really answer carefully why a patient should and would select your practice,” Sauter advised. “Let that uniqueness reflect in your name.”

Try not to overthink it. Get feedback from peers, patients, family, and others. Come up with multiple options, aiming for simple yet memorable.

We’ll narrow it down and help you choose one in an upcoming section.

Skipping SEO and Competitor Research

Another pitfall you want to avoid is thinking research isn’t worth the time.

On the contrary, a little SEO and competitor research now can save you a lot of work and headache later. It’s very much worth the 1-2 hours that it takes.

As Sauter told me, you’ll want to do keyword research to see what demand already exists. 

“Demand represents the search market, understanding what people are looking for, what already exists, and the competitive keyword/brand ecosystem that already exists,” he said.

It’s important to know what’s already working, so you don’t veer too far off from that.

Based on what you find, ask yourself, “How can I position my practice in this environment to win?”

You’ll want to avoid a name that’s too close to one of your competitors. For example, if your competitor is Houston Therapy, you won’t want to choose Houston Therapy Center.

Not Connecting with Local Values

A major aspect of branding is connecting with your community.

In the therapy space, that looks like using local values and elements of your community in the name you choose.

As Sauter put it, “What elements of your community, neighborhood, city, or county can you look to incorporate, directly or indirectly, into your organization's name and brand?”

One example is Red Rock Recovery Center in Colorado. They’ve taken the local appreciation for the great outdoors and their natural red rock naturescapes and used it in a name.

The impact of this is that you connect emotionally to your potential patient pool. They’ll feel much more connected to your practice off the bat.

However, you have to consider long-term appeal, too.

“You don’t want to over-associate with anything that may not have staying power, such as a specific provider, leader, or local trend,” Sauter said.

“The world changes fast and an advantage can quickly become a disadvantage. Changing an established brand is far more difficult than creating a resilient one the first time.”

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Name with Google My Business in mind

As I mentioned above, a little planning goes a long way. And that’s exactly what Omar Ruiz, LMFT business coach & co-founder of Private Practice Marketing, LLC, told me.

Since it can take months or years to show up in regular SEO, a faster route is often Local SEO. The best way to do this is to create a Google My Business profile, which will help you show up in local Google Maps results.

“Most prospective clients are searching for the service they need on Google. By incorporating the service name within your practice name, this will increase the chances that your business profile will show up within Google maps,” Ruiz said.

“This, in turn, will increase the amount of prospective clients that are checking out your profile, visiting your website, and possibly contacting you to book a session.”

It’s important to know this before choosing a name, because Google has guidelines around how you can use your GMB profile.

Your profile “should reflect your business’s real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Plus, including unnecessary information in your business name isn't permitted, and could result in the suspension of your Business Profile,” they state.

The takeaway is clear. Choose a practice name that can double as your GMB profile name.

How to brainstorm 25 great practice names

A common way that marketers come up with headlines is to brainstorm 25 or more. 

We’re gonna borrow that same idea and generate 25 practice headlines. Then, we’ll narrow it down until you have just a handful to choose from.

By the end of this exercise, you should have a practice name that’s business-sound, abides by the law, isn’t already taken, and passes a gut-check.

So, start brainstorming some practice names now. You can use a pen and paper or a Google Doc. The important part is not to judge anything that comes out of your brain.

Just get it all on paper.

Extra prompts to brainstorm therapy practice names

If you hit a creative dead end and can’t think of any more practice names, use the following set of questions to help you.

What values do you bring to the therapy room?
Think about how you use your free time to become a more skilled therapist for your clients. Think about what personal life experiences have informed your practice.

What are five things that your ideal clients have in common? What do you love about them?
What you subjectively love about your favorite clients can be a great clue into what makes you tick. Think about some of your favorite clients past and present, and look for commonalities.

What words or phrases do you love?
Jot down a few that come to mind. For me, I love the words “surrender,” “integrate,” and “transcend.” What words or phrases do you love?

Are there any symbols, images, or metaphors that you love?
If they connect with you, they may connect with potential clients. Write a few ideas down.

What do you hope to imbue in clients?
Do you want clients to gain hope, self-love, perspective, or peace? Write a few ideas down.

What’s your target outcome with each client broadly speaking?
Some therapists like “healing,” others like “recovery,” and others still like outcomes like “freedom.” What’s an outcome that you want every client to experience in their own way?

How do your clients experience the work you do together?
You can even ask clients this directly. Alternatively, you can look at reviews, or simply remember things your clients have said about your work together.

Now you should have at least 25 ideas for your practice name. What next?

Whittling Down Your List

It can be hard to remove names from a list you’ve just created. You might really like some of these names, but the enemy of a great practice name is a good practice name.

So, do what Stephen King calls “killing your little darlings.”

Start removing ideas that you may like or love, in service of choosing the best ones. Remember, there’s only one “best”.

To help you with this, I recommend taking a day or two between brainstorming and reducing your names.

This will allow you to see your names with a new set of eyes, and is a common technique among writers.

Additionally, you can reduce names that are already taken. Here’s how:

  1. Check each name on your list to see if a business has already taken that name. I recommend using LegalZoom’s free business search.
  2. Make sure the website domain name isn’t already taken. I recommend Name Cheap for this. However, if you really like a name and it’s taken, consider if changing the name slightly, but only if it makes sense for your business and future branding.
  3. Look at your state laws to ensure compliance. In states like California, your practice name must include certain words. As an MFT for example, your name will need to include “marriage”, “family”, or “child” together with “counseling”, “counselor”, “therapy”, or “therapist.” Research your state’s laws about naming a therapy practice and consult a lawyer if needed.

Using this simple process can help you cut your list of ideas significantly.

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Finalizing a practice name

By now, you should have a list that’s well under 25 potential practice names, perhaps 10 or so.

I have two more exercises you can do to choose a name that really resonates with you and your potential clients.

Ask for feedback
Ask your friends, family, colleagues, mentors, and even your therapy clients how they feel about your shortlist. What kind of feedback do they have? Do they have any suggestions for which name to choose or how to augment them?

Cross a few more off.

Do a gut check
What names might sound or look okay, but don’t feel quite “right?” How does your body react when you think about using each name? Does any tension creep in? Might you have some reservations about certain names?

Cross off more until you have just one left.

That’s it! You now have your practice name.

You can see why having a thorough process and sidestepping writer’s block is so beneficial.

Now that you have a practice name, the next step is to form your business entity. Check out our guide to LLCs and PLLCs for therapists.

Choosing a fulfilling practice name

How does it feel to have a practice name that reflects your practice, is available, adheres to the law, connects with clients, and lends itself to effective branding and marketing?

Hopefully it feels great, or at least like relief. However, if you’re still struggling, allow me to share a piece of advice.

Choose a “good enough” name. 

We can fall into the trap of thinking things have to be perfect, and this leaves us vulnerable to procrastination and perfectionism. 

But naming your practice isn’t all that serious from a 30,000-foot perspective. What’s more important is setting up your financial systems, marketing your business, and impacting your community.

So, choose a name that’s good enough. Even if it doesn’t give you butterflies in your stomach.

You can always set up a DBA (“doing business as”) later and change it. For example, you can start out as “Jane Smith LLC” and change it when inspiration strikes down the line.

Feel free to let the name grow on you, while you focus on building a successful therapy practice.

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This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult their own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post.

Brandon Grill is a mental health copywriter and marketer based in Las Vegas, NV. He loves helping therapy practices attract more perfect-fit clients through SEO. Outside of work, you can find Brandon spending time with his nephews, reading self-help, and meditating.

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