As you consider starting up your own private practice, or as an established practitioner who is either shifting gears in your practice or considering a re-brand, naming your private practice is an important part of the process.
So how exactly do you name your practice? What should you call it? And what factors should you consider?
Firstly, be sure you have read up on the guidelines of the governing body you are registered with, or the guidelines of any governing body you plan to register with in the future. Often, there are guidelines around naming your practice, associated with ensuring that you are representing yourself professionally and accurately.
For example, it isn’t generally considered ethical to name your practice something misleading like, “Best Counselling Services”.
Once you do settle on a name, you want to make sure that your name hasn’t already been scooped up by somebody else. Check with your local and national business registry to ensure the name is available, and also double check that the URL you want it is available.
Something I encourage all of the counsellors I coach to consider when naming their practice is how they think the name will fit down the road as their practice grows and evolves. Of course, we can never really know what the future holds, but it’s best to name your practice something that can evolve with you, and doesn’t necessarily pigeon-hole you into one way of doing things.
It’s not the end of the world if you have to change your practice name down the road, but it is a hassle to re-brand and re-market, especially when you’ve already spent a long time getting your practice name out there and making a name for yourself. If you have to change your URL, it takes quite a while to re-build traffic to your website.
After you’ve considered everything above, ultimately, your practice name has to feel right to you and your clients. If you are a solopreneur (meaning, an individual in private practice), it might make the most sense to simply call your practice your name. If your name is Erica Jones, then “Erica Jones Counselling” and the URL www.ericajones.com or www.ericajonescounselling.com is a simple, effective and easy way to name your practice.
As a solopreneur, it can actually make things more confusing (and make it harder for your clients to find you) if your practice is named something other than your actual name.
That said, there are any number of reasons why you might not want your name for your practice name, in which case, here are a few more ideas of ways to name your practice!
Types of Practice Names
Location-based Practice Names
If you have a physical location for your practice and you plan on staying there long-term, you might consider naming your practice based around that so people can find you easily and have a sense of where you are.
For example, if your practice is on Cedar St., maybe you become “Cedar Street Counselling”. Or if the area you are located in is well-known for something like a specific type of flower or tree, or body of water, you name it after that.
Client-Based or Approach-Based Practice Names
Many of us serve a diverse range of clientele, so naming our practice after the types of clients we serve isn’t feasible. However, if you do have a very specific niche, either a specific demographic or a specific approach that you use (and you don’t intend to stray from that in the future) you might name your practice after that.
For example, if your last name is Thomson, and you exclusively work with children, perhaps you name your practice “Thomson Children’s Counselling Services”. Or if you are located in an area with a lot of Evergreen trees and you use exclusively Cognitive Therapy, you might name your practice “Evergreen Cognitive Therapy”.
Issue-Based Practice Names
Like client-based or approach-based practice names, issue-based practice names can work if you only focus on a specific issue. If you specialize in treating anxiety, you might call your practice Cedar Street Anxiety Counselling. Again, be cautious about using issue-based practice names if you think you might expand in the future.
Meaning-based Practice Names
A meaning-based practice name is when you choose a word or a metaphor that holds meaning to you. I generally caution people around this because something that holds meaning for you may mean nothing to (or worst-case scenario, be confusing for) your clients.
As an example of a meaning-based practice name, let’s say you focus on helping to empower people through life changes, and you know of a metaphor or poem that talks about transition and empowerment and uses ocean waves as the metaphor. You might call your practice “Ocean Waves Therapy”, or if the metaphor includes a boat, lighthouse or anchor, you could use any of those things. For example, “Anchor Counselling Services”, or “Lighthouse Therapy”.
Mix and Match Practice Names
As in some of the examples above, you can also mix and match the types of names, including your location + your client type, your location + the approach you use, the client type you serve + a meaning-based name.
Pitfalls in Naming Your Practice
The name is too narrow
Like we’ve already mentioned, one of the biggest considerations is thinking about whether the name is going to serve you over the long-haul. You can’t always know this in advance, but if you’re not sure, avoid naming your practice something that could leave feeling like you can’t expand in certain ways down the road.
The name is offensive or confusing
Of course, in naming our practice, our intentions are always good …. But I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a practitioner get really excited about a name that really resonates with them, but leaves their clientele confused … or worse yet, offended.
Perhaps you’ve travelled a lot, or have had experiences with other cultures, religions or traditions that really resonate with you. I’ve met some white practitioners who are really drawn to yoga or buddhist practices. Naming your practice after another culture or religion that you are not from may be considered a form of cultural appropriation.
If you’re an English speaker, and your clients are native English speakers, it might be confusing to name your practice a word from another language, even if it holds a lot of meaning for you.
Commonly misspelled words, or words used in a different context
Once you’ve gotten close to settling on a name, try to think of any way that the name could go wrong.
Are there multiple spellings for any of the words in your practice name that could make it confusing? Are any of the names really complicated and hard to pronounce or spell correctly?
This could be problematic for people trying to look your business up online. Are there any different meanings that clients could derive from the name that would be misleading? For example, you might use a body-centred approach in therapy. If you called your practice “Body-Centred Therapy”, people would likely think your business offered physical therapy services instead of mental health services.
Ultimately, naming your practice is a big decision. Take your time with it and run the name by lots of different people before you solidify it, to make sure it’s right for you and that you haven’t fallen into any of the pitfalls!
If you haven’t already, check out our Facebook Group! You’ll be sure to get excellent feedback from our members on everything from naming your private practice to handling cancellations!