How Do You Choose a Psychologist? A Lawyer?
‘Real’ Person in an Envy-driven Consumer Culture– Series
Do You Know Why . . . Doctors and Lawyers were not allowed to advertise back in the days before marketers ran the world? There was a very good reason. It was thought that the choice of a lawyer or a doctor or a psychologist was too personal, too expensive, and too important to leave the choice to promoters. The thinking was that individual practices would grow or not grow depending on clients’ actual experience with their services. ‘Word of mouth’ and professional referrals were seen as the most honest-to-the-public ways of building a practice.
If you were good at what you did, you’d do fine. If you were not good at your chosen field, you would rightly end up with few clients and then quietly pick another profession rather than continuing to provide services that others did not find helpful.
Choosing professional help had nothing to do with the attractiveness of your website, fake referral services (those that make referrals based on which professionals pay their fee), or of a ‘personal-phony’ relationship with the professional. Phony relationships are very popular now. I am often asked if I want to ‘buy content’ to send to my clients to remind them of our ‘relationship.’ Content is usually trivial ideas with titles you can’t resist even though you know when you click that you just felt for the sell one more time.
When I say “no” to buying content, I’m asked if I would like to sell some of my MysteryShrink content which would then be packaged for other psychologists who will buy it from the marketer and use it to keep the illusion of a relationship going with their clients. I am also offered to ‘buy’ a Google listing so that when a person tries to find another particular psychologist—not me—my name will come up instead of the one they typed in.
What? You’re Kidding, right?
The part that really scares me is that no one is having ethical problems with these methods. Maybe I would think differently if I was just now starting a practice. Maybe I’d tether a giant blow-up pink gorilla to my mailbox, start paying kickbacks to a referral ‘service,’ and supplement my income by wearing clothes peppered with logo patches like a Nascar driver.
How do you find an effective professional? Ask for recommendations from former clients (real humans, the walking-talking kind, not ‘stars’ or ‘testimonials’) or professionals such as your general practitioner. If your insurance company restricts your choice and you cannot afford the fees of someone who has chosen to not to take the insurance company’s ‘deal,’ ask if the recommended therapist if he or she would be willing to see you for a reduced fee as a private pay client.