Therapists are held to a high ethical standard in their clinical work, and I want to hold myself to a high ethical standard in my marketing work. Therefore, I have written this code of ethics to be transparent about the rules that I have set for myself in my marketing practice.
1) I will only help clients market mental health services that they are properly trained and licensed to provide.
People who are searching for mental health services are vulnerable, and need to be connected with a professional who is qualified to help them. So I won’t help someone advertise to people searching for mental health services unless they are a qualified professional.
I define “qualified mental health professional” as someone who has completed an appropriate graduate degree and who is licensed to practice by the relevant state or provincial agency. If you are not yet licensed but you are working under supervision as part of a track towards your license, that’s fine too.
If you are not a mental health professional, I’m still happy to work with you. I just can’t help you advertise for mental health conditions. If you’re not sure if you would qualify, let me know and I will be happy to clarify.
2) I will only help clients market services for mental health conditions that are evidence-based
Some licensed mental health providers choose to also offer alternative services (which are not research-based) for non-mental health issues, in addition to offering evidence-based psychotherapy for mental health issues. That’s fine, as long as there’s a clear delineation (for instance, perhaps you offer spiritual coaching for clients who are looking for spiritual guidance, and you also offer therapy to clients who seek mental health relief.)
However, if the only services that you provide are alternative services, then I can only help you advertise to clients who are explicitly seeking those services, and not clients who are seeking mental health treatment in general.
I define “alternative services” as anything which has been significantly indicated by research to be ineffective for treating mental health issues beyond a placebo effect(such as “energy medicine“, or anything which relies on a specific metaphysical worldview (ie, religious counseling.)
3) I will not work with clients who offer harmful services.
There are some services (such as chelation therapy for autism or conversion therapy for sexual orientation) which have been soundly demonstrated to be harmful for clients. I will not work with any provider who offers these services under any circumstances.
4) I will be clear about the scope of my competence
Most therapists are more experienced in treating certain conditions than others. Similarly, I am more experienced in some areas of marketing than others. For instance, I have extensive experience with Google advertising, but if you want to place an ad in your local newspaper I’m probably not the right guy for you.
Therefore, if a client expresses interest in hiring me for someone that is outside of my scope of expertise, I’ll refer them to someone who is more qualified. If I have limited experience in a particular area but still think I can do a good job, I’ll let the client know and allow them to decide if they’d prefer to work with me or seek a referral.
5) I will never make a recommendation that I can’t stand behind.
I recommend several different services on this site — like Namecheap for domain hosting and the X theme for building your site. While I will sometimes receive an affiliate commission from those recommendations (as detailed here), I will never make a recommendation unless I think the service is worth recommending.
Before I make a recommendation, I’ll either use a service personally or do extensive research on it. If I think a service will be a great choice for many people, I recommend it. If I gain new information down the road that suggests a service has dropped in quality, I’ll remove the recommendation.
6) I will be transparent about the potential risks of online marketing
While most of my clients tell me that my services have been profitable for them, I can’t guarantee success. Factors outside of my control (such as competition or demographics in your local area) could result in your online marketing campaign losing money.
Therefore, I do my best to inform potential clients of the risks inherent in online marketing before they commit to hiring me. I never guarantee success, and I discourage clients from hiring me if the potential losses would be unaffordable for them. My hope is that all clients who sign up with me will be informed and able to make the right decision for their practice.