Why Therapist Directories Are A Waste Of Time

This post is for all of you who have been considering or actively using listings in therapist directories.  I frequently get asked from consultees which directories they should list in.  I also frequently see colleagues debating on bulletin boards and listservs the merits and demerits of individual directories.  So I figure it’s time to offer you my perspective.  Please bear in mind that I am sharing my experience and opinions here, and if you’ve had a different one, hopefully you’ll mention it on the comments.  If you own a directory service, I hope you’ll disclose that as well.

When I started building my practice, I had a lot of time to spend filling out various online directories.  I literally spent hours filling out profiles that promised to make me visible to potential patients.  To be fair it gave me the opportunity to hone my bio and elevator speech, but other than that I now think that I was wasting my time.  But let’s talk a little about why directories may be a waste of your time, because I think it points to a larger misconception about marketing your practice online.

Billboard in a bottle.

Many therapists still approach the internet as if it was a giant Yellow Pages.  We often create static content, the equivalent of a business card, cover letter and resume, and then slap it up on a website, or a directory.  Then we sit back and wait for the phone to ring.  It’s like we imagine that we created a giant billboard and threw it into the world wide web.  But in reality, it’s more like a message in a bottle, thrown in a vast ocean.  We imagine that that will get us recognized.  It usually doesn’t, and here’s why.

If you google “find a therapist” you will literally find dozens of website directories guaranteed to help patients find the right provider.  If you’re ambitious you could spend hours and days finding all of them and entering your information.  Many of them are free, some charge money, and a few don’t let you know whether they will charge or not until you’ve entered all of your information.  One of the main problems with directories is exactly that there are so many of them.

One thing I’ve learned from starting up social networks for other companies is that you always need a critical mass of members as quickly as possible.  If you launch a site you have a few days to a week to achieve this in most cases.  Otherwise potential members will log in to your site, look around and see little activity, and leave.  So low enrollment of providers in a directory will drive little traffic to it.

On the other hand, if you take a directory like Psychology Today’s you will see that they did achieve a critical mass, and have more traffic.  But the problem here is that this is because every therapist and her maiden aunt is now listed there.  So the problem becomes how to set yourself apart from the rest.  If you are determined to spend time on listing yourself in a directory, I’d suggest that you pay for the PT one and try to distinguish yourself as best you can.  In fact, the Psychology Today site is the only directory I even try to keep current and pay for anymore.

Speaking of keeping current, here’s the other potential pitfall of directories:  The more you participate in, the more you’ll need to update your content, remember more passwords, and check back in.  Some directories require you to log in any time you get a message from a potential client (or spam) in an effort to drive up their traffic.  It’s a lot of hassle for little ROI.

If you are determined to list yourself in directories, please consider the following:

  • If you are planning on practicing online, does the directory have global traffic?
  • If you are planning on practicing in a certain geographic location, does the directory get traffic from your part of the world?
One way to research this a little is to run the site’s address on Alexa, which will often tell you some information about traffic or rankings by country.
But while we’re talking about Alexa, let’s talk about how those numbers can be misleading.  Alexa allows you to download the Alexa toolbar, which allows you to check a site’s alexa traffic rank, but it also allows Alexa to tabulate traffic to any site your browser visits, which is part of how they get those numbers.  So it is very easy to drive traffic numbers up artificially.  How?  Easy, set your homepage to your website, and every time you open up your browser, it opens to your site, and adds to your number of visits.  Not enough?  No problem, have all of your family members do the same on their computers.  Within days, your ranking will rise dramatically, without any real rise in potential referral visits. So keep that slight-of-hand in mind when you look at a therapist directory’s traffic. Maybe they do have 100s of visits a day, or maybe they have 10 people who have that site as their home page to drive up traffic.
So Now You Know.

When I review my practice referrals, I received probably %10 of them from a directory, usually Psychology Today.  The majority of my referrals came from word of mouth, insurance company lists, and increasingly my blog and articles.  By now, many of you will know where I am going with this:  It is content and interaction that convert visits to your website into referrals.  There is not a similar conversion rate from visits to your directory profile and calls to you, or even visits to your website.

Some may disagree with me, but my take on directories is that they are a waste of time, and that they capitalize on therapists’ reluctance to generate interactive and dynamic content.  Put simply, people want to hang up their cybershingle and then go back to passively waiting for the phone to ring.

To spend a lot of time finding and listing yourself in a therapist directory is to confuse worry with effort.  What you should be doing (Oh Nos! A therapist used the word “should” 😉 ) is generating content and creating opportunities for interaction with colleagues and potential patients.  Examples of generating content include:

  • writing brief informative blog posts
  • tweeting links to articles that you find interesting to establish your “brand”
  • offering a free hangout on Google+ on your niche topic
  • creating a meditation podcast that people can download from your site
  • networking in Second Life or attending the Online Therapy Institute’s open office hours
  • doing a five-minute vblog on a CBT technique

I’ve done many of the above, and this blog post is another example.  I guarantee you that this post will generate a new referral for me at some point soon, much sooner than my Psychology Today profile will.

So please take the time you could be playing it safe cutting and pasting your info into yet another directory, and instead take some risks, create some new content, or join in a conversation online.  Web 2.0 is not about being a digital classified ad. Use your time marketing to do what therapists do best: Relate.


  1. What works for me is having my own good website and a blog for other professionals, that clients also read. Having 3 books about therapy doesn’t hurt, but the site and the blog are the referral drivers.

  2. I totally agree with you; and I will say that it is difficult to learn and do these things.

    I realize that marketing is a part of private practice but the whole digital component is somewhat overwhelming. It really does require the individual learning a new domain or paying someone else to do it.

    I suppose this ‘comes with the territory’ of being a small business owner in that you better be flexible and ready to adjust to anything.


    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Amber, thanks for your comment. There is the third option: Paying someone to learn the new domain. This is where consultation and coaching comes in, and is a longterm investment that pays off!

  3. I have two websites and blogs also and people do self-refer from those. My thinking about directories is to be on them if they have a high ranking themselves, hoping a link from them will count with Google for the ranking of my own sites – but I don’t expect much in the way of referrals. I’m interested in what you think about the SEO aspect, Mike.

    The only directories that I see generating referrals well are those that are for a niche. I get a lot of EMDR referrals, for example; and I have a colleague with a sex addiction specialty and she gets directory referrals from directories geared to that.

  4. Mike, this has been by far the most helpful blog I’ve read in a while. I have been thinking about this for a couple of weeks, it’s like you read my mind. I have to say though most of my referrals come from PT but I think it’s only because I have a specialty. The other two I’m on have yet to produce a referral. One of them made me pay for the whole year so I can’t cancel (good for them, I guess I failed to do the research). And the other one is just bad, sometimes I wonder if the only 2 referral emails they have sent me in 6 months (which never paned out) were really fake, sent by their staff 🙂 All jokes aside, I’m putting more effort into my website.
    Great post!!

  5. Great post, Mike! And, of course, I agree. : ). Now that most everyone is on the internet, we all need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Creating unique content is the easiest, least expensive (see “free”) way to show potential clients your unique skills and value.

  6. For me, the question is this: does the directory drive enough traffic to my site to be worth the cost? In my market, this is only true for one directory, which has high search rankings but not a huge group of therapists listed.

  7. I totally agree, Mike! My influx of new clients increased when I discontinued the directory listing and added a blog. Thanks for the validation!

  8. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for a great post on an important topic.

    I agree with much of what you say –especially how therapists treat directories as a passive way to attempt to get clients. A lot of therapists think that marketing online consists only of directories and search engine optimization. While there was a time when therapists could easily fill a practice using these two things alone, things are very different now.The competition is much greater.

    However, I still think that directories can be useful for *some people* as part of an overall marketing strategy. Writing a good listing that stands out is important and having a niche focus always helps. And, while it’s hard to say exactly how much influence the back links from these sites effect search engine rankings, they can’t hurt.

    Before listing in a directory, I always suggest you use Google to determine which directory sites are coming up for your niche in your local area and where they rank. That way you can get an idea of which directories you might try listing in.

    It’s also important to track as best you can where your clients are coming from so you know which directories are working.

    In the long run though, content creation is where therapists should be focusing a lot more of their energies. Fortunately there are an increasing number who are now doing this and are succeeding because of it. Yay!

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Welcome back Juliet!

      I think you raise a good point on how to do your homework when deciding which directories to list in. And in terms of developing a concise way to represent yourself and your niche, and that backlinks don’t hurt I pretty much agree with you.

      What I think CAN hurt, and the general point I was conveying was that people sometimes put their info up on directories and don’t do anything else. Like you, I think that content creation is where its at, and in the short run people may get discouraged if they rely primarily on listing themselves and nothing else.

  9. Thanks for this informative post. I am skeptical about some of these directories because I have received 2 invitations to have my name added to one by people that I do not know. I am not a private practitioner. So, it makes me wonder why I would get an invitation by people who obviously do not know me?

  10. Elaine Burke says

    Very interesting Mike, thanks

  11. Debra Brittain says

    I’m very appreciative that you have shared this valuable information, and your expertise. It’s nice to know that there are other professionals out there who are not only willing to provide advice, but that are also generous with their time to help other professionals to help them be successful.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      You’re welcome Debra, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I write these pieces of content to help people decide to make the plunge to work with me as a consultant or therapist. I am very glad that people enjoy the free content I provide, but I maintain it is no substitute for hiring me or another consultant to help grow your practice. We therapists are notoriously reluctant to spend money on learning business techniques. This blog helps me avoid the free brainpicking people used to do a lot of. Now what they read is free, and “quick questions,” which are almost never quick, require buying time with me. 🙂

  12. Hi Mike.. thanks for your excellent info. I’m very unclear on how to develop blog content or even how blogs work, though WordPress is parked on on my site. My passion is making people aware of the perils of benzodiazepines, and other psychotropics. Is there a way to know what type of content appeals, etc. I volunteer a lot of time in this area and am developing a Facebook page to make information readily available, but my blog languishes. Is there a sort of, ‘Blog 101 for Therapists’ that you could refer me to?

  13. Tana Adams says

    I have had some luck with a local directory-Counseling Seattle and the Where-to-Turn used by many local professionals. It doesn’t hurt that my name puts me at the top of any directory list! I do, however, completely agree that relating is the driving force behind a thriving practice. I like to set coffee dates with potential referral sources so we can develop a mutually beneficial relationship. This has been hugely successful for me in the past.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Tana, always good to hear the specific directories that work for people. I’m glad you gave the example of the relating you do to grow your business too!

  14. Excellent post. Thank you for clarifying what I am finding myself but not yet put into words. I advertise on two referral lists; PT and HelpPro. I get a lot of hits from HelpPro but more conversions from PT. It’s true that writing copy to target your niche, if you have one, makes you stand out. Sounding like every other therapist who provides a “supportive environment” makes it difficult for a potential client to decide if they want to contact you or the next supportive therapist they read about.

    Develping relationship via the internet is what is necessary. I find that generating good blog content is time consuming though and am hoping that my learning curve reduces sooner than later.

  15. Mike: thanks for a great post. Hearing about your roi on the blogging is encouraging.

  16. I love articles like this because they point out that limiting ones marketing to a directory or a blog or Facebook or anything else really limits ones exposure. We all need to recognize that a directory listing or a website or a Facebook page in and of themselves does not represent a comprehensive marketing strategy.

    Now the shocker though! Therapy directories are not necessarily a wast of time. Yes it’s true I’m highly biased since I run British Columbia’s largest and most successful directories which has been around for over 10 years. While the number of professionals on CounsellingBC.com is startling – over 450 – I continually receive feedback that some therapists receive numerous clients from the site.

    A recent quote follows: (permission to use for marketing has been granted)

    We wanted to let you know how happy we’ve been with counsellingbc. We opened up our practice in November, 2010 and since then have had on average 40 visits to our website a month, with new clients calling on a weekly basis, all from your site.(Lindsey Macinness, M.A., RCC June, 2011)

    OK, so the truth is that not all people on the site report such stellar results. One cancelled a month ago because she received no client during the entire year. When I looked at her listing – to be honest – it was dull and uninspiring. Could it have something to do with the fact that her text was uninviting? Perhaps. Could it have something to do with fewer visits to her listing? Not likely, since listing order is randomized daily.

    One of the great things I have had since the beginning is access to the marketing expertise of Juliet Austin. She has taught most of the people on the site that if they take the time and make the effort to write client attracting copy then the chances that their directory listing will pay off is much greater.

    Should any professional rely on one approach. Definitely not. Are Therapist directories a waste of time? Ask Linsey Maciness (quoted above) and she will say “Are you out of your mind?”

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Jeffrey, thanks for the comment. And thanks for acknowledging your “skin in the game” as a directory provider. I think that having access to Juliet may in fact be part of what’s making your directory successful, as you are basically offering a consultancy component to the directory if I understand you right. This raises the point that not all directories are just “directories,” and that people should look to see what other services are provided. I hope you are advertising any of those “extras” you are providing that make your directory more than a directory. And if your customers are satisfied, something clearly is working!

      • Hi Mike,

        Great article. Thanks. I do get some referrals from Directories — at least enough to pay for an costs, so it seems worth it so far.

        As you are helping therapists market, please consider my Couple’s Workstation, which is an interactive membership area that can be placed seamlessly on any website. Contact me of you would like more info.

        Also tell me a little more about your services.

  17. Hi, Mike:

    I’ve followed your work from a distance and think you are spot on. This is one of those, “It’s the Best of Times, It’s the Worst of Times” kind of scenarios for most clinicians.

    Why the best: Because you have a power at your finger tips right now that is unsurpassed in history. Gutenberg may have started it, but you can essentially have your own TV station, Radio station, and Magazine – for Free! (That would be, YouTube, iTunes (podcasts) and your Blog for those keeping score).

    Why the worst: Because it is a TON of work to keep all these media channels active and current. Everything on the web is like groceries on the shelf in the store – it has an expiration date. Oh, and that date is TODAY.

    Today, the key is 1) Get found, 2) Engage, 3) Follow up, 4) Follow up, 5) Follow up… you get the picture.

    While this all may seem overwhelming since none of us really learned anything about marketing in grad school, it is a set of skills that people can learn.

    So here is my one take away point for those who are still reading comments here: Content is King and there are systematic ways for you to create and distribute your content on the web. You can do it yourself or you can have it done for you. As always, you have to decide whether to spend the time or whether to spend the money.

    I have essentially changed careers after spending years learning how to market online. I still see a few patients, but I am spending the lion’s share for my time creating comprehensive marketing programs for professionals – primarily dentists and physicians. Sorry to say that most psychologists don’t have price points or budgets that would permit them to hire us.

    However, we have created free and affordable resources for therapist sized marketing budgets if anyone would care to check them out.

    Our primary blog site is http://CreateYourOwnLegendNow.com

    We have do it yourself training materials at http://ExpertMarketingAcademy.com

    And we have some resources for psychotherapists at http://PsychotherapyLegends.com

    It may be a lot of work, but honestly there is no such thing as effective passive marketing. You MUST engage and interact aggressively online.

    All the best,
    Dr. Marc Kossmann

  18. I’ve done a little inventory and counted no fewer than 39 seperate therapist directory sites, including five that are local to my area (Seattle, WA). Finding “Helppro” mentioned above got me to 40.

  19. Thanks for this! It is sometimes VERY hard to determine if therapist directories are worth it. If you run your practice as a business, you’re always looking for ways to cut costs and increase profits. I think the ROI on therapist directories is “iffy” at best. Despite the high profile of Psychology Today, and their generally high Google rankings for keywords for my niche, I still get relatively few referrals from them, and fewer from GreatTherapy, NetworkTherapy, TherapyList, etc. Mike: Is there a “minimum standard” of monthly or annual referrals to get before one pulls the plug on a monthly-fee membership? How valuable is it to pay those monthly fees, just to get linkback to one’s website? I’m trying to evalute my ROI and cut the dead wood from my overhead budget.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Ken, hard to answer this question without knowing what your personal limits/budget are. If you are paying around $15 a month for PT (I think that’s what it still is) then anything over your fee is profit. For example, my full fee is $150, so if I only get one referral from PT its paid for itself. I’d focus though on tracking the quality of referrals from each site and drop the ones that refer your less-than-ideal patient. Off the top of my head I’d say, revise your profile on PT so you feel that it is your best shot, and then see if it changes over a couple of months.

  20. I love a controversial post!

    Clinton Power here, and as you can see from my title, I’m being upfront about my bias that I own a online counselling directory in Australia.

    I agree with quite a few thing you raise here, Mike. I particularly like your summary of how many therapists create a few profiles on directories and pop up a website, and then expect to get clients from being passive. I often encounter therapists that think marketing a private practice is a ‘one time event’.

    Well we all know this no longer works- perhaps it did once, but not anymore. If you want to build a successful and thriving practice today, you need to be VERY engaged online. This means being active on social media, commenting on blogs, writing informative, interesting and sometimes controversial posts (like this one) and sharing your knowledge through article writing. All this is essential to build your online presence. It takes work, it takes time and, yes, sometimes it takes some real sweat.

    In my work with therapists and counsellors in Australia, I often despair at their reluctance to ‘put their voice out there’. I acknowledge there is often genuine anxiety and fear about what colleagues and clients will think, but I think it’s time we got over that as a profession. We can only all benefit as a profession by having more therapists get their message out into the community, whether it’s via a blog, article, website, social media or online video or audio.

    One thing you didn’t discuss in-depth in your post was the value of back-links from directories. If a counselling directory is large and has many members, this is considered an ‘authority site’ by Google, and the back-link to your website is much more valuable than any links gained from employing an SEO team in India to create them.

    While SEO has many areas of mystery about it, we do know that Google does give more weight or ‘Google juice’ to those links that come from authority sites in your particular niche.

    I encourage people to do some research on Google and see how often the directory you are considering is coming up for the keywords in your niche area. This will at least give you some indication as to how good the SEO is on the directory.

    In Australia, there have been some flashy directories appear on the scene in recent times that offer little value to the members. Therapists are duped by the slick design and videos, but when you do some research, they are not even showing within the first 10 pages of Google for the Australian locations.

    My philosophy with Australia Counselling has been to constantly improve the overall SEO of the site. We are now consistently ranking on the first page of Google for numerous areas of practice and locations. We also add value to the members by providing marketing training and drive traffic to the members profiles and websites through extensive article and blog writing on areas of interest to the public looking for mental health support. I think to just provide a ‘cyber shingle’ for counsellors, as you say, is not enough today and therapists expect more from a directory.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Clinton, nice to see you on my blog after following your adventures via Twitter.

      I am glad you weighed in on Directories and SEO. I am perhaps being obstinate, but I don’t spend too much time focusing on SEO per se. My opinion is that content is ultimately more important, and will continue to be so as Google et al make more and more sophisticated algorithms. I think this year will be the “Year of the Filter,” as we achieve saturation in social media and driving traffic will become more and more offset by those who “get through” to the audience. I think content will be what gets you through their filters, not keywords. Let’s see if 2012 proves me wrong..

      Thanks for sharing your experiences here, I hope people surf over to your site, not just for SEO, but as a great example of a therapist website, and more really!

  21. Thank you for the topic overview. While looking on the best online way to promote my practice, I generally came to the similar conclusion.

  22. case manager girl in nashville says

    Hi. I work as a case manager at an addiction treatment center and have a love/hate relationship with these directory sites. Sometimes I find the PT one to be helpful but sometimes it is so frustrating to try to google around to see if I can find a therapist in a small town and all I get is endless pages of therapy directories that do not list a therapist even in the same county. That is how I stumbled on your blog post, by the way. Now that I realize most of these sites require therapists to pay fees to be listed, it’s even more frustrating that they are essentially standing between me and the info I need. Ugh.

  23. Overall listing your therapy site in a dedicated directory does makes sense and it creates a relevant and logical linking opportunity for your website (from the search engine perspective). However before opting for a paid listing I would strongly suggest the the follwing factors:

    1 – Consider it’s prominence in the search engines – not just in the paid/sponsored listings
    2 – Consider whether this is a directory you will likely visit between annual subscription payments – and why (Is this the same reason potential clients might visit it?
    3 – Research the directory’s content and does it offer any additional functionality that will really be of benefit – or do you need to become part of its community/brand to benefit

  24. Hey Mike.

    Thanks for the informative post. While I agree that listing your practice with the online local listings alone is a terrible strategy, I disagree that you shouldn’t do it. I am aware that in internet years, a lot of time has passed since you wrote this post, and that things change constantly online. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that google places/local listings will give you more love if your practice is listed in all of the key directories, and listed consistently.

    Hope this comment finds you well and thriving. Thanks for the generous information.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi David,

      I agree that things change a lot in short times in internet-land. I also think that doing as much as you can to get your name out there is a good thing. That said, I still think that spending time listing yourself on therapy directories is not time spent the BEST way, and absolutely think money spent on them other than Psychology Today or Google is still money wasted.

      Directories really rely on us to get them noticed, meaning, they need a critical mass of people listing and people visiting before they are really useful. Also, it can be time-consuming for therapists to make sure that all of these directories are updated with your current information. Office locations, hours, fees and insurances change, and listing them may carry with it some ethical responsibilities. The time spent finding these directories, remembering what password you used for which one to log in and maintaining your info could be put to better use in blogging, planning a presentation or networking with a colleague at lunch.

      Last, but not least, I think therapy directories encourage a bad habit many of us therapists are guilty of: We’re too passive! We want to hang out a shingle so people can find us, and then wait for the phone to ring. I’ve seen people who spend hours searching for directories and making elaborate entries on them in the hope that they can then “park it” and let the calls come rolling in. Therapy directories give us the illusion of doing something to build our business when they may be more introverted busy work than anything else.

      Isn’t it nice to know we can still still have these friendly arguments after 20 years! 😉

      • Well, as hard is this is for me to say, Mike, you are right….there you go, I said it. Anyone thinking they can list and wait for the masses will be doing just that…wait. I’m curious how you feel about services like Yext, whom for a hefty fee will give you “power listings” in something like 50 local listings, and the ability to control all of your listings in one central location. I haven’t spent the money, but I see competitors using them with success in better google local places placement.

        Being in private practice means wearing multiple hats constantly. I know for myself, I need to get over being annoyed by this fact and be more disciplined in just doing it, because when I don’t, I find my organic placement to slide, because someone else wanting to be seen is doing the work.

  25. Another Counselor! says

    Thanks Mike for being so candid.. I was looking for someone to tell me about their experiences with advertizing… and I am with you on this.. but word of mouth is tough to gage.

    I was typing my question earlier and was wondering (on point) exactly how much business Psychology Today could generate for anyone.. 10% is 10%, and then there is word of mouth.. I have spent a lot of money on all kinds of marketing efforts because I am not the usual run of the mill, I do college counseling exclusively. I thought originally I would use the directory to find out who does adolescents, but as I went through it and saw the word ” counselor” I knew that maybe I should consider signing up.

    Then a therapist told me to consider a different publication… well.. they are Good, and I think you just answered my question. If the magazine offers 10% of business, I will take it! I would be happy to get 10%… and then get word of mouth.,,,, it gets you going.

    So Thank you for your insight! and if you need a college counselor for your clients… I am here! http://www.thecollegeadmissionsconsultant.com

  26. I do agree with many of the points covered here. Regular posts to my blog maintains regular and repeat visits to my homepage.

  27. Thx a million – just saved me a lot of trouble reading this..

  28. Timely content, Mike. Today there is a group of us talking about this very topic from two different practices. The directory and other search engine platforms (Blue Calypso) have been the topic of our discussion. Your opinion was very helpful. Keep up the good work!
    Nate Ford

  29. Great article! After reading through it and all the comments I still believe I can bring a lot of value to therapists by building a directory in the eating disorder niche. I’m the founder of Recovery Warriors and have created the popular app Rise Up + Recover and I believe a “Get Help” section in the app and on the Recovery Warrior website would be a perfect spot to place the directory and give therapists the targeted leads they are looking for when enrolling in a directory.

    I do think that a lot can be done by the directory to drive more referrals. I have done a lot of research and looked at many directories and the vast majority of them are operating on old outdated websites. I look forward to bring a fresh new look that is most importantly user friendly to my niche!

  30. Jordan Kirschner says

    I agree with many of your points, and that marketing should not be limited to advertising on therapy directories, however, I have gotten over 50 clients from therapy directories in the past year, so I would not rule them out…

    ~ Jordan K.

  31. Although all good points, you failed to mention the Search Engine Optimization benefits of using directories. The inbound links from the directory to your website helps you to rank better on search engines i.e. Google etc.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Hi Adrian, Google is always finding new ways to limit SEO as an effective tool for our particular form of services. My site is optimized and what gets me hits is how much I’ll spend on Google adwords. If you do a search of my name I doubt you’ll find anything like a directory show up on the first two pages, and we know most folks don’t search beyond that before clicking away. I’ve had listings on directories for years, and they get me little traffic (other than maybe PT) when compared with my blog and other ways I engage online.

  32. I signed up with Psychology Today years ago, thinking, “Here goes another wasted $30.” The very next day, I had a cash client call and, in essence, he paid for the next 16 months of the Directory cost. I have a small part time practice. Some of my referrals come from insurance company lists, a few come from physicians. The rest come from PT. I get the impression that people get a list from their insurance company and then find my page on PT to find out a little about me, or vice versa. One key to making the Directory work is putting the right words in the first sentence, i.e., what diagnostic categories you work with or special approaches you use. When my practice slowed down a few months ago, and I googled myself, I could see that my first sentence was not showing my areas of specialization right there on the google search page. I changed it so that people could immediately see what they were interested in, and I had five calls the next day. I’ve been busy as can be ever since.

    I have not tried using other Directories. That one does it for me.

    • Mike Langlois, LICSW says

      Thanks Pam, glad to hear that PT is working for you. I think my post was written at a time when there was a growing proliferation of therapist directories promising to help therapists grow their practice. From my experience as a therapist and co-founder of a social media platform company I can tell you that having a platform is pretty useless unless and until you have a critical mass of people engaging with it. That is why PT works and so many others don’t: It was out of the gate early and ahead so it received a lion’s share of attention from therapists and got enough people visiting it to work. Another reason PT has succeeded is that it “bundles” media that therapists are familiar with such as print magazines with newer tech they aren’t as eager to use such as blogs, bulletin boards and the directory. By doing that it used it’s brand to help many therapists, maybe even you, bridge the gap between marketing in the 20th and 21st centuries. Thanks for reminding me of this blog, I may need to write a new one amending my thoughts, another example of what makes social media so engaging for me! Take Care, ML

  33. Hi there,

    I just ran across your blog and found it very helpful. Thank you for sharing this information. I am an MFT Intern in private practice and am not on insurance panels, so I have to find ways to do my own marketing. I have subscriptions to two major listing services, but am not getting many calls. I have been wondering what to do and whether to join another listing service. After reading your article, I think I will spend more time trying to write blogs and maybe try my hand at some of your other suggestions. I always get tripped up on writing blogs though, because I feel like everything has already been talked about. Do you have any suggestions for this? Thanks so much for your help! I’m glad I stumbled across your page, I’m looking forward to staying connected!

  34. Ema Nardella RP

    Dec. 29,2015

    Thanks Mike for your blog!

    I’ve had the worst experience with “theravive’. They were rude and dismissive. My list of complaints with them is too long to list here. My guess is that if therapists are not into the complex web of online advertising then best stay away from such directories. I am best at ‘relating’ that’s why I do this work. It makes sense that marketing would work along the same line. I bet that I am not alone on this.

    My referrals come from word of mouth and I’m sticking with it.

  35. Private Practice in Buffalo says

    I don’t think you quite understand how SEO works, mate. People are listing their practices in directories for link juice, as part of a strategy to get higher rankings for their practice. Adwords is a good source of traffic put contributes absolutely nothing to SEO and search rankings. If you are an SEO doing optimization for a client that is a therapist, not listing them in therapist directories with a high domain authority is leaving money and SEO on the table. It isn’t an SEO strategy, it’s PART OF an SEO strategy.


  1. […] on Google+ recently mentioned an article in which Mike Langlois so hit the nail on the head: Why Therapist Directories Are a Waste of Time. I found myself in complete agreement with the article. In fact, I made some similar points in my […]

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