Your therapy business name is an important aspect of your private practice. Although many therapists simply use their first and last name as the name of their practice (e.g., “Dr. Marie Fang”), there are many good reasons to consider using a fictitious business name or dba (doing business as). In this article, I break down some reasons why you might like to consider using a fictitious business name for your practice and also help you generate therapy business name ideas that are a great fit for your practice.
Advantages of a Unique Therapy Business Name
Why would someone choose a name other than their first and last name for their therapy practice? After all, isn’t your name your brand?
Though we do want to build a sense of trust in our own name, there are certain advantages of a fictitious business name that are worth considering when setting up your practice. Understanding the nuances of these advantages will really help when it’s time to come up with therapy business name ideas.
In my opinion, SEO is by far the biggest advantage of having a dba in private practice. If you’re feeling totally confused when I refer to SEO, I cover all the basics of SEO in my article: SEO for Therapists: Keyword Planning
As a quick recap, SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website so that search engines like Google know exactly what you’re about and who to show your website to based on certain search terms. When it comes to building your practice through online marketing, SEO is the most powerful tool for ensuring your ideal clients can find you.
A strategic therapy business name can really boost your website’s SEO if you include keywords in your name that potential clients will likely be searching for when looking for a therapist.
Because let’s face it, unless I become uber-famous someday, nobody is going to be typing “Marie Fang” into Google search looking for a therapist. But they might type something like “Christian Counselor” if that’s something they’re looking for. So my dba name “Life Christian Counseling” nails my biggest target keyword while also making a clear statement about what to expect from me before ever clicking onto my website.
I break down all you need to know about choosing the right keywords in the same article: SEO for Therapists: Keyword Planning
Build a Brand
For whatever reason, having a practice name other than your personal name comes across as more official. Right now my practice is a solo practice, but potential clients see my name and assume I’m part of a larger professional group. This helps build trust in the practice as a whole before a client ever meets me.
Easier to start a Group Practice
Building on the previous point, if you think you might ever expand your practice by adding more practitioners to it in the future, a dba makes the transition from solo to group much easier. If my solo practice was called “Dr. Marie Fang” and I suddenly switched to “Life Christian Counseling,” that name would be totally new to my community. It would take some time to build trust in that new brand name. Since I already have the dba “Life Christian Counseling,” if I ever add therapists to my practice in the future I can do so without having to rebrand using a new name.
Steps to Generate Therapy Business Name Ideas
The process of selecting a therapy business name isn’t something to rush through. Follow these steps, sleep on it, and run them by a friend or advisor before finalizing your therapy business name. You’ll be glad later that you spent the time on it now.
Step 1: Identify your Niche
If you’ve been following me for some time, you know I’m all about connecting back to your niche for nearly all items marketing-related. And your therapy business name is no exception. If you’re new to the concept of identifying your niche, you can learn about doing so in my article: Private Practice Marketing Strategy: Find Your Niche.
If you have 3-5 areas of specialty, see if there is an umbrella category that helps capture your interests. Maybe you have several interests related to working with kids. Maybe your top priority is creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ folks. See if there’s a central topic you can focus on to hone in your name.
For me, I opted for “Christian counseling” as an umbrella category, even though I have fairly nuanced areas of specialty within this umbrella category.
Step 2: Identify Keywords
I talked about keywords briefly earlier in this article. But this is a critical aspect to focus your therapy business name ideas around in order to leverage the SEO value of your business name.
Using the umbrella category you identified in step one, follow the keyword planning strategies I go over in this article to come up with a few possible keywords for your website homepage: SEO for Therapists: Keyword Planning.
You may also want to consider whether it makes sense to include your city name as part of the keyword you wish to target.
Step 3: Brainstorm Names
Take the keywords from above and start stringing possible names together. This is also a great point to enlist the help of a friend or colleague to help you think outside of the box.
Be kind to yourself and let your imagination drive this step. We’ll sift through these more in the next step.
Step 4: Do Market Research
It’s super important to check you don’t choose a name that’s already taken in your area or one that’s so similar to another’s name that it will be confusing for potential clients to distinguish who’s who.
To avoid this, take the names you brainstormed in step four and run each one through a Google search. See what pops up, and if any names are already taken or you find ones that are similar, knock those off the list. You may even need to circle back to the brainstorming phase if you exhaust your options.
For example, based on my niche and keywords, I could have considered naming my practice “San Jose Christian Counseling.” However, there is a local group called “Christian Counseling Center San Jose.” This is too similar of a name and would make it difficult for clients to distinguish me from them. Instead, I opted to go with “Life Christian Counseling” to reflect the keyword “Christian Counseling” while also capturing my core value of helping people live life to the fullest.
Step 4: Check Domain Availability
Whatever you do, make sure you select a name that has the domain name available as well! This was an error I made with my private practice name and I needed to go with a “.net” domain name instead of a “.com” name. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s important to check you can have a legitimate domain name that includes your full therapy business name. Doing so will help boost your SEO and make it easy for clients to remember how to find your website.
In order to check the availability of a domain name, I suggest you use a tool called NameCheckr. Namecheckr not only checks the domain availability but it also checks whether the handle is available on a wide array of social media platforms. It’s great to snag a name on as many platforms as you can, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll ever use those platforms.
As an example, here’s what pops up on Namecheckr when I search “privatepracticeskills” (aka MY domain name!). As you can see, it shows where it’s available or not:
This wouldn’t be a great name to use since it’s already taken by yours truly. Enter variations of your name into the Namecheckr search until you find a winner. This may just be your therapy business name!
Step 5: File a Fictitious Business Name
Every state has its own requirements for how to process a fictitious business name or dba. Check with your state and city about the process for filing a fictitious business name. In my state of California, each county has its own rules for filing a fictitious business name. A bit of Googling can help you arrive at the right place. (If you’re curious, here is the process for filing a fictitious business name in my county of Santa Clara).
These are also the exact steps I followed to come up with the name “Private Practice Skills” for this website. Not only is it easy to identify what I’m about based on my name, but it’s really helped boost my ranking in Google search.
Of course, you can always create a dba name at any point – it doesn’t have to happen when you first set up your business. But it does avoid having to do any rebranding and website redesign if you have your fictitious business name set up from the beginning.
If you don’t go with a dba, there are many other opportunities to build your brand and your SEO. So no need to fret!
I hope this article sets you on the right foot to generate therapy business name ideas that are the best fit for you and your practice!
Ready to dive deeper into starting a private practice? I have a free guide for that! Check it out here to grab your free guide: Start a Private Practice in Counseling
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!