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Friday 3 February 2012

Private Practice: Coming Up with a Name

Perhaps not the best name for a real estate firm.

This post is part of a series on private practice issues that will be appearing on Fridays for the while, on the leadup to a series of workshops (based on my book Private Practice Made Simple) taking place in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Edmonton in March (information here).

In Private Practice Made Simple (New Harbinger Publications, June 2011) there are a few guidelines about naming your practice. Here’s a summary:

  • If you plan to operate a multiple-provider practice, think about it before you name it after yourself. Will your colleagues want to be known as “Anna Johanson (And Other Less Important Clinicians)”?
  • Avoid naming your practice after a specific location. Someday you may want to move, or you might open a branch office somewhere else. The North Calgary Clinic will be a bad name for your new place in South Edmonton.
  • Your name should be easy to spell.  Consider the spell-ability of your own name here. If people routinely get it wrong, consider naming your clinic after something else.
  • Make it memorable but simple and short. A bland name (Therapy Services Inc) will be easy to forget. And no one will even try to remember a complicated one (like The Rothstein Centre for Metatheoretical Modeling).
  • Don’t name it after just one difficulty, or that’s all you will get referred to you. If a person with OCD is sent to the Halifax Panic Centre, they will guess (perhaps wrongly) that you aren’t much of an expert on their problem.  
  • Pick a name for which the web address will be intuitively obvious.

As I’ve mentioned before, as part of the publication of Private Practice Made Simple, I’ve posted a series of exercise sheets online that are based on concepts from the book.

For naming your practice, the sheet is a brainstorming exercise that invites you to sit back, space out, and dream up as many options as you can. Then you’ll set the list aside for a day or two before coming back to it. At that point you’ll be able to view your list with fresh eyes. You’ll cross off some options immediately, and a few new ones will most likely come to mind – possibly even the one you will eventually use.

The sheet on naming your practice isn’t mentioned in the book itself, so it’s just on our own website at The actual page can be found here.

A BONUS: Does your practice will involve diagnosing clinical depression? Maybe my online course "Diagnosing Depression Using DSM-5" can help. Click here to access this $25 course for 80% off, or just $5.

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Want more information on operating a private psychotherapy practice? 

Check out my book Private Practice Made Simple.  It contains information on starting a practice, creating a space, designing a website, getting referrals, managing finances, avoiding burnout, and much more.

The book is available at bookstores, from the Changeways Clinic website, and through Amazon here.


  1. How might I find out the name I'm considering already exists?


  2. Simply google the name and see what turns up. Also, if you are registering the name with the local authority, they will turn down the application if the name is already a registered trade name of someone else.