As of late, I have been helping a couple of colleagues brainstorm about effective ways to build a clientele. One of the questions I’ve been asking myself is, “Where’s the ethical line between effective networking and subtle manipulation for psychotherapists when connecting with people in other contexts and encouraging them to use our services?” As professionals in the mental health field, we can use our knowledge of emotional connections and relationship building for good or bad. Note the following story.
Dr. B and Dr. S were somewhat new professionals in their related fields. As one of their collaborative efforts to give to the community, they facilitated a book discussion on a mental health issue. The topic was one that caught people’s interest and was an area of clinical expertise for Dr. B and a growing one for Dr. S. The group met over a six week period. The group members enjoyed the conversation and each other. Dr. B felt gratification in providing this free service to the community. Dr. S appreciated learning more about the topic from Dr. B’s training. As the six weeks were coming to a close, Dr. S suggested that the two of them launch a therapy group from the book discussion group. It seemed like the natural thing to do and besides, said Dr. S, “The group members really like the topic and us as facilitators, let’s get ‘em while they’re hot!”