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Why psychologists don’t use testimonials

Aug 6, 2021

Have you noticed that unlike life coaches, counsellors or wellbeing therapists, Psychologists never post glowing testimonials or rosy reviews? Here is why…

Psychology is a registered health profession in Australia – this means that people who are approved to use the title of Psychologist must complete an internship to become registered, and then ongoing annual professional development to maintain their registration with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA).

As such we agree to adhere to strict code of ethical behaviour, which includes guidelines on the way we market our services.  These guidelines were updated and reviewed in 2020 to be relevant to the digital world in which we now operate. They are designed to ensure that the public receive accurate and honest information about health care services.

There are several common marketing strategies that regulated health professionals must avoid:

  • Being misleading, deceptive or false in advertising material (fair enough!)
  • Offering gifts, discounts or other methods to entice clients to engage in services (this is why there are no ‘deals’ or ‘sales’ on my fees)
  • Create unreasonable expectations about how treatment might be beneficial (making claims about ‘cures’ or magical solutions)
  • Using testimonials or purported reviews of the service

Testimonials are a positive statement or recommendation of a service or treatment.⁠

Testimonials can be problematic as they might be simply be fake or made up (it’s pretty easy to buy positive reviews from online services). They are also quite biased in that they obviously affirmative not critical or even neutral and are selectively used in promotion.

Testimonials are also subjective to a person’s experience or opinion and have no scientific or objective basis. They can set unrealistic expectations of the benefits of treatment without providing a context for those who might read the review.

For example, if someone with relatively mild anxiety claimed that 2 psychology sessions ‘cured their anxiety’, this might set impractical anticipation for someone with chronically severe anxiety that the service could have the same effect.

While I can’t prevent a client from posting a Google review or making a recommendation in online forums, I do not request clients provide them and cannot use them to advertise my services. ⁠

So instead of testimonials, I use the strength of my credentials and experience, alongside my professional networks to help clients assess if I am the right psychologist to work with them.

If you would like to chat before booking a session I offer free discovery call for new clients so you can check we are a good fit and we ‘click’!

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