Fitness is a billion dollar industry and I’m jealous of it. Not the billion dollar part, surprisingly. I’m jealous because it does something far better than psychology does it. It markets self-improvement to the people who actually consume the product. Programs like Weight Watchers and Cross Fit explain what they do, how they help, what results can be earned, what time frames, and where you can purchase them. Psychology does not do this. Instead, we explain all of the above primarily to each other. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love psychology. I’m insanely (no pun intended) passionate about it actually, married to the stuff. But, as in most long-term relationships, there’s that one thing you want to change about them. And this is that thing. Also, it’s because I love it that this problem occurred. You see, it’s like this:
After one year in psychology, I was over the moon about seeing wonderful and amazing changes in my clients, and hearing the stories of wonderful and amazing changes in my colleague’s clients. After two years, I was annoyed. I had started to pay attention to the time it took for them to come in. I had started paying attention to the crises it took for so many people to come in. I had started paying attention to the number of people who didn’t come in at all. And I thought this is simply not good enough. If they only knew what powerful work we do, how life-enhancing it can be, how much pain it can circumvent, they would come in earlier, be more content, live happier. But they didn’t and many people still don’t. So, I wanted to know why. And I found a trend. An answer. And I do not like it at all. Many people just don’t know what we do.
A common perception of psychology is that we “fix” “crazy people.” And this god-awful, uber limiting thought has some serious repercussions in terms of perpetuating stigmas that often keep people off my couch until shit has completely hit the fan. I talked to a bunch of people- psychologist-seeing and not, about what stops them from seeing one of us, or kept them from doing it for so long. I found that people often fear to go to a psychologist because then it will mean that they’re crazy. Which brings me back to the exercise industry. I am impressed with their ability to get people focused on self-improvement, rather than personal deficits. Because it’s the same thing, isn’t’ it? People don’t fear telling others they are doing *insert random name brand fitness program here* out of fear that people will judge them for being fat. Now, do you see why I’m jealous? If going to the gym doesn’t mean you’re fat, then why does going to a psychologist mean you’re “crazy”? Yeah. It doesn’t. It means, like the gym goer, you are interested in self-improvement, self-enhancement, and becoming healthier.
We need to steal the approach of the exercise and fitness industry and apply it to psychology so that our mind-bendingly wonderful services can help as many people as possible, before they are the mental equivalent of obese, and wrought with the accompanying health concerns. The approach that allowed the fitness industry to do this, is simply business. It’s marketing, it’s branding, it’s advertising and creating a tangible product. When you buy a fitness program, it has neat little booklets, before and after stories, a plan outlined, and a few digestible tidbits about how it works. It includes an outline, a timeline, sets expectations, puts it in a pretty box and makes it accessible through branding and advertising that tell you how you can get it and makes you want it. It makes sense.
I opened LifeWorks Psychology last year with this idea in the background. Now, with our upcoming re-branding, name change and new location, we are pushing this vision to the forefront.
We are going to do it differently.
We are going to MAKE you WANT IT.