Episode 27: TikTok Therapists — Are They Here To Stay? [Featuring Jeff Guenther]
TikTok Therapists — insert eye roll and raise the "unethical" flag. But, what if you could help thousands of people with a 30-second video, every time you put one out?
Jeff Guenther is back on another hilarious episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. Jeff is the owner of Therapy Den and now one of the biggest therapy names on TikTok.
Jeff and I talk about the Good, Bad, and the Money you can make by becoming a TikTok therapist.
- Jeff's journey to 1 million followers and counting
- Sponsorship and advertisement $$ you can make
- How putting out content can help more people in 30 seconds than you could in an hour in the office
- Jeff's weekly preparation for video creation — this isn't just a hobby for him
- The misconceptions about TikTok and Therapy
A Thanks to Our Sponsor!
I would also like to thank CPH & Associates for sponsoring this episode.
This episode of the all things private practice podcast is being brought to you by CPH & Associates. CPH & Associates is a leading provider of malpractice insurance for outpatient mental health practices throughout the United States. With up-to-date legal resources and competitive rates, CPH can ensure your private practice against board complaints and malpractice lawsuits.
CPH has committed to providing exceptional customer service and superior coverage to mental health professionals. Protect your career and find peace of mind with CPH. Get a quote and apply at cphins.com/allthings.
PATRICK CASALE: This episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast is brought to you by CPH & Associates, a leading provider of malpractice insurance for outpatient mental health practices throughout the United States.
With up-to-date legal resources and competitive rates, CPH can insure your private practice against board complaints and malpractice lawsuits. CPH offers both individual and business entity coverage which can protect your LLC or corporation. A business policy with CPH is tailored to meet the needs of your practice providing options to add general liability to your office, business, personal property coverage, and cyber liability for data breach coverage.
Policyholders also have access to our attorney helpline providing two hours of consultation with a malpractice attorney for situations with a client that could result in a claim or lawsuit. CPH is committed to providing exceptional customer service and superior coverage to mental health professionals. Protect your career and find peace of mind with CPH. Get a quote and apply online at cphins.com/allthings.
Hey, everyone, you are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm Patrick Casale. And I am joined today by my friend and colleague, Jeff GUENTHER for the second time. We are going to talk about more polarizing topics in the world of mental health and therapy and we're going to talk about becoming a TikTok influencer, therapist, business owner, and the pros, cons, and the dark, dirty fucking secrets in between. So, Jeff, thanks again for being here, and you know, I always enjoy our conversations, and I'm interested to see where today goes.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, I'm interested to see where it goes too. Honestly, I'm all over the place with how I feel about TikTok, and being on TikTok, and I have a lot to say about it. And I feel like, this is my prediction, is that at the end of this episode, after a therapist or anybody who listens to it, they're going to either be like, “Fuck, now I'm never getting on TikTok, this sounds horrible.” Or they're just like, “Hell yeah, this is amazing. I can't wait to do it.” A lot of times, there's not a lot of middle ground here.
PATRICK CASALE: I was just thinking about that, as you were saying that, about the middle ground piece of like, you're either all in and invested in this shit, or like you want nothing to do with it. So, tell us about how you kind of got into this world of TikTok influencing because you have, how many followers at this point in time?
JEFF GUENTHER: Like 815,000, I think.
PATRICK CASALE: Holy shit! So, we're talking about like, we're at a million in another couple of weeks, I imagine, if not sooner than that.
JEFF GUENTHER: In like two to six weeks, probably at a million.
PATRICK CASALE: When you started this and you kind of started going down the rabbit hole of, “Ooh, this could be something that could be useful.” Do you ever see it becoming what it's become?
JEFF GUENTHER: I mean, I'm not going to lie, I have dreamt of being an influencer. So yeah, I mean, that was a goal of like when I started TikTok, I was like, I think I got this, I think I understand it. I've been like watching it for two years. And I'm a big fan of TikTok. And TikTok is just sort of like, you know, I like YouTube, but YouTube is just sort of like these are really long fucking videos. TikTok is just like short-form YouTube. And TikTok has the best most creepiest accurate algorithm ever. It learns you and knows you better than you know yourself, better than your therapist knows you.
So like, there's something incredibly attractive and powerful about that. And I was like, I think I understand the algorithm. I also know that mental health is trending like no other time before, because of like the fucking garbage dumpster fire that we all live in. So, I'm going to go ahead and try to take-
PATRICK CASALE: Podcast episode title right there, The Garbage Truck and Dumpster Fire That We All Live In/TikTok. So, you're going to take advantage of this and you kind of get the sense that like, I have the foresight to know that mental health is trending, I'm going to start talking about topics A, B, and C, and see where this goes.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah. And also, as you know, and maybe many of your listeners know, the content that I had been typically creating for the past four or five, six years, whatever it's been, it's been directed towards therapists and I love you therapists, but I'm tired of you therapists, and I now wanted to like just not create any more content for therapists. I was just like, I mean, I still do and I'm still going to, but I want to see if I can connect with like the normal people, the non-therapists out there. And I was like, TikTok is my way. I'm going to go ahead and try to do that.
And it started out with me being like, I'm going to try to be hilarious. Like, I think that I am very funny and nobody knows about this sort of like irreverent side of my like sense of humor. And so the first three videos that I did are very weird, did not work. I think they're hilarious, but nobody else really did. And so then on my fourth video, I was just like, “God, I'm just going to give the kids what they're here for.” And I made a video on like five questions that you should ask your therapist and one of the questions was, you should ask your therapist what they've diagnosed you with because it's likely that they probably have a diagnosis for you.
And TikTok eats up the diagnosis shit because the Gen Zers and Millennials are constantly using TikTok for better or worse to diagnose themselves, to be like, “What the hell is going on with me? And like the sort of like unsettling upsetting side that maybe therapists would feel about that it's just like, “Oh, TikTok is not therapy.” And I explicitly say that.
But so it's just like, it feels like having ADHD, or being on the spectrum, or even having a personality disorder, or something like is very trendy, or is on-trend. And so like, kids are like, “Oh, I must be this.” So, anything about like diagnosis can really start trending.
But on the other side of that, it's kind of like, well, you know, therapy is really hard to get into, it's hard to find a therapist, because we're all busy, or you have to have money, or you have to have insurance, or there's so many things that are getting in the way of that. So, if like kids can use TikTok, or Google, or Instagram to really understand how their psyche works, and all these therapists are like providing really good content, then that's amazing. You can advocate for yourself. So, those are two sides of one of the issues and there's many, many issues.
But ever since I made that video, that video got 100,000 views just like in a few hours, and that launched me. And so if you're going to do this, you like eventually have to have somewhat of a viral video and then if you keep on chugging along, you can like create a really big account.
PATRICK CASALE: So, it's so interesting, because I hear so many things going on right now. And I imagine that you feel like you're in the center of a lot of polarizing stuff in the therapist world. A lot of the times I think some people would even use the term like notorious or notoriety that comes with your personality, and how you speak up about the things that you're passionate about. You just mentioned like two things that are really important, right? Like, the normalizing of diagnosis, even though saying, this is not a way to diagnose, but these are things that you should ask about in terms of what your therapist is actually conceptualizing. I don't think enough clients do that.
And then also, naming the fact that therapy is really fucking hard to get into. We're in a mental health pandemic. Nobody has openings. I mean, everyone's starting practices and filling up very quickly. And it's wonderful that you're naming those things. Because, again, that's normalizing the experience for people out there who maybe don't know what it's like to be on the other side.
Now, I know you get a lot of shit for this, too. So, what is the other side? Like? What's the dark side of some of this? Because I think that's what people really want to know about is like, what else do I have to take into consideration when I'm doing this and doing it as a therapist or for mental health purposes?
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, I want to talk about the cons or the dark side, just to name off a few other pros. So, you could get a bunch of followers, that's great if that's all you're looking for that could lead to a ton of clients. Not that we need it anymore. But I mean, I would, if my practice could hold it, I would have thousands of clients, hundreds of people are reaching out to me every day. But this isn't really about the client. Like, a TikTok influencing thing like isn't about the clients really so much. It's about like creating extra streams of income. So now all of a sudden, you have a really big opportunity to create extra streams of income. And it’s about brand building. Like, this is your opportunity to like build a brand with people that resonate with what your niche is.
And if you have a big enough account, which really maybe might only be like 50,000 followers, which sounds like a big number, but it might not be too difficult to get there if you like really work at it. After about 50,000 followers or so, you will get approached by sponsors. People will ask you if you can, like, you know, make a video about their thing. I've said no to all of them so far. We're going to talk about that if you want.
So, you can make a ton of money and in lots of different ways, and for me, the best part about it is that it's creatively challenging. I like to try to come up with like, some really interesting way of educating people or being funny in less than a minute. So, that's just like a really fun thing for me to do and that's what kind of like keeps me going every day. However, yeah, you got something to say?
PATRICK CASALE: I was just thinking about that. That's such a good point of like, we need to have it be very quick, right? Like we need to have it engage and have people feel like they got something out of it in a minute or less, and as we see attention spans shrink, and get less and less, including my own, I do think that's why TikTok has become so fucking popular and almost borderline addicting in some ways because it's like one minute of like enjoyment, dopamine hit, onto the next thing, on to the next thing, right? Are you sitting around like thinking about how you're going to structure or is it more like spur of the moment idea, I'm jumping into this and creating this?
JEFF GUENTHER: I mean, I've created a structure. So, I have a template. And if you go, if you search for Therapy Jeff on Tiktok, you'll start scrolling through my videos, and you're like, “I see what he's doing here. I totally get it.” And after we talk about like the cons or the dark side, I want to go into tips for being successful.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely.
JEFF GUENTHER: You want to go down this rabbit hole with me? So, I do want to get to that. But I also think, yeah, you're right. You know how they say like, you know, when people develop apps, or you look at your phone, it's sort of like, it feels very much like a slot machine, where you sit in front of a slot machine and get those dopamine hits, and there's like intermittent reinforcement, this is just 100% that. You are like literally scrolling through this endless supply of dopamine hits. And sometimes you get just enough to keep on scrolling through 10 more videos.
So, I am contributing to the downfall of society, and I'm going to try to cash in on it. I don't fucking care. I think we all should too. I mean, yes, but also, I'm also trying to like create really good educational content.
PATRICK CASALE: Sure, yeah. And I think that's the thing, right? Like, there's so much judgment around the fact that people can monetize this stuff. But isn't that what we're all doing as entrepreneurs, is we are monetizing our skills in whatever capacity we can. And most therapists are starting to realize that their skills lend themselves to more than just clinical work, and the realization of like, “Oh, shit, I have so much more to offer the world in all of these ways, and I can make money doing them.” And that's okay because you're still providing some sort of help, or guidance, or support in one capacity or another.
And I just think that's a major trend in the mental health therapy world of like, we still have a lot of money shit to work through and that's going to continue until we address our own money trauma and anxiety. And monetizing a TikTok account isn't unethical, for everyone listening, and monetizing a TikTok account is not a bad thing. It's just about making sure that your values align with what you're doing, and that you are using your business platform for whatever purposes that you want it to serve.
So yeah, let's talk about the monetization piece and how to be successful because I think a lot of people listening are probably apprehensive or scared or like may have never even opened the fucking app. And I'm going to like, I could probably create a following, right? Like, but do I want to go down that rabbit hole? Because I am the hyper-focused, ADHD, autistic type where it's like tunnel vision, and I will never come out. I just started Game of Thrones downstairs before I got on this podcast for the 10th fucking time this year. My wife is DMing me like, “Please turn that shit off. I see that you're watching it. Like, please don't go down this rabbit hole.” But I'm already down it, so here we are.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, so I can understand why you're thinking twice about getting on the TikTok bandwagon. It's addictive. I mean, you know, like, I'm also in it for the likes. Like, I get the dopamine hits when I make these little viral videos, and they get to, you know, a certain amount of views that I think is a good amount of views. I feel so good about myself, I feel successful, I feel seen. Like, all the followers, my audience that I've created, they love me. They love me more than anyone. They love me in such an unhealthy degree. I mean, not all of them, but like the adoration that I get is bonkers.
However, let's talk about the dark side a little bit. So, I have done been doing this for maybe five months or so. I've made about 275-ish videos. That's more than once a day, up to three times a day. Which you might be like, “That's a lot.” And you'd be right, that is a lot. But I have a really big following. And that's one of the ways to like continue it to make it even bigger. It's going to take up a lot of time. I devote 15 to 20 hours per week. You don't have to do that. But I do. And I take it really seriously. And it's now part of my identity.
It's not like, “I need to like make a TikTok.” It's like, “I can't wait to make a TikTok.” It's not like, “I have to go to the gym and I hate it.” It's like, “I love being fit and I can't wait to be more fit.” Like, it's just sort of, so that's the reason why I can do it. But time will be taken up, it's going to cut into everything, work, personal life unless you have really good boundaries around it.
I am a single person with no kids. I have all the fucking time in the world. You are probably not that. Or maybe you are and if you are, start a TikTok. So, there's the time thing. There's also like, you're going to mess up, and when you mess up, and when you say that, “Wrong thing.” Whether it really is the wrong thing or you being taken out of context, or whatever, you will be told, especially, if you have a bigger account, you'll be told, you'll be called out, sort of like counseled in a way or try to get counseled. And you have to figure out how you're going to respond to that. You need to think about that beforehand, because you're going to be like, “Fuck this. That's not what I'm saying.”
The what aboutism on TikTok and everywhere probably is rampant. So, if I make a video that's just one minute about like Five Reasons You're Not in a Healthy Relationship, there's going to be people that are being like, “Yeah, but what if you're coming from an abusive relationship?” Or, “What if you're not neurotypical?” Or, “What if you're dating a narcissist?” Or, “What if you have this trauma?”
And all the what-ifs or what abouts are right. You are right. Yeah, like, I'm not even going to argue that because you're correct. But you could do that with every single fucking video I put up there. So, you have to figure out what you're going to do about that and sometimes you cross the line. So, the first line that I crossed that I really didn't feel like I did, but it turned out I did, is a funny little video I made. I thought was funny, where I said, and this was like trending at the time, was like Five Things That You Could Say to Low Key Piss Off Your therapist. And one of the things were just like, ask to sit in their chair, or you should end the session, sort of that like, whatever harmless funny things.
But then another thing was like, go ahead, and Google your symptoms, and bring it in, and be like, “You're wrong about my diagnosis and this is actually what's wrong with me.” Because we've all had these clients who are just like, “Actually, Google tells me this.” And I got a lot of hate being like, “Actually, those are clients advocating for themselves, and I can't believe you're like making fun of them. That's not okay.” So then I had to make an apology video, sort of like me letting people know that I understand. And I'm sorry that I did this. That's happened, I don't know, maybe 10 times where I've, like, stepped in it accidentally. And every time I'm reactive, and I'm like, “Fuck this, I'm not making tic TikToks anymore.” Like, you are not letting me be funny, or you're not letting me be silly, or sarcastic, or hyperbolic.
So, there's this extra thing that goes along with being a therapist on TikTok, or social media, where it's like, aren't you supposed to be professional? And I think that's like a really interesting conversation, is like the professionalism that therapists are supposed to have and if we agree with that or not, and if we're supposed to be really professional, and just educational, we should not be silly. We should not be like having these, like, interesting takes or something. We should probably not even be on social media at all, you know? And there's a big group of people that don't like that some therapists are being themselves, are being authentic, and like putting out their views on TikTok. So, how do you feel about like the professionalism thing?
PATRICK CASALE: You just made so many points that I want to comment on. And the first one that comes immediately to my mind is that I like that you're naming the fact that like, this is kind of an ego boost, in some ways, like it's stroking the ego, right? Like, all the likes, all the positive reinforcement that comes with it, because regardless of whether we want to admit that or not, when we share something when any of our posts get likes, comments, shares, something on social media, it does create that validation and reinforcement, even though maybe sometimes it's not the healthiest reinforcement, but it does, and it really does give you that boost. So, I like that you name that. Because I think that's really important for people to acknowledge, like, we can name that stuff, and that's okay. It doesn't mean that it's unhealthy behavior, right? Then let's go into-
JEFF GUENTHER: You're looking at all the downloads for your podcast, right?
PATRICK CASALE: Oh, every fucking day, multiple times a day, man. Like, I'm not going to lie. I was looking at the one I released on Monday with a good friend of mine, and I’m like, “Oh my God, okay, we hit this number, okay, we hit this number.” And at the end of the day, does that really fucking matter? Probably not, but it does feel good that people are listening and downloading. So, I would be lying if I said otherwise, that it was just like, I don't care what the response is. Well then it's not a fucking hobby for me at the end of the day, either.
So, I want to jump into the ethical dilemma here because I think you're so spot on with this where it's like, you can say the wrong thing all the time in any situation. I do appreciate that you are saying, I make these apology videos, and I walk it back, and I at least name and acknowledge it because there's a lot of people out there that probably wouldn't. They probably would have the fucky reaction and either say it or just cancel their account, right?
And then we get into the conversation that is so much more, we could go down this road forever, but the conversation about therapists, and being professional, and social media and how they interact with the world. And I know that if you're listening to this podcast, you know very well that I am a huge advocate for therapists being human beings because we are. And we can't always get so caught up in this mentality of, I've got to show up a certain way, I've got to dress a certain way, I've got to be robotic, I've got to be like a blank slate, I can't disclose, I can't be authentic, I can't share my tattoos. Like, who fucking cares? You're a human being who's doing work in a relational way.
So, if you're showing up on TikTok, on Instagram, on Facebook, I am sure there are times where you have put stuff out to the world where you feel a little uncomfortable. And maybe some people in your circle have told you that you went too far, you said too much, you disclosed too much information, you weren't being ethical, you weren't being professional. I get hater emails all the time now all about my lazy unprofessional ways when I'm using too many F-bombs, so to speak. And my response, I want to say fuck off, like, you don't have to follow me because it will always be like, “I love your content, it's been so helpful for me. However, I would really like it if you didn't swear as much. It makes you sound lazy and unprofessional.”
And I think to myself, so you like my content, you get it for free, it's been helpful, but you don't like the way that I deliver it. That is just fucking ridiculous to me. So, I politely say, “The unsubscribe button is at the bottom of the email, and you no longer have to be subjected to lazy, unprofessional content filled with expletives.” You know, I think you're so right. Because we're so quick to jump on that bandwagon as a profession of like calling each other out and almost shaming one another when it comes to, hey, this is how you're showing up in the world. This is what you're putting out there.
And what I hear you saying is your TikTok is just for fun, and to influence, and to have a presence, that doesn't mean you're going out there and bashing therapists, that doesn't mean that you're going out there and bashing your own profession. It's like, “Hey, I'm just making these funny videos, and people can take them as they will.” And it's unfortunate that there is backlash for that as well, too.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, it is unfortunate. And I think that some people who are going through something as if like therapists where we’re trying to figure out what are we on social media? And I don't think we quite know. I'm totally in alignment with you and I'm just like, fuck it, I'm going to be my 100% self.
I also understand that this might be bad. I don't know, like, bad for me, possibly bad for therapists in general. But I think it's like overall, a good thing, that we are our authentic selves and it's okay with me, or some people feel kind of weird or awkward about that.
Because I have like a bigger following and there I have a bunch of fans, and I'm happy about that, there's also people that don't like me. And you don't even have to have like a large following to be disliked these days. But like, if you do, there will be like a lot more opportunity to be disliked or to have your content combed through and to find out ways to try to, you know, get under your skin or something.
And just like I like to get all the likes and all the views, you know, the opposite, I don't like to get the hate. It still makes me feel bad, and sad, and upset with myself. So, there's people out there that think I'm really annoying. And it might just be the way I talk or the type of content that I deliver. And I was watching or listening to a favorite podcast of mine called Is It a Cult where they just like taking a like prostate? Is it a cult or…
PATRICK CASALE: Or is it a cult?
JEFF GUENTHER: They did one on Instagram therapists, Is It a Cult? And there are some Instagram therapists out there that are questionable. There's one, I'll call her out. She doesn't care about me, I think, but she goes by the Instagram name of The Holistic Psychologist. She feeds a bunch of people garbage. She tries to like take your money. She has like really nice shiny content that people get hooked into. She has millions of followers.
And on this podcast, I was listening to it. It was really good, educational, funny. There's like a cult author who, like, writes about cults, and there's a comedian who's really funny. They talk about The Holistic Psychologist, and then they go to break, and they come back, and they play a clip from one of my videos. And I'm like, “Oh, no.” And at the end of one of my videos they say, “This guy is so fucking annoying.” And that's all they say. They don't say why I'm annoying. They don't say what the problem is with me. And I was so sad because like, I looked up to these women and they think that I'm really annoying. I ended up sending them a message where I was like, “Tell me about why I'm annoying. I want you as my audience to like enjoy what I'm…” And they were like, “Sorry, we didn't even think about it. We just said you’re fucking annoying, like, and we just threw it out there. And you're not and you're making good content.” Whatever!
So, like it turned into like a good conversation. But now I know like from that, and from like other videos that people have posted, if someone posts a video of mine, and they like say that this guy is problematic, I'll look through those comments and will be like, “Yeah, we all can't stand him.” So, you've got to have thick skin.
And I also like operate as an avatar. And I'm not saying this to like, you'll see what I mean. I operate as an avatar in that like, I am a white, straight privileged man. I have every single privilege all the privileges were given to me. So, I am this like avatar of like this white privilege, man, person and if you have a problem with like, white male therapists or whatever, like you're going to be like, “Fuck this guy.” There's like so much to throw at me, understandably so. Like, I totally get where that's coming from. I don't think it's fucked up. But that's the flack that I'm going to catch. So, if you're are white therapists, a man or a woman, and you start like putting shit out there, you are an avatar that's going to collect some criticism, whether it's fair or whether it's not. So, you need to be sure that you can like handle that. You know what I mean?
PATRICK CASALE: I like that you name that. You know, acknowledging the privilege piece, and just a recognition that like, that's going to bring some emotion, and some frustration, and some anger, and rightfully so in a lot of ways. So, I think that's really important to name it. And I like that you're also just naming your own vulnerability in this because I think you're right from the outside looking in, people probably look at you, and your success, and how outspoken you are about some topics. And they're like, “Fuck this guy. Like, I don't like him.”
JEFF GUENTHER: Totally.
PATRICK CASALE: And you're a human being who also has feelings, regardless of success. And of course, it's going to sting when you start to see like, the more successful you become, however, we want to define success, whether it's number of followers, number of, you know, sponsorships, it doesn't matter, it is going to also come with the other side where it is going to be more and more people who don't like you.
And sometimes those thoughts, and feelings, and reactions are justified, and sometimes it's just like, “I don't like that fucking guy, because he has a million followers, and I think he sucks.” And like, I've realized that too, as my reputation has grown, you're never going to attract everybody, right? That's just the reality. And being successful and being an entrepreneur who is out in the world, and visible, and being seen, there's a lot of vulnerability that comes with that.
I think that the more successful people out there in these platforms are doing so because they are willing to put themselves out there, they know they're being seen, it is uncomfortable, it is vulnerable, there is a lot of scare or fearfulness in that, but the ability to kind of embrace that and also recognize, like, sometimes this is going to fucking hurt, and sometimes this is going to be really painful, and sometimes my own shit is going to come up in terms of feeling insecure or not good enough, or like I made a mistake that I can't walk back.
And I think that's really the human experience in so many ways and being willing to just put it out there feels very different than the opposite where it's like I have these ideas, but I don't want to do it because I'm scared of how people are going to react.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, exactly. That other like final sort of, I don't know if it's a dark side, but something to like think about, which I did not think about, and I kind of paid the price, you should ask yourself, how would you feel if a client of yours saw your videos and saw you on TikTok? I blew up really quickly, you know, on the fourth video. This was not something I was like thinking about. Like, the following week where I saw a bunch of clients, over half of them were like, “So, I was scrolling through TikTok and you come up on my phone.” And how jarring of an experience would that be to like see your therapist come up, and they're trying to be funny, or they're trying to be quippy, or they're trying to be like really educational.
But whatever I'm trying to be or I'm acting like, my TikTok personality, sure, it's like an authentic part of me, but it's also like a character of mine, or a side of mine that my clients do not see. Like, they might see like little bits, or subtle, or whatever. But like, I'm not trying to like stuff therapy into one minute for my clients. I like know, you know, obviously.
But some of my clients felt like they were shocked, but they were just like, “I don't know what to do with this.” You know, some of them were like, “Can I comment?” And I was like, I'd rather you not because just sort of like confidentiality and whatever. And some of them are like, “Well, is this how you really think? Are you your TikTok personality? Or are you who you are in front of me.” And there was like some trust broken or something funky really happened there. And then we had to process these things, you know? Obviously, there's like, you can use it for really good shit to grow and all that wonderful stuff. If you're a good therapist, of course, you can turn it into something that's healing or illuminating.
Even know like my clients say that they're like fans of mine and like loved when they see me on their feed, it's weird. So, you know, think about that. Because to some degree, we all want to like, oh, to a big degree, probably we want to protect our client relationship. So, you have to kind of like, weigh that and think about what you're putting out there.
PATRICK CASALE: That's really well said, and I'm sure that's a fear for a lot of you listening. I've heard it myself when people are, you know, should I create an Instagram? Should I create a TikTok? Should I create a Facebook page? What if my clients come across it? That's the risk that you run when you are a small business owner, is that you are going to be visible and sometimes you're going to run into your clients in the community, sometimes you're going to run into your clients on social media. And I think it is about how you approach it and how you respond to it. So, it sounds like you did some repair work with some of those clients just to be like, “Hey, this is just a personality, right? Like, this is a hobby, this is something I enjoy doing the same way we all have these things as parts of our lives.”
And I think that it sounds like you handled that really well. But it's a very valid concern for some of you who are like, “Do I want that to happen to me?” And I think that the more visibility you have, the topics that you talk about, you have a likelihood of that having a very good potential. As my podcast has taken off, I've had clients text me, “Hey, been listening to your podcast, it's really great. When are you going to break up with me in terms of no longer wanting to be my therapist.” And I'm like, “Oh, shit.” Well, that is coming. I mean, I'm glad we can name that and we can have this conversation of working myself out of being a therapist. And that allows for us to have some really good conversation around abandonment, and security, transitioning, and I think it's about how we address it and how we respond because those comments are valid, and those concerns and fears are also valid. So, I think it sounds like you handled it really well. And for any of you listening, just be mindful about how you show up and the fact that people are going to see your stuff. That's just the reality.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, people are going to see your staff and you know, at the beginning of every intake I have a little speech when I was like, “Hey, Portland is a small place, we might run into each other. If we do this is what happens.” And now I'm adding TikTok to that speech. “Hey, you might find me on TikTok.” And you tell them, this is how you might feel, and you shouldn't make a comment and blah, blah, blah.
The other thing about that is that, like, clients also ask like, “So, was this TikTok about me?” And I'm just like, “Oh, no, of course not.” But probably, like, you don’t even like, “No, hell no, not at all.” But all the client shit that, like everything is like gets soaked up, and will somehow come out some way in these TikTok videos, even though I'm like vigilant about making sure that I don't have a session, and then make a TikTok video right after and be like, “Oh, my God, what I talked about…” Like, but it seeps through, and clients are going to be like, “Is he talking about me now? Is he talking about me now? Is he talking about me now?” And no, but yes. You know what I mean?
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah. Like, you're not setting out that day to create that specific TikTok episode or video, but with the client in mind, but some of the stuff you're talking about the client exhibits or client has those struggles, or concerns, or shows up that way. Yeah, that makes total sense. So, you're starting to build this into your informed consent process. It sounds like what do clients say when you say like, “You may find me on TikTok and I may talk about A, B and C.” What kind of responses do you generally get?
JEFF GUENTHER: Well, you know, at first they're like, “Fuck, yeah, I want a rock star therapist that's an influencer on TikTok.” Until they actually see me and they come in it's a totally different experience. And so, one of the things I might say on a video is like, why is it okay for you to be in a relationship with somebody that's not going to meet your needs? And that's the exact same line I used to start a video, and now it feels like that video is all about them and I'm like yelling at them through that video or something. So, I'm just like, you're going to think that it's really cool until you really start personalizing it, and then let's talk about that. It's just more like interesting stuff to talk about. But it's something that needs to be in your informed consent.
PATRICK CASALE: Wow, I would never have even thought about that. So, that's really wonderful for people to know and think about, like, the fact that you're naming that, and then yeah, clients are going to internalize it, make it personal, and then all of a sudden, this is a very different type of conversation, that probably wouldn't be happening had this app not been created and exist. So, it's just interesting because for those of you listening who are like feeling some resistance, or even anger, or like, “Hell, no, I could never do this, why are you doing this?” The world is changing. And COVID has changed the world significantly in terms of how we interact with our technology and how we connect through technology. And I don't see that shifting, I don't see that ever going away. I think that is going to continue to trend in that direction.
So, it's kind of one of those evolve or get left behind mentalities in a lot of ways too, with a lot of the stuff that people are doing out there. So just, you know, be creative and tap into what you've got because there are ways to make this a really successful venture and I think you want to talk about that, like, monetization, and sponsorships, and you know, stuff like that, that can really come up for people when they start to become somewhat successful.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, so let's go through real quick what I think you should do if you want to be a successful therapist influencer on TikTok. Okay, like I said before, post a lot, don't fuck around. You post at least once a day, try to get that shit under one minute. It could go all the way to three minutes, but the sweet spot is one minute. You want to make the first two seconds, maybe three seconds incredibly hooky. So like I just said before, like, you know, a really great hook could be like, are you needy or are you just not getting your needs met in a relationship? Right? And so it's like, “Oh, that's me.” You know, and then you got them, and then you can like talk for the next 30 to 60 seconds.
And the more like amount of time that they watch your video, the more TikTok would be like, “Oh, I guess people are really resonating with this, we'll send this to another 10 people, another 100 people, another 1000 people.” And TikTok is constantly being like, how much of this video are people watching? TikTok wants to make sure that people are watching at least 50% of the video, so it’s a 60 video, they want to see you get to 30 seconds, you know what I mean. So, you want to get them hooked in order to watch at least 50% so that it can start to go viral.
Be very niche. We talk about this, everyone knows this by now. I don't even have to fucking say it, and say it but like, just be niche. What is your niche, talk about it. You are going to create a like devoted audience that is into it. And most of your videos will not go viral. The ones that don't are for your core audience and they love it, and they'll watch it, and you're a rock star to them. Pack in as much info as you can.
So, talk faster than you'd like to talk, not so fast that it's like upsetting. But you're not going to talk like this, and just sort of have these musings. It's not going to help anybody. It's kind of annoying. And I think that like if you really want to do this go to Therapy Jeff on TikTok and look at all my videos. Just start scrolling through all of them and start making videos with the same topics that I've made. But put your take on it. What's your spin, because, like, we've all said everything. Everything's out there. Nothing is original anymore. But it will be like original if you put your little spin on it just like I've done. I'm not going out there and stealing content. I'm like, oh, that's an interesting idea. What would I say? You should do that too, look at my videos, do the same thing that I do.
And then create community. When you post a video, there'll be like your biggest fans that start commenting right when you post it, talk to those fans, thank them for being there, give them thoughtful responses, like stay on that video for five to 15 minutes while people are commenting and then you can leave it. But you need to like engage with your community. And those people, they'll create content for you basically by like asking you questions, and you just create videos that are answering their questions. So, it's sort of like this nice little cycle.
If you do that, you could be very successful. And it's very exciting, it's very fun, and it's fantastic. And that's when you'll start to be like approached by people to give you money. So, do you have any questions about anything that I just said there?
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I mean, all of that is great advice to follow, not just for TikTok, but in general, when it comes to social media creation, because content is king, right? It's got to be consistent, you've got to show up, you've got to be visible. And I think that's why people shy away from social media marketing sometimes.
And then ultimately, like you said, content is recycled, right? Like, I'm not the only podcast host out there, I'm not the only private practice coach out there. Our ideas all are very similar, but we all have our own voices. So, keep that in mind when you're listening to what Jeff is saying, because he's spot on with the fact that people have said what you're probably going to talk about before, but you're going to say it differently. And that's okay. And that's the whole point of this.
And engagement, engage, engage, engage, especially, with the people who are supporting you. For the people who buy my stuff, who buy my courses, who buy my retreats, those are the people, you know, who not only do I care about the relationship personally, but those are the people who are constantly plugging, or sharing, or want to be involved and connected, you really want to nurture and foster those relationships, because that is going to be creating success for you and for them in the long run.
Talk to us a little bit about the sponsor piece. I've been getting sponsor offers for the podcast, I'm very selective. I imagine that you are too because essentially, whoever sponsors us, right? Like, that's our reputation as well. If I'm pushing a brand that I don't believe in or is doing horrible, unethical shit throughout the world, or whatever the case may be, that is a reflection on me. So, it sounds like you've turned quite a few down. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, I probably get approached once to 10 times a week with like. So, a lot of these people or companies are like in the mental health industry, great, and they're trying to bridge the gap, like, make it so that like therapy is more accessible. You know how the apps are doing that these days? And I don't think anybody has figured it out yet and I don't like what's happening with it. So, a lot of those apps have like, you know, therapists on-demand, the Uber of therapists sort of shit. I look into them. I hope that they are like doing it the right way. I don't know really exactly what the right way is or if it can be profitable, but they're not quite doing it the right way. I don't want to do that.
The Biden campaign contacted me, which was really crazy. And they're like, “Hey, we're doing the…” What the fuck are they doing? “…the Build Back Better campaign. We're breaking it up into all these different packages and we need people like you to explain what the Build Back Better campaign is. And we love your voice, we love your style. Can you just talk about it?” And they offered me $1,000 per video.
You know, I'm a Democrat, I voted for Biden, and I hope he's super successful. But I lean a little bit more progressive. I'm more of like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Bro sort of guy. And my audience is incredibly progressive. So, you also have to think about the audience. If I was like, “Hey, so have you like thought about Biden, and all the great things that he's doing.” I will be canceled by my audience. And I'm also just like not super on board.
So, anyways, there's those sorts of like, funny things. There's lots of, you know, like, random, like, “Could you help me sell these shoes, or these sunglasses?” And none of it like makes sense for me? And I'm like open to doing it. But I've said no partly because like I'm still a 90s kid that thinks that selling out is the worst thing you could possibly do and I would obviously be selling out. So, that's why I say no. But you could you could monetize it that way, which is fine, I won't judge you, I will judge you. But then there's like other ways where you could like create courses or create membership groups, or create apps for like people to like not be another type of like membership group because they want your knowledge, and they think that you're great, and I'm sure you are great.
And so that's something that I would do, but that's just like more time and energy. When I have like a caseload of 10,000 clients, where I'm giving like shitty advice to it, you know, so like, that feels like a lot of work. What I plan on doing is either one of two things or both things. I'm either going to like make my own product that sort of like connects with what I'm putting out there that people can buy, or, and I’m like starting a YouTube channel because YouTube is so much easier to monetize. Because they just run ads against your video and you get 55% of that ad. So like, I'm trying to send people over to YouTube and I'm doing like pretty good at doing that. But that means that I have to create content for YouTube. That's a whole nother podcast.
PATRICK CASALE: Great advice and that could be a whole nother podcast, we can go down the YouTube rabbit hole. Yeah, I like that. I like that you're being intentional, though, about the sponsorship requests, because I think that, again, is just a representation of you, your brand, and also you're thinking about your followers, what would they really be into? Like you said, if I have really progressive followers do I want to be plugging fucking Joe Biden on my podcast? Like, I'm a Democrat, too, but like, trust me, Bernie Bro all the way. My followers would be like, “Did you sell out? Like, what are you doing this for?” Right? At the end of the day. So, if your brand is about being authentic to who you are and to your message, you probably want to be really selective about who you're letting into your world professionally in those ways. And I vet all of my podcast sponsors too. I'm like, do I want to plug whatever you're asking me to plug? Hell no. My audience doesn't want to hear about your shoes, or your sunglasses, or your jeans. Like, nobody gives a shit.
But very cool, Jeff. I appreciate you making the time and talking about this because I do think this is still going to be a conversation that is ongoing in the therapy world over, and over, and over again for the foreseeable future. And I hope everyone can really see both sides of this conversation and not just fixate on one or the other, and it's not black and white, and our profession is not black and white. And I think that we have to try really hard to make sense of that sometimes because of what we've been told or how we kind of move in this profession and how we understand it to be structured, especially, within our ethical guidelines and boards in general. So, I just hope everyone can take this in.
If you want to become a TikTok influencer listen to this episode, follow Jeff on Therapy Jeff on TikTok, check out Therapy Den, his wonderful listing site and directory page for therapists, very inclusive site, allows you to do free searches. I mean, allows you to have free platforms and memberships. So, a lot of good stuff that'll be in the show notes.
And Jeff as usual, I really appreciate having you on. It's always a pleasure. It's always fun. You always have me laughing with my camera and my mic muted, so really appreciate this.
JEFF GUENTHER: Yeah, no, I love being on this podcast and I hope that I can come back a bunch more times in the future.
PATRICK CASALE: For sure, for sure. And if anyone wants to find more of me, allthingspractice.com. New episodes of the All Things Private Practice Podcast coming out every Monday morning. Like, download, subscribe and share and we will see you next week.
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