Top issues clients want to work on in therapy

Jeff Guenther on Mar 14, 2017 in Digital Practice

Ever wonder which issues get selected the most when clients are searching therapy directories to find their next counselor? Well, look no further. I run the most popular mental health directory in Portland, Oregon, and have ranked all 56 issues in order of most to least selected.


Disclaimer: This article is all about data that I have collected and tips on how to use that data to successfully market your therapy practice in the Bay Area. As a counselor, you should only treat issues that you are qualified to treat and not claim to treat issues that are popular and will attract more clients even though you don’t have the necessary education.

Knowing which issues are most often looked for lets you prioritize which issues to highlight in your directory profile and website. The more issues you treat that fall into the top ten, the more often your profile will show up in search results. However, keep in mind which terms are the most competitive. For instance, “Relationship/Marriage Issues” is the number one selected term when people are searching for a therapist. Even though you may treat that issue and consider it as a specialty, you could get buried under a massive heap of other therapists who also specialize in that issue. Which means, selecting “Relationship Issues” may not be the best strategy for attracting more visitors to your profile.

A better marketing strategy might be to find popular issues that are not as competitive and that you happen to specialize in. For example, “Divorce” comes in as the 18th most selected term (out of 56). That is relatively high on the list, but doesn’t show up in many therapist’s profiles as their specialty. Marketing your practice around Divorce, rather than Relationship Issues may be a better strategy because you're not competing against so many other therapists.

Popular online search terms for top issues

One thing that I have found in my online search research is that the top terms selected on a mental health directory are also popular terms that people are entering into Google. Therefore, creating content on your website and thoughtfully optimizing your webpages for these specific issues will let you show up more often in search results.

Keep in mind that online searchers enter keyword phrases that are informal and use more natural language. Aim to use the exact language that potential clients are using when they start their Google search.

Child and Adolescent Issues is the fourth most popular issue selected and searched for when looking for a therapist in a directory. Here are a few of the corresponding popular search queries that clients enter into search engines, like Google:

  • Counseling for kids

  • Teen counseling

  • Behavioral therapist

  • Child therapy toys

Those keywords should be naturally integrated into your content on a page of your site that goes into detail about treating children and teenagers with therapy. If you use the actual search terms that are being entered, you’ll have a much better chance of ranking high when someone performs that search.

If you download the list of 56 terms, I’ll provide you with the most popular search terms for the top 15 issues. 

The top ten issues selected

  1. Relationship/Marriage Issues

  2. Depression

  3. Anxiety

  4. Child or Adolescent Issues

  5. PTSD

  6. LGBTQ Issues

  7. Family Conflict

  8. Personal Growth

  9. Self Esteem

  10. Gender Identity

If you want to see all 56 issues, click here to view and download the full list


Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.

Recommended Articles