Headshot Photos for Counsellors and Therapists

Why should counsellors pay attention to having a good headshot photo?  Surely the most important thing is that you can listen well to clients?  Isn’t it a bit too much to have to think about photographs?

Why Bother with A headshot?

  • More and more people are accessing counselling profiles via their phones. There’s a very limited amount of information available on the front page of any search.  You want to maximise that window of opportunity as people scroll past.  The first thing that people will do is look at your photo.  If there isn’t one there, or it isn’t very good, they will scroll past before they have even read your name, let alone your blurb.
  • A photo makes you a real person and makes you less scary. People are going to be opening up to you about very personal things.  They want to find someone they can trust.
  • You’ll attract clients by showing them who you are. With a good headshot you can convey some of the qualities that are important to you.  For example, that you value people enough to spend time on communicating who you are.  That you’re approachable and trustworthy.

What is a Good Headshot for Counsellors?

A good headshot will convey both your professionalism and your personality.  You’ll want to show people that you are a safe pair of hands (professionalism), but also that they can talk to you (personality).

Here’s a rather cruel but helpful analogy:

Consider this, if you entered a restaurant and noticed that the cook didn’t have a hair net, has poor hygiene habits, and is dressed like a bum, would you eat there? (Giancarlo Pawelec)

So it’s important to consider the surroundings of your photo, your pose, and your clothing.  How do they represent you as a therapist?  Are they a good indication of whether you take your role seriously? What message is your headshot conveying to the client?

If you’re not sure, ask your friends and your professional colleagues to help you. 

The first headshot that I used in Counselling Directory was not my first choice.  I liked the shot of me looking thoughtful as I gazed away from the camera.

The overwhelming vote from a range of alternatives was the one where I’m looking directly at the camera and smiling.  My friends gave me feedback that this represented me well. I’m glad I followed their advice as it brought me many clients over the years.

So many clients told me “you looked like someone I could talk to”.

Six Tips to Get a Good Headshot

  1. Background: A plain background will not distract people.  You want them to look at you.
  2. Lighting: Your face should be well lit and without shadows either on your face or from your head against the wall.
  3. Pose: What does it say about you?  A ¼ turn from the camera can give the impression of openness more than directly facing the camera “passport booth” style.
  4. Clothing: Is this what you would wear when you are counselling?
  5. Hair and makeup: Both can either enhance or distract from your image.
  6. Personality: What do you want to convey?  A smile will make you more approachable.

Good Therapy have a helpful infographic for taking a good photshot here

If it all feels overwhelming, why not get some support?  I offer one to one business mentoring and low cost group coaching to help counsellors set up and grow their business. Get in touch.

Help for counsellors for headshot photo

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

That Sounds Complicated.  Do I Need Professional Help?

There’s no doubt that a professional photographer will help you to achieve a better shot than a selfie on your phone.  Even if you know someone with a good camera, lighting and background can be problematic.

A good headshot is part of your shop window.  It shows clients who you are as a person and it shows them that you’re running a business.  It conveys the fact that you are established and professional.

It’s an investment in your private practice.

They say a picture says a thousand words and Laura Long illustrates the difference between a selfie and a professional shot in this blog on therapist headshots.

If you’re concerned about the expense, there are a couple of other options.  One is that if you’re connected to a business group, you can share the expense of a full photoshoot by having a short session where the photographer gives you and your colleagues a 15-30 minute slot each. It brings down the cost.

Another option is to do it yourself.

If you want to DIY, you will need some help, and you will need some time.  It can easily take a couple of hours to get an acceptable shot where all the elements of background, lighting, focus, pose and facial expression come together.

Fear of Visibility

Some people just do not like being photographed and do not want to be visible. 

That’s fair enough, but ask yourself, which is worse?

  • A photograph
  • Or no clients?

Consider two things:

  1. The joy and sense of fulfilment you feel when you are able to help people
  2. The difference that your help will make to people’s lives. Isn’t it kind of selfish to deny people the opportunity to connect with a counsellor who can help them?


Making decisions about your business can feel scary especially if you’re trying to do it on your own.

That’s where I can help.  I offer counsellors one to one business mentoring or low cost group coaching to help them set up and grow their private practice.

Contact me to find out more.