Help My Wife Name Her Counseling Firm
February 20, 2010 7:07 AM   Subscribe

My wife is a psychotherapist with her LCSW. She is starting a new practice with another person here in Waco, Texas. She is a perfectionist when it comes to small details - for instance, she easily spent 100 hours designing her business cards, and obsessed over getting the exact shade of green right. She is now doing the same with naming her new firm, and we could use some help in coming up with a name. The name needs to convey a certain feeling, and that's where we're both getting stuck. I was hoping AskMeFi could help.

The kind of work she'll be doing is a mixture of spiritual direction for both religious and non-religious types, individual therapy, and couple therapy. She does not want to turn away non-religious types, and so does not want therefore to have a name that is explicitly religious. It also needs to not be explicitly spiritual (ie, not New Agey sounding) for the same reason.

It also should be a name that maybe conveys a feeling, preferably a feeling of hope, optimism, and a belief that change can happen in a person's life that is meaningful and relevant.

A lot of the names we thought of had to do with nature. The kind of picture we had in mind was maybe a ray of light coming from behind a cloud. But anytime we actually try to name it as such, it sounds extremely stupid or heavy-handed or both. But my wife is interested in something that suggests that something soft, caring, but clinical and professional, and hope.

So, for instance, there is a local church here with the name Dayspring that we both really like as a name, but we can't use that name. Both the words "day" and "spring" kind of fit what she's going for - day being a more positive word than, say, night, and spring being something life-giving, flowing, purifying, etc. Yet, because it's called Dayspring, it's also just a simple word. It's not spiritual or religious, in other words, but could accomodate a range of feeling or perspectives of someone seeking help. It's also something easy to say - dayspring. Two syllables. Falls right off the tongue.

We've both his a creative brick wall in terms of coming up with names, and it may be because we just have gone through so many names, and because we have something so unique in mind that we just can't think of it. I was thinking it could be crowdsourced, and that the AskMeFi community might actually have some really good ideas. We're just looking for more ideas at this point.
posted by scunning to Work & Money (41 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think the word "retreat" has the right balance. Not sure what adjective that would go well with it though.
posted by bigmusic at 7:35 AM on February 20, 2010

posted by ian1977 at 7:36 AM on February 20, 2010

with bigmusic...

Sunburst Retreat
posted by ian1977 at 7:37 AM on February 20, 2010

Rising Tide? Perhaps too oceanic for a landlocked city, but there is that saying "a rising tide lifts all boats."
posted by scratch at 7:38 AM on February 20, 2010

I like "hope," "serene" or "serenity" and "morning" (or things that imply morning, like "dawn").
posted by bunnycup at 7:42 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Step Wise
posted by troybob at 7:42 AM on February 20, 2010

New Hope
posted by lakerk at 7:44 AM on February 20, 2010

I like "hope," "serene" or "serenity" and "morning" (or things that imply morning, like "dawn").
I like dawn and morning. The nature words seem to be a really natural fit. Nature has a lot of hope in it already - the seasons, the inevitability of suffering and death, the rebirth amidst that, etc. What works with the nature words is that if you find the right word, you don't have to actually communicate anything additional. So morning and dawn are good - they both convey something new. Starting over. Each day is a new day, and the morning is the beginning. And that's exactly the point she's going for in the word - something that is not heavy-handed, not preachy, but encompasses a person seeking help for all kinds of reasons, and needing to be hopeful about that search.
posted by scunning at 7:51 AM on February 20, 2010

I like the idea of making one word out of two simple ones -- Morninglight, or Newhope, or Newdawn. Oh, and:

Yet, because it's called Dayspring, it's also just a simple word. It's not spiritual or religious, in other words, but could accomodate a range of feeling or perspectives of someone seeking help.

This does happen to be a Christian-identified word/phrase, deriving from the King James translation of a Bible verse: "Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us." (Luke 1:78).

Just as a suggestion that you might want to google any name you come up with, to see if it's going to have connotations you weren't aware of.
posted by palliser at 7:55 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think there's something to be had here using "Well," because it plays on both a feeling of wellness and a well of water, and has Biblical ties:

The Well
Hope Well
New Well

Non-Well Possibilities:

Bright Stream
New Morning
posted by sallybrown at 7:59 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Inner Dawn
posted by troybob at 8:01 AM on February 20, 2010

Going off what others have said, Wellpsring Counseling?
posted by zizzle at 8:01 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Arrgh to the typo!

That should be Wellspring.
posted by zizzle at 8:02 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

A well. I hadn't thought of that. The water idea is good. The wellness, the water. The water is deep with a well, and may not even be known to exist til you find it. That's very good. Well seems better than oasis, too, only b/c oasis might be too much - it's one of those words that she's trying not to go for because it's *too* associated with the underlying clinical/spiritual reality. But well is good.

These are all great, and very helpful.
posted by scunning at 8:03 AM on February 20, 2010

New Horizons (I think that's taken... it sounds familiar)

And I second googling whatever you come up with.
posted by kestrel251 at 8:04 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

To palliser's idea - I like this idea two words, too. Well on its own may not be enough, but combined with something could work.

I didn't realize that dayspring had that KJV association. That's really interesting. Thanks for the reference. She may have known that, but I hadn't thought about it. Dayspring is a local church we both are fond of, and I had just grown accustomed to thinking of it as the church, and an overall feeling about the name. I thought maybe it was a flower! :)
posted by scunning at 8:05 AM on February 20, 2010

Not a suggestion, but an observation: a number of these sound very much like they would be the names of (drug) rehab places to me -- too much emphasis on "new" and "hope," I think, is especially likely to produce that effect.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:11 AM on February 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

yeah, i think 'insight' is a bit better direction than 'hope'
posted by troybob at 8:13 AM on February 20, 2010

posted by Rumple at 8:16 AM on February 20, 2010

Esalen Dixie.
posted by rr at 8:21 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to say the same thing as redfoxtail.
posted by HotToddy at 8:22 AM on February 20, 2010

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:23 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wise and Shine

...'cept it makes me think of wabbits...
posted by troybob at 8:32 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Waco Psychotherapy would have been my choice, but I guess your wife has other ideas. We can probably forget Whole in the Head, then, too, right? How about...
One River
One Star
First Valley
Original Path
Life Raft
Life Boat
posted by pracowity at 8:41 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

New Day
Tree of Life
New Season
Blue Sky
posted by marimeko at 8:45 AM on February 20, 2010

Compass Counseling

I like Wellspring too but it also has the connotation of the pre-Whole Foods company.
posted by barnone at 8:48 AM on February 20, 2010

Silverlining (or just Silverline)
posted by Rumple at 8:52 AM on February 20, 2010

Man, half of these (at least) are already the names of megachurches *and* drug rehab centers. Just google "new life" or "new hope" or "new day" and see what I mean. I know you're in Waco, and I've spent a lot of time in Waco, but if you are specifically interested in attracting the *non*-religious clientele you mention, I'd stay away from all this imagery. I for one would assume a counseling practice named "Wellspring" or "Dayspring" was either Christian or New Age just from the name (or both, a truly egregious confluence). And I would steer well clear. (And as I am sure you know, some of the religious folks will think any new-agey connotations are demonic.)

I think you want something much more abstract if you must have an imagistic name at all. Or something that stresses social reintegration, the real goal of therapy in most cases, maybe using images of balance, parts and wholes, or organic growth.

(Also, 100 hours on a business card? At the rate a therapist usually bills, she'll need to make back tens of thousands of dollars to justify that investment. Image is important in a crowded market, of course, but how important compared to other things worth that level of investment? You can hire people who do this stuff for a living for less and get better results.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:54 AM on February 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

I would be much more comfortable seeing a practitioner whose business was called [lastname1] & [lastname2] rather than Dayspring Newhope or whatever. I may not be your target demographic, but you should be concerned that these types of names have a connotation of bottom-of-their-class therapists.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:02 AM on February 20, 2010 [7 favorites]

I'm from the midwest and anything around here with the words "sun" or "dawn" are implicitly referring to being saved by Jesus Christ or referring to Jesus Christ.

For example:

"New Beginnings Coffee House" -- may or may not be Christian
"New Beginnings Coffee House" with a sign that has a picture of a rising sun on it -- is definitely Christian.
posted by 517 at 9:03 AM on February 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Actually, on second thought, I think I'm with Optimus Chyme on this -- if she wants to denote their specialties in more detail, maybe "The lastname1 lastname2 Center for ..." and then a two- or three-word phrase that describes "spiritual direction for both religious and non-religious types, individual therapy, and couple therapy." There's something a bit subclinical about the other kinds of names, and as a complete layperson I'd wonder whether it was mainstream therapy or some kind of out-there program.
posted by palliser at 9:15 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I were looking for help, I would either go to [First and Last Name] or, if I had to pick another of the above suggestions, "Compass Counseling" (which, though abstract, is the most practical-sounding of the abstract ones).

When you're lost in the night, a Dawn or a Spring or what have you sounds nice, but those are end products of your metaphorical night-stumblings. How are you supposed to reach that Dawn? There's no plan, there's no path, just a suggested goal, and that doesn't actually give me hope. As a therapist, you might believe in your own Dawn-delivering efficacy, but as lost-in-the-night kind of guy, I'm skeptical. Every step in the journey to recovery is going to be tough, and these Dawn-y names don't recognize or acknowledge that, and that gloss makes them sound naive.

A Compass, on the other hand, is a tool that will help you get there. Here's something I can use. Here's a name that acknowledges the intermediate steps required to actually accomplish something. Here's something that will help me find an actual workable path out of this shitty night- that is what gives me hope!
posted by Jpfed at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Using her name in the name of the practice is also an extra level of advertising that's essentially free. In the private practice world, networking and being known is SO important, and colleagues and clients would see her name and recognize it and be able to access her contact info without much trouble, rather than "oh I think I heard she's at the uhhhh newspringdaysomething...? I googled it but all I got were 5000 churches."
posted by so_gracefully at 9:37 AM on February 20, 2010

The asker is looking for a particular type of name.
posted by pracowity at 9:53 AM on February 20, 2010

There is a town a little northeast of Waco called, eponysterically, Mount Calm. And Waco originally developed around an important bridge over the Brazos River, so something like Brazos Transformation Center might have place appeal. A Hueca Indian village on the site of present day Waco was early reported to have a "have a spring almost as cold as ice itself", and to the northwest is the town of China Spring, another geographical name marker with a water connotation.

So, perhaps:

Mount Calm Reflections
Brazos Retreat and Transformation Center
Brazos New Bridges Sanctuary
Brazos Balm (evocative of the old hymn "There is a Balm in Gilead" and other KJV references to healing in Jeremiah 8)
Hueca Havens
Brazos Refuge
Hueca Cold Spring Sanctum
China Spring Self-Discovery Workshop
posted by paulsc at 9:55 AM on February 20, 2010

All of these are great. First, I think my wife will kill me if I show her this since I say she spent 100 hours on her card, and I now think it was considerably less. 100 hours in scunning-speak means "way too many hours".

I think everyone who pointed out the downside of this imagery-angle is right. If it's not done right, it is worse than something much more straightforward, like [lastname1] and [lastname2]. I think it's because of that possibility that this is turning out a lot more bad ideas for us (when we talked it through) than good ideas.

The other idea, that paulsc brings up, was another idea we had - focus on geography. Thanks everyone for their help. I look forward to putting it all together for her tonight. We have a doubledate and so I'll print this out for the four of us to think about. What she's looking for is really a knife-edge condition kind of thing - something that has a non-religious, non-spiritual but vaguely optimistic imagery connotation that fits her overall aesthetic taste. She doesn't want it to be a megachurch or a drug rehab center (churches, at least, are everywhere in Waco) sounding name, like several noted. Those are good cautionary suggestions, actually. I don't think she or I had actually explicitly thought about what the specific "danger zone" was if you went into these kinds of names; we just knew intuitively something had the wrong connotation.

My personal preference, fwiw, has been the straightcorward [lastname1] and [lastname2] with a subtitle that noted "Spiritual Direction" which is what her current business card says. I think that as this is a business enterprise for her, and because she is creatively obsessive over the details, she is very excited about it in general (understandably) but also cannot not spend time thinking about the perfect name.

I also like Waco Psychotherapy.
posted by scunning at 10:24 AM on February 20, 2010

How about combining nature and geography by using the name of an indigenous tree or wildflower? Example: Cottonwood Counseling and Therapy; Redbud Psychotherapy, etc.
posted by Snerd at 12:58 PM on February 20, 2010

Aurora Well
(Wellness, Welling, etc.)
posted by carsonb at 2:08 PM on February 20, 2010

Due to some of the headlines that were generated in that town, I would stay away from anything that had "Waco" and "Psycho" too close together. Also, if she intends to stick around for very long, names that are spot-on right now may seem a little "new-agey" in ten years or so. I too would stick with Lastname1 and Lastname2 with a subtitle. My subtitle would be "Exploring Your Inner Self."
posted by Old Geezer at 2:22 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Old Geezer: maybe not so much with the Waco thing. For people who live there, it's just Waco. Not, "Waco, OMG wasn't that awful." Just like it's just Hollywood to people who live there. Not "Hollywood, Bright Lights and Movie Stars."
posted by SLC Mom at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by stubborn at 6:56 AM on February 21, 2010

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