Psychotherapist excels at social media

I e-met Dr. Susan Giurleo during a recent #hcsm session [healthcare communication and social media tweet chats held weekly and archived here]. I was impressed to learn that she was using social media to educate the public on mental health issues and on e-chatting with her, I discovered that she is a highly regarded licensed psychologist who works with kids and families living with ADHD and autism. Her blog is both a marketing vehicle for her practice and – more importantly from a public service perspective – a valuable parenting resource for families and the public at large.

Below are her insightful responses to my questions.

Which social media tools are you using?
I use primarily a blog and twitter.

What is your audience – patients, public at large?
Public at large, some of whom become clients

What strategy do you have in place? Do social media complement your other communication efforts?
Social media is my primary marketing approach. It is cost effective, easy to implement and has immediate turn around.

What policy do you have in place? What type of info do you disseminate? What commitment do you make re: responding to your audience comments
I share research findings, mental health tips (targeted to my specialty) and useful information on where people can go to learn more about a certain topic. I respond to most comments on my blog. I get emails as well and respond to those, even if it is just a quick, “thanks for your comment.”

How do you know what is working?
I measure informally (but all this can be easily measured via Google Analytics, if you use a blog). When I am consistent with sharing this information, my practice is booming. I also get emails from all over the world regarding my blog and newsletters. And this is dedicating 1 hr a week to it! The power of social media is amazing. If I did any more than what I currently do, I’d be swamped in my practice.

What time and staff resources are you spending on this?
The staff is me :-). I might dedicate 1-2 hrs a week on this. Like I said, the turnaround is fast and you don’t need to search too far to find relevant topics of interest.

How have you addressed privacy concerns and any other risks?
I don’t see any privacy concerns. Some people do email me with their specific concerns but I just email them back asking they call or if they live too far for me to help them, give them resources in their area. I never share any patient information, not even in ‘story’ form (i.e. “I have a client who…..”)
People intuitively seem to know that I can’t help them online if they are suicidal (never had any email contact regarding that issue) or in danger. I do put disclaimers on things like: “This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a therapeutic relationship or advice. If you feel you require more specific, personal support please contact…..”

Any concerns re: alienating those not yet in the social media space?
No. I feel people need to get on board. That is my bias, of course. In a few years it will be very difficult to find this information off line. With the slow death of newspapers and magazines and the fast growth of smart phones and tablet computers, we need to help people get online, not enable them to be passive and wait for the information to come to them. #hcsm is a great forum to explore all that. I think adding networked computers to medical waiting rooms should be the next wave in client support.

What I learned from Susan:
  • Social media works: Susan revealed that her social media strategy is so successful that her practice can hardly keep up with the demand for her services. A social media strategy can be cost-effective, providing immediate results – very attractive indeed.
  • Social media is very versatile: Susan is using social media to reach two audiences: a) educate the public about mental health at and b) consult with health care professionals on how to develop ethical online business and marketing strategies at
  • Whatever resources you have are adequate: As the sole staff resource, she spends minimal time on social media activities and yet has remarkable success with an enviable ROI.  Her secret is creating high value content.
  • Social media can be used responsibly: Rather than shying away from social media altogether due to privacy concerns, Susan has created a sensible framework for using the tools to educate the public and recruit patients. She uses disclaimers and has set her own ethical standards – such as communicating with patients using appropriate channels and never sharing patient stories.

Dr. Susan Giurleo is a licensed psychologist who consults with health care professionals on how to develop ethical online business and marketing strategies. You can learn more by stopping by her blog,

Explore posts in the same categories: E-health, health professionals, Social media

4 Comments on “Psychotherapist excels at social media”

  1. Dean Says:

    Well done Sheba.

    I find interviewing clinicians to be a great way for blog readers to engage with new material.


    • shebamuturi Says:

      Dean, thank you so much for your kind thoughts. It’s true that rich insights arise from talking to health professionals about how they are actually using these tools. While others agonize about HIPAA, Susan’s approach is as practical as it is successful.

  2. Great interview! There is so much benefit in social media: from marketing to fast access to information for professionals and lay people.
    I might think about interviewing for my blog as well actually, it is a good way to raise awareness and to bring knowledge of people who are not active online onto the internet.

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