Niche Markets for Mental Health Practitioners

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In the year 2000 a music executive named Chris Anderson wrote an e-paper that left a powerful impression on the music industry.  Today, it offers anyone willing to listen important insights into the new economy and the opportunities that are available.

In the past the music industry was dominated by what Chris referred to as, “Hit driven, watered down and average product economics”.  This model existed because stores couldn’t possibly offer everything for everybody.  This is the world of SCARCITY that existed many year ago.  Those with the most money, power and reach were typically the one’s who prospered.

However, the rise of the online world and a seismic shift in how people communicate and share information has “created a world of abundance and the differences are profound”.

In today’s world people are looking harder in an effort to find what they truly want.  This means what is most popular or most visible no longer holds the same amount of leverage as it has in the past.  The result is what Chris refers to as The Long Tail, meaning niche products and specialty services are now on equal footing as mainstream services if they are positioned correctly.

The figure below offers you a visual guide of The Long Tail concept.


When given access and choices to services people are inevitably drawn to quality, value, relationships, openness and uniqueness.  Focus on these attributes, leverage communication vehicles that break down geographic barriers (e.g., The Internet), and you increase your chances of success and prosperity significantly.  And no matter what your mental health specialty, the Long Tail reveals that there is a market out there waiting to be served.

Let me explain further with a more obvious example.  Most of us believe large stores like Walmart offer an unlimited selection of products.  This, however, could not be further from the truth.  In order to cover overhead costs Walmart stores are limited to carrying inventory only for those products that they know will be big sellers.  If we use the music industry as an example this means a store like Walmart carries less than one percent (1%) of the music that exists in the marketplace.  However, an interesting thing happens when we look at songs and/or artists that don’t fall in this one percent category.  Below that “top seller” line, brick and mortar outfits like Walmart earn zero profit because they simply don’t carry those songs.

Contrast that with an online company such as Amazon or ITunes.  They offer unlimited choices and the results are astounding.  Artists and songs that would never have found a market in the past end up selling as often or more often than the top sellers.  This generates huge profits for these two businesses.

There are thousands of stories of individuals who found their niche and identified ways to reach out to those who wanted to listen.  The result being that psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical counselors, school counselors, social workers and everyone else in the mental health profession can tap into this phenomenon and find their own special place in the field.

P.S.  If you would like to learn more about the Long Tail concept click on this link to view Chris Anderson’s book.
The Long Tail



  1. George Anderson  September 19, 2009

    This is my fist introduction to the Long Tail concept. However, I have managed to dominate in two overlooked niches in mental health. One is anger management and the second is executive coaching for “disruptive physicians”.
    Most mental health counselors are stuck attempting to support themselves from the crumbs of Managed Health Care.

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