Table of contents
Share Post

The Importance of Your Therapist Headshot

As a therapist, your headshot is the initial impression that potential clients encounter—before reading your bio or reviewing your list of specialties. Maximizing word choice, structure, readability, and eloquence will optimize its impact, ensuring a captivating representation of your professional identity.

Your headshot can remarkably evoke feelings of trust and connection in others swiftly. This initial bond paves the way for them to explore more about you and commence the journey of becoming your esteemed client.

Your training, expertise, and specialties are crucial factors that potential clients consider when making decisions. However, those qualifications go unnoticed if they scroll past you because your headshot leaves a negative impression.

Consider this: would you feel comfortable opening up to a therapist who doesn’t even have a headshot? And what if their expression seems grumpy or the photo quality is subpar? These factors can significantly influence our perception and trust in a therapist.

Imagine yourself online shopping, scrolling through the search results on Amazon. Now, ask yourself, would you click on a product that has a blurry product photo?

Headshot Tips & The 4 Elements

An expensive professional photographer mustn’t take your headshot to be great. There are just four ingredients for the perfect headshot: 


In your photo, your face should be lit without harsh light or glare — especially if you wear glasses. You want your face to pop and the viewer to be naturally drawn into your face and eyes. Natural lighting from the sun is best because it feels soft, bright, and warm. Avoid direct sunlight because it creates shadows. Instead, look for softer light on an overcast day or during dawn and dusk when the sun is lower. Try wearing darker clothes to make your face stand out in a studio.

Eye Contact

In the therapy room, clear eye contact helps your clients feel listened to, understood, and seen. The same is true in your online profile. A photo with clear eye contact creates a personal and emotional connection with prospective clients, building a sense of trust in you as a clinician. To create intense eye contact in your photo:

  1. Make sure you are looking directly at the camera.
  2. Pretend there is a client on the other end of the camera lens.
  3. Look at the camera like a client in the room with you. If you have longer hair, ensure it is away from your eyes.
  4. If you wear makeup, try using subtle colors around your eyes that draw the viewer in. If you wear glasses, ensure no glare prevents people from seeing your eyes.


The background of your photo can either distract the viewer and make them feel overwhelmed, or it can emphasize you and your work. Backgrounds that often work well for therapists and counselors include:

 • Natural areas like trees and hedges

 • Outdoor areas that are open and bright

 • Office environments that feel professional and reflect your unique personality 

• Solid single-color surfaces like walls, brick, wood, or siding 

Backgrounds that you should avoid: 

• Cluttered indoor areas

• Personal spaces like a living room or bedroom 

• Windows that reflect glare 

• Studio backgrounds with a lot of reflection 

• Candid shots from bars, restaurants, or in your car 

Consider how you want your photo to zoom in when considering your background. You want your face to be the primary focus of the photo. Zoom in enough to see your eyes and a bit of your surroundings, but do not zoom in so much that the entire photo is your face. 


Your facial expression, clothes, and your pose create your presentation. These items can reinforce or hinder prospective clients’ sense of connection when they see you. More than any other element of your photo, your presentation should reinforce your niche by appealing to the specific types of clients you work with. 

Here are some examples of how you can align your presentation and your niche: 

• If you work primarily with stressed professionals, you may want to dress more formally with minimal jewelry and have a slightly serious facial expression. 

• If you work with adolescents or college students, you may choose the more casual dress with fun accessories and a big smile. 

• If you work with people who have experienced trauma, you may choose simple and calming clothes with a facial expression that feels soft, warm, and inviting. 

Put this all to use. It can be hard to evaluate your photo as you get overly focused on minor details and how you look rather than what you convey. The best way to determine if a photo works for a professional headshot is to sit down with a friend. 

You and your friend should discuss the four elements in this guide: 

• Lighting: can you see your face and eyes? Are there distracting shadows or glare? 

• Eye contact: can the viewer see into your eyes? What do your eyes convey? 

• Background: when you first look at the photo, do you look at your face and eyes or get pulled in a different direction? 

• Presentation: are your appearance, posture, and facial expressions relatable to the populations you work with? 

Hiring a photographer 

Who needs a professional photographer when you’ve got a friend or family member armed with this guide to help you capture stunning photos? But if finding the perfect lighting or retouching skills a challenge, hiring a pro is always an option. And remember, at Zen Studios, we’ve got your back for all your photography needs. Trust us to deliver the best therapist headshots! Call us today!

Mich Angela Pinili

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our free newsletter.

Related Articles