Please fill out the form at the end with your thoughts.
The most confusing part of the Geek Therapy trademark situation is that Dr. Anthony Bean also filed a trademark for “Geek Therapist,” something that seems to have offended a lot of people. He explained in a post on Facebook that he is trademarking “Geek Therapy” to ensure “that it is available for use by all qualified, licensed therapists.”
Dr. Bean’s trademark filing for “Geek Therapist” currently states: “The certification mark, as used or intended to be used by persons authorized by the certifier, certifies or is intended to certify that the services are/will be provided by a person who has completed and satisfied the educational requirements of a formal training program in psychological techniques and knowledge to improve mental health of others.” The certifier, we assume, is Dr. Bean or the organization he is developing.
This definition seems to imply that a Geek Therapist can only be a mental health professional. For years, I’ve spoken about how other professionals relate to the idea of integrating Geek culture into their work. That includes different types of therapists: Drama therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, massage therapists, and so on. They are all therapists. The mental health field does not own the term “therapist.”
On the Geek Therapy merch store, the top-selling design says, “Hi! I’m a Geek Therapist” and I made it because “Geek Therapist” has been an identity that many in the Geek Therapy Community are proud of. I kept hearing that people wanted a way to tell the world that they were Geeks, they were therapists, and they were proud to find a term they could identify with.
Dr. Bean’s definition of “Geek Therapist” limits the use of the term to only people approved by the “certifier” and excludes anyone who doesn’t work in mental health.
I have no issues with some sort of certification in integrating Geek culture into therapeutic practice, even one specifically focused on mental health therapy. I would have pursued a certification like that years ago! But my opinion is that making it a “Geek Therapist” certification ignores all of us who have identified as Geek Therapists for years, in different professions.
Professional certification is one way to lend credibility and visibility to a professional identity, but taking that identity away from a group of people to then redefine it, prohibit some of us from declaring it, and possibly charge us a fee to use it again… It seems like a decision created in a vacuum without the input of the diverse group of people it affects.
There are many options for naming a certification without taking something away.
We’ve heard from many people about this part of the trademark situation in particular, and we want to hear from more of you. My opinions are based on eight years of talking to hundreds of people about it, but I’m sure there are many I haven’t heard from.
The Geek Therapy trademark specifically concerns the Geek Therapy brand, but the Geek Therapist trademark affects the identity of many, many people. We think all of us should fight together to preserve that identity.
Please fill out this form and let us know what you think and what you’d like to see happen with the Geek Therapist trademark. This isn’t our fight alone.
‐ Josué Cardona