Simone Saunders, the founder of The Cognitive Corner, is a therapist who has successfully ventured into social media, making a significant impact on the mental health and wellness of people around the world. Merging authenticity with credibility, she’s emerged as a trailblazer in the field, redefining the way we approach mental health and wellbeing in the digital age.
On TikTok and Instagram, Simone has developed a platform offering valuable insights into the field of therapy. Through TikTok in particular, Simone offers her audience tools to heal from their trauma and live their best lives, including somatic coping tools, helpful how-to videos — like how to deal with shame and other unpleasant emotions — and explanations of various therapy terms and concepts. Beyond just content, Simone also supports her community with live virtual therapy workshops, and has even written an ebook geared at helping her followers understand their trauma.
We sat down with Simone to talk about the advantages of digital resources in therapy and combating stigma through social media, as well as her monetization strategies and her digital product offering.
You recently wrote your own ebook, Cultivating Connection. What motivated you to create this digital product?
Attachment and relationships have been an ongoing topic of conversation in the mental health field. The Cultivating Connection ebook was an add-on to a workshop that I facilitated in February. I created it to be cohesive enough to stand alone, while also being a helpful addition to that workshop.
Within the realm of mental health, how do you envision ebooks and other digital products as valuable resources for individuals seeking support? What advantages do they offer compared to traditional therapy sessions?
Ebooks and other digital products can be especially helpful for folks who aren’t able to access therapy due financial restrictions. Self-help resources allow the individual to access coping tools and psychoeducation at an affordable rate, and implement the strategies at their own pace.
Can you tell us about your Patreon memberships? What unique benefits do you offer to your patrons?
Currently, the structure of my Patreon allows me to interact more with subscribers and prioritize questions or content requests. My content on Patreon consists of extended versions of my TikTok and Instagram videos, monthly Q&As, and Patreon-exclusive video series.
Related: What is Patreon?
As the managing director of The Cognitive Corner, how do you balance the financial aspects of monetizing your digital products with the mission of providing accessible mental health resources?
Providing accessible mental health resources is a priority for The Cognitive Corner, which is why we have a tiered system. Having a tiered system allows folks at any socioeconomic status to find an accessible resource.
Our social media channels provide free tools and psychoeducation on a daily basis. Our ebooks are monetized and priced to be affordable, yet reflective of the time and effort of creation. Next, we offer virtual workshops which are higher in price, but a one-time fee. And finally, [we offer] ongoing therapy for a standard rate.
One of the challenges in the mental health field is the stigma surrounding therapy and seeking help. How do you leverage social media to combat this stigma and make educational resources more accessible to a wider audience?
Personally, I enjoy discussing mental health at a broad scale, but I’m also not afraid to discuss when I have challenging mental health days, because it’s important to also see that therapists experience challenges as well. The more that we see and talk about mental health, the more destigmatized it becomes and, thus, the more likely other folks are willing to address mental health challenges.
Many therapists and mental health professionals are using social media platforms to reach a broader audience. In your experience, what strategies have been most effective?
In my experience, integrating your authentic personality into social media content allows folks who align with your personality and therapeutic style to gravitate towards you.
How do you ensure that your digital products and educational resources stand out and provide unique value to your audience?
Part of the brand is taking complicated clinical concepts and translating them into easy-to-understand and digestible information. This is what helps us stand out and provide value to our community.
What advice would you give therapists or mental health professionals who are interested in leveraging social media to create and sell their own digital products?
I think the best thing that you can do, first and foremost, is to cultivate a community. Once you have a community, it’ll be easier to gauge what offering you can provide that is valuable to the community and in line with what you want to create.
How do you maintain a sense of authenticity and credibility while marketing and monetizing your digital products? What steps do you take to ensure that your audience trusts your expertise and the value you provide?
I make my credentials quite clear by linking my website to my social media platforms. Having professional information accessible allows for openness and authenticity, while also maintaining an ethical standard.
Social media platforms can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to discussing sensitive topics. How do you handle potential challenges and negative feedback while promoting mental health and therapy on social media?
Thankfully, I haven’t dealt with much backlash, but there are often differential opinions on social media. Recognizing that the nature of being on the internet may, at times, mean that folks disagree with your opinion or dislike what you have to say is integral to preparing to have an online presence.
Looking ahead, what innovations or trends do you see shaping the future of therapy, mental health resources, and digital monetization in your field? How do you plan to adapt to these changes?
In the future, I definitely see more and more professionals navigating to obtaining a digital presence and subsequently offering digital resources. As a business, we plan to continue to update our offerings to ensure they meet the needs of the community and align with our values.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Photo: Courtesy of Simone Saunders