In 2019, if you don’t text or make a video call to your therapist, you’re probably sending him a private message. The shame of psychotherapy has not completely disappeared, but the good phenomenon is that more and more people think it is possible to seek psychological help.
In the past few years, there have been several startups on the market trying to connect people who are less sensitive to psychotherapy to mental health services. Now, according to the National Council for behavioral health, more than half of people want to see a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, but they can’t. People’s pursuit of mental health accessibility has led to the rise of digital therapeutic applications, such as talkspace, moodnotes, Clementine and Maven clinic, which allow you to get help from a teletherapist.
But there are some clinicians who don’t want to rely entirely on the Internet. In fact, psychologists seem to take a spontaneous negative attitude towards this service, because in their view, video conversation may damage the therapist’s enthusiasm, sensitivity, empathy and understanding. But telemedicine is so overwhelming that some startups are trying to promote some more authentic medical experiences.
Two chairs, a mental health retail brand, is trying to subvert the way people see a psychotherapist, using a technology to match patients with clinicians. The start-up has five clinics in San Francisco and a new one in San Jose. Recently, it received $21 million in financing from investors. Another company, Alma, received $8 million in financing in July to provide a common workplace for psychotherapists. There are other startups: kip, which combines offline and online forms of treatment; Octave, which matches clients to clinicians and psychologists.
Part of the popularity of mental health apps is that anyone can use them with a reliable internet connection, and they are often much cheaper than traditional psychotherapy. For example, talkspace offers paid treatment programs that range from $65 to $99 a week. Studies have shown that video chats with therapists are as effective as those with therapists in the same room. Nevertheless, critics are concerned that therapists have not been well trained, do not know how to conduct telemedicine, and do not know how to deal with emergencies from a distance.
There are also some practitioners who prefer face-to-face work. They believe that face-to-face talks are the best way to cultivate the best patient therapist alliance and the best way to bring good results. “We find that relationships are best formed face to face, but the biggest barrier to meeting is often price,” said Alex Katz, CEO of two chairs
Traditional indoor psychotherapy costs between $150 and $400 at a time. Two chairs and Kip charge $180 each time, and two chairs also provides their patients with insurance claims and group treatment of $50 each. Octave charges a minimum of $180 each time, but up to $300. For Alma platform, employees set their own prices, some of which fluctuate proportionally.
All of these start-ups have newly decorated treatment rooms with mid century furniture and walls in soothing earthy and gemstone tones. In addition to beautifying the appearance of the treatment room, they also want to improve the existing medical services. Different brands have different priorities, but they all agree that it is most important to find qualified and high-quality psychotherapists.
Two chairs has developed a series of matching techniques to solve the thorny problem of how to find the right psychotherapist. Normally, you have to go through a daunting process, asking your friends for advice or Google the list of online therapists provided by insurance companies. Then, you have to experience them personally, and if they are not suitable, you need to start searching again. Two chairs aims to skip this process of trial and error.