Online Therapists - OMG, IDK, FML


There's no shortage of new, slick apps offering cheap therapy with therapists seemingly accessible at any time of day (or night). But remember those nail salons in New York a few years ago that weren't paying their nail techs a livable wage and some of them were trapped in this sort of indentured servitude? Imagine that, but with therapists.  

These apps, which I won't name here, but all of which have slick iphoney sounding names promise a decent financial payoff for therapists.  The catch? The time requirements are excessive, the payoff for clients is questionable, and the upsells and reviews pushed by these apps teeters on unethical.  (And unfortunately one of them has a domain name very much like ours. womp womp)

To be a therapist, you have to have been accepted into a masters program, complete that masters program, hopefully having had therapy yourself, as well as do supervised clinical work with clients. You continue that clinical work under supervision for anywhere from 2-5 years, take a licensure exam, and possibly become licensed.  Once licensed, you can then strike out on your own in your very own private practice. These apps do not do justice for people with this very specialized education, experience and training- and though it might feel good to rant to a therapist via text at 4am, it may or may not actually help you GET better in the long run, and it may or may not be keeping a good therapist from doing good clinical work and get paid what they are worth. You pay your plumber, you pay your mechanic- you might get health insurance to pay for some of your medical bills- fair enough - but therapists are people who do difficult, specialized work - for your mental well-being.  It's probably good to pay them what they are worth, too.

Find a therapist you like, work out a sliding scale with them, and see if you can make real, lasting changes through having real, human interactions. At the VERY least do a video session - but at some point- you've got to put the phone down. And therapists- when you take pennies on the dollar for your work that requires extensive post-graduate education, experience and in-vivo training, you're kind of diluting the whole field.  Don't fall for it.




Michael is a human therapist at MyTherapist New York