Deactivating Psychology Today & Moving Forward
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Psychology Today is a common referral site for finding a therapist. It does not vet clinicians other than to request license & liability information. As a huge source of referrals, I used to get at least 5-15 emails & phone calls each week from individuals seeking treatment. That despite a statement on my profile that says I was only accepting clients seeking gender affirming surgery evaluations. I still responded individually to each of these emails, because I know how hard it is to find a therapist who feels like a good fit, and even more difficult to find one who is trans competent, anti-racist, and socially aware.
Therefore, the decision to discontinue was a tough one due to worries that some folks might not be able to find me as easily, and also because I was still establishing my practice in a new state, in addition to continuing telehealth in my previous location. Regardless, this decision feels like the right one. And I need to stick with my values.
You may or may not be aware of some of the past issues with Psychology Today in terms of the way they sensationalize and sometimes minimize mental health, their very thin-white-cis-centric view of beauty in their magazine/articles, and questionable missing discussions about racism, anti-Blackness, & white supremacy.
The day I initially created this post, I found out about an article that was published about "vilifying Karens" that was removed after the Medium website posted a response piece - Perhaps coincidentally (or not), Psychology Today posted a new article the next day that spoke to white privilege, seemingly as if pretending it didn't happen would be a healing solution.
Update as of 8/4/20 - when I emailed to cancel my Psychology Today membership, this was the response: "We can assure you, the views expressed in the article are not our views but those of the author’s. We have subsequently removed the article and apologize for the hurt and frustration it may have caused."
I responded promptly to explain why that response is both unacceptable and dismissive, a common response of those who aren't actively doing anti-racist work and feel offended that they might be considered racist, focusing on distancing from the person who did harm, without taking responsibility for the larger problems in the company).
If I'm going to be part of the solution and continue to engage in anti-racist activism, seek to educate my friends/family/colleagues/clients etc. about why these issues are crucial, then I need to put my foot down when organizations are actively contributing to harmful ideas and use their power to amplify oppression.
I decided then to remove my Psychology Today profile and instead sought to list my practice on sites that were more intentional about doing anti-racist work, who seek therapists that are mindful of equity & inclusivity, as well as having cultural competence.
Are you open to considering a change, or hoping to market more toward marginalized communities?
Check out some of these general search site options (feel free to suggest additional sites, or provide feedback about any of the sites I've listed):
1) Inclusive Therapists: With seemingly perfect timing, I discovered a new therapist search site that requires an application for membership and has different tiers of involvement - they ask therapists to speak to their training, interest, and experience in creating an inclusive, anti-racist, and culturally competent referral service. It is reasonably priced (less than Psychology Today) and well worth the value, including free monthly trainings focused on decolonizing mental health. I am most excited about becoming a member here!!! (update 12/26/20 - this is still one of the best decisions I could have made!!! This community has been incredible!) @InclusiveTherapists
2) Open Path Collective: Free to list your practice - serves clients who don't have health insurance, whose insurance doesn't adequately cover mental health, or for clients who cannot afford high out of pocket. Asks clinicians to accept at least 1 sliding scale Open Path client for $30-60/session (with a $59 lifetime membership paid by client).
3) Therapy Den: There is a free directory called Therapy Den that purposely seeks to add culturally competent clinicians to serve marginalized populations - doesn't take too long to create & activate your profile, and they just ask for a suggested donation to support their mission.
4) Zencare: This site grew out of Providence, RI, is growing in popularity and offers a much more professional presence for your profile, though is definitely a bit more expensive (while still worth the value if you have a full-time practice). They go through a vetting process with clinicians who apply and ask detailed questions about the therapist’s approach to treatment to verify their stated expertise. Zencare has also published quite a few pieces in recent months around working toward anti-racism as well as providing gender affirming care.
You might also consider listing your practice on these sites:
a) If you're a BIPOC* therapist, Innopsych
b) For Black therapists: Therapy for Black Girls
- For Queer & Trans BIPOC therapists: NQTTCN
c) For queer/LGBTQ+ affirming clinicians: OutCare Health
-For trans competent clinicians who write surgery letters: The Galup Pledge (free to join) - asks clinicians to commit to 1 free evaluation/letter a month to reduce the felt gatekeeping for trans and nonbinary folx seeking gender affirming procedures.
f) For generalist clinicians:
- Social Workers - NASW Match Referral Service
- Providers who enjoy serving young adults - Thriving Campus (free to list your profile)
Since there are so many search options as well as the good ‘ole fashioned’ word-of-mouth, I will just hope that my reputation precedes me, work to create a professional network, and think creatively about ways that trans and gender nonbinary clients can find ways to connect to myself and other clinicians who are affirming and trans competent.
What’s the saying? Something about the road less traveled? As clinicians, I believe it is our responsibility to decolonize therapy while also focusing on restorative justice and shifting our care toward social liberation. Let’s take the less traveled path together!
Further Resources: UPDATED 12-26-20 - In addition to the resources mentioned above, please see below for recommendations related to antiracism, social justice, liberation, and/or decolonizing therapy content/focus. This includes resources such as the following:
Joy & Justice Collaborative [@joyandjusticecollab]
The Blacker the Brain (Thea Monyee´). [@TheBlackerTheBrain].
The melanated social work podcast. Hosted by Josh McNeil, Marvin Toliver, Michael Grinnell, & Jesse Wiltey
Shaping the shift. Podcast hosted by Thea Monyee´
Healing while Black podcast. Hosted by Quiana & Misty (last names unknown).
All my relations. Podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur & Adrienne Keene
Finding our way. Podcast with Prentis Hill.
Electronic print & audiovisual resources:
J Mase III. Platypus poem: Zone of rarity
Article from Dismantling Racism: White supremacy culture
General Websites & Social Media Accounts:
Nora Alwah. [@noraalwah].
Alfiee Breland-Noble: Couched in Color with Dr. Alfiee. [@dralfiee].
Sonny Jane: Lived Experience Studio[@LivedExperienceCounsellor].
Haley Jones. [@the_queer_counselor].
Black and Embodied. [@blackandembodied].
Melanated Social Work[@MelanatedSocialWork].
Resmaa Menakem. [@ResmaaMenakem]
Jennifer Mullan - Decolonizing Therapy. [@decolonizingtherapy]
Sonalee Rashatwar. [@TheFatSexTherapist].
Akilah Richards: Raising Free People. [@fareofthefreechild].
And a (no-shame, self-celebrating) plug for my personal page:
Additional recommendations & resources can be found in this (in progress) google doc.
*A note about choice of BIPOC language - The use of BIPOC sometimes represents Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (i.e., non-white people), and at other times it represents Black and Indigenous people of color primarily (Code Switch episode). When discussing BIPOC communities in this post, I am referring to the Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color who experience ongoing marginalization and oppression in relation to the colonized history of the Western world, including the intergenerational impact from their ancestors.