Jeff Guenther on May 28, 2018
Let’s get the super obvious thing out of the way at the top. Psychology Today has the largest therapist directory in the world. I don’t think anyone would argue that. And because of how large they are, they are able to attract the most online visitors when compared to all other directory sites.
I know that the main goal of signing up for a therapist directory is to get as many clients as possible. TherapyDen just can’t compete in that arena. At least not yet. And that’s a big deal. But TherapyDen is brand new. So for the purposes of this article, let’s set that aside and look at the functionality and the client’s user experience to see how each site compares.
Homepages are not as important as they were ten years ago. These days, the majority of website visitors enter a website from a page other than the homepage. However, it still acts as the anchor of the website and there needs to be a clear and quick understanding of what the site offers when someone lands on the page.
The Psychology Today homepage is pretty basic. It’s as simple as it gets. And there’s something to be said about that. It’s not exactly a bad thing. The only thing you can do is search for a therapist by location by entering your zip or city. The ease of use ushers you directly onto their search page.
TherapyDen’s homepage has more options. You can search by location, just like on Psychology Today, but you can also search by the issue you’d like to address and the insurance you’re planning to use. With more and more people looking to use their insurance for mental health care, this makes it easy to automatically weed out any therapists that are not even an option for you.
TherapyDen’s homepage also offers a look at some featured therapists and presents you with a bit more about what TherapyDen is. Which is a nice touch since it’s not as well-known as Psychology Today. Not included in the video above are the icons that TherapyDen uses for the different services, individual therapy, couples counseling, etc. The TherapyDen logo features a lamp. The icons play off the lamp logo and show one lamp for individual therapy, two lamps for couples counseling and so on. It makes sense that the lamps match the main logo. But the main purpose behind them was to create gender neutral icons, which helps TherapyDen stay on message about being inclusive.
The most important part of any therapist directory is the search page. Potential clients need an easy way to find a therapist that’s a good match. If the search function doesn’t perform well, then clients could possibly get too overwhelmed and give up on finding a therapist all together.
Well, it’s not the best looking search page but it does get the job done. Sorta. The therapists are listed in the middle of the page with their photo and a couple sentences from their profile text. Their “phone number” is listed on the right, along with an email contact button. I put “phone number” in quotes because Psychology Today assigns you a number that is not your real phone number. They say it’s for security. And maybe it is. But the main purpose seems to be so that they can keep track of your phone calls and count how many clients call you. What’s annoying about this is that clients end up thinking it’s really your number and they end up calling you at that number even after they’ve become clients.
The main purpose of any search results page is for the visitor to sort through the list of therapists in order to find their ideal match. The way to do that is to use the advanced search options on the left side of the page. This is where Psychology Today really falls flat. There just aren’t many filters to help narrow down your search. You can filter by issue or treatment orientation but that still doesn’t focus your options very much, because of the vast amount of therapists on the site. With the amount of therapists listed they could create some really refined search filters if they wanted. It’s a missed opportunity on their part. And when you do use the advanced search, the process is clunky and cumbersome.
TherapyDen takes a different approach. The design and functionality is based off of popular and current user interfaces, such as Airbnb, Yelp and ZocDoc. When you land on the results page, there is a map with pins that takes up the right side, and a list of therapists on the left. The user can choose to zoom in and out on the map or scroll up and down on the list to see the different therapists. TherapyDen also includes practitioner’s real phone numbers.
It’s with the advanced search options that TherapyDen really shines. Users can filter therapists based on services, such as individual counseling, couples counseling, family therapy and so on. They can also filter by mental health issue, which is pretty standard for a therapist directory, but TherapyDen has many issues that are not present in Psychology Today’s directory. Here is a list of a handful of issues that are unique to TherapyDen:
As you can see, TherapyDen has some progressive and more relevant issues for users to choose from. These are issues that many people are seeking therapy for these days.
You can also search for a therapist by out of pocket cost, which can’t be done on Psychology Today.
Additionally, TherapyDen allows users to search for a therapist based on the counselor’s specialized experience in a specific area. A handful of those areas are:
These areas, plus a few more, make it easy for clients to find a therapist that specializes in their specific issue.
Clients also have the ability to filter for online counseling services, offices that are ADA compliment, therapist’s gender (male, female and trans/non-binary), language spoken, familiarity with different faiths and more.
The nice thing about TherapyDen’s search page is that it gives the client a lot of filters to search with, but at the same time, it doesn’t overwhelm the client with too many un-needed options.
One of the most important goals of a therapist’s profile page is to allow the client to really get to know you. Psychology Today and TherapyDen take different approaches.
Psychology Today’s profile page is pretty basic. It’s clean. It’s white. It provides a therapist a place to write about themselves without much direction. A therapist can list their specialties and their fee policy. It’s all the stuff you’d probably expect to see on a profile page. I wish I could write more but there’s just not much to say.
TherapyDen’s profile page covers everything Psychology Today’s does, but also adds a bit more structure and a few bells and whistles. Along with all the standard stuff, TherapyDen asks therapists to write about their approach and background in one section and also about their personal beliefs and interests in another. Therapists have a choice to talk about how much they enjoy gardening or something even more vulnerable, such as how much they care about social justice issues and how it impacts them on a daily basis.
TherapyDen also encourages therapists to not only select their specialties, but to write a short explanation about why they specialize in those areas. This allows clients to really understand what makes a therapist an expert on a certain topic.
If therapists have an online scheduling tool, such as the online scheduler from SimplePractice, they are able to link up or embed the scheduling tool directly into their profile page so that clients can schedule an appointment without leaving the website.
Psychology Today has only one flat rate that is $30 a month. While TherapyDen is free during their beta period, they have two subscription rates for therapists to choose from. You can pay $20 a month for a standard profile. Or you can pay $30 a month that will get you featured on the homepage at times and given personalized tips on how to attract more referrals. The $30 plan also allows therapists to donate 10% of their profile fees to one of five organizations that TherapyDen supports. Those organizations are:
As I mentioned at the top, Psychology Today wins when it comes to client referrals. And that’s super important. But TherapyDen wins, at least in my humble opinion, in most of the other categories. And one of those categories is challenging racism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination through a therapist directory that is progressive and inclusive. If we therapists want to stand for those values, then it’s important to sign up with directories like TherapyDen so they can have a chance to compete in online search rankings and raise the standard for marketing services in the mental health field.
Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.