Why Do Therapists Still Support the Incredibly Problematic Psychology Today?

Jeff Guenther on Jul 21, 2021

Honestly, therapist community, why do we still support Psychology Today? They are a garbage therapist directory with an incredibly problematic magazine. We have the power to defund them. Why aren’t we doing it? We have many other options for therapist directories. Why aren’t we canceling our profiles with them? Are the referrals so valuable that we can’t imagine quitting their website? How much harm are we complicit in by paying them a monthly fee? I urge you to cancel your Psychology Today subscription right now. Consider signing up for another directory, or just save the money. Your practice will be fine. It will still thrive. And then you can sleep easier, knowing you won’t be a part of a directory and magazine that is holding the mental health industry back. Let me explain.

Psychology Today is based in the Cayman Islands.

Did you know that Psychology Today is based in the Cayman Islands? Click on their parent site and you’ll see right at the bottom of the page that their address is: 10 Market St, Suite 750, Camana Bay, Grand Cayman KY1-9006, Cayman Islands.

Now, I’m no tax expert, and while I legally can’t say that they aren’t paying taxes, I really don’t know any other reason you would base your company in the Cayman Islands. Did you know that companies located in the Cayman Islands don’t have to pay corporate or income tax on money earned outside of its territory?

Do you, fellow therapist, pay taxes on your earnings? Of course you do. Do you want to support companies in the mental health industry that also pay their taxes? Then why are you paying for a Psychology Today subscription? Stop supporting an unethical business.

Psychology Today’s magazine is problematic on so many levels.

Throw away the Psychology Today magazines that are littering your waiting room. I made an infographic that you can view and share here (or that you can view at the bottom of this article) that clearly shows how obsessed they are with featuring white women on their magazine covers. Particularly thin, young and beautiful white women. Honestly, it’s disturbing.

Dating back to January of 1992 (that’s as far back as I can find in their archives), 94% of their cover models were white. That’s staggering. And every single person who has ever graced the cover of their magazine has been thin; never people in bigger bodies. It’s clearly a priority for them to only feature thin people on their magazine covers. So much for front and center body affirming messages from the leading psychology magazine in the country, am I right?

Of all the people who have been on the cover, every single one, except Freud and the Dalai Lama, fit the western standard of beauty. Why is it okay for a magazine, that we all support through our subscriptions, to only feature people that are considered attractive by western, mainstream ideals? What kind of message does that perpetuate? How have we all become complicit? This backwards company is obviously still operating under the impression that hot girls sell magazines… Call me crazy, but when publishing a magazine designed to make psychology interesting and approachable for the masses, shouldn’t you represent the masses?

Psychology Today’s directory could be so much more inclusive.

First of all, I will say that the Psychology Today directory is evolving slowly. So that’s something. It shows that if we pressure them to evolve by leaving their platform, or at least threatening to leave, they will sometimes capitulate.

Back in April of 2019, TherapyDen started a campaign asking Psychology Today to add a filter that allowed clients to search for therapists that are non-binary. The petition gained steam quickly and a few days later Psych Today added the gender to their search filters. So there is proof that someone over there is listening, but it’s very unlikely that they’ll ever evolve with the times without a large group of therapists asking for positive and meaningful change.

At the very least, Psychology Today needs to include the following:

  • Filters for therapists who specialize in health at every size and body positivity

  • Filters for therapists who are specialists in racial and social justice

  • Add vegan therapists to the site

  • Feature therapists who work with kink and sexual outsiders

  • Expand their search filters so people in non-monogamous relationships can find a therapist who specializes in polyamory

  • Allow people to find therapists who are sex worker-friendly and knowledgeable

  • Create a filter for therapists who have gender neutral bathrooms

  • Allow people to filter for therapists who are in the LGBTQ community

  • Allow people to search for therapists who have ADA accessible offices

That’s just a short list of improvements they could employ in a day or two. If Psychology Today wants to remain the leading therapist directory, and we allow them to hold their monopoly, then they need to evolve with the times as fast as we are evolving and growing.

So what should we do?

WE SHOULD QUIT PSYCHOLOGY TODAY! Trust me. You’ll be fine and your practice will continue to thrive. You don’t need them. We, as a community, don’t need them. They are holding us back in so many ways.

You can save $30 and take yourself out to a fancy lunch every month. That’s money much more well spent. Or better yet, take that $30 and use it to sign up for better and more forward-thinking directories. The more directories you sign up for that aren’t Psychology Today, the more you’re helping to move the industry forward.

Here are some directories that I think are doing good work:

TherapyDen - I made TherapyDen so there’s a chance I might be a little biased but I created the directory as a direct response to how problematic Psychology Today is. Did you know you can create a beautiful and fully functioning profile for free? If you decide to pay for your profile, we charge based on a sliding scale between $10 to $30 a month. Learn more here.

Therapy for Black Girls - I love this site and how progressive and forward-thinking they are. As the name of the directory suggests, it was made to provide mental health resources to Black women and girls that’s more accessible and relevant. It’s just $15 a month, and they also produce a really great podcast. Learn more here.

Inclusive Therapists - The name says it all and they live up to it. They feature therapists that truly get the modern client. They believe that all people deserve equal access to care. Their mission is to center disenfranchised people and communities. Like TherapyDen, they have free accounts and sliding scale options. Learn more here.

Mental Health Match - They are trying to move the industry forward by building a survey that will better match clients to therapists, and they are strong proponents of inclusivity and diversity. They are also cheaper than Psychology Today starting at $17 a month and going up to $25 a month.

Together we can support mental health companies that have strong and clear values that match our own. We don’t have to keep supporting a company like Psychology Today that is stuck in the past. Our community has a strong voice, a lot of power and can make a big difference. Stop advertising with Psychology Today. They are not contributing anything of value to our community.

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.

Recommended Articles