After years of struggling to find the right therapist, Denver resident Christine Thai is hoping to make the process a little easier.
She and her two co-founders are set on May 1 to launch Therapeasy, a website that will use a questionnaire-based system to partner users with compatible therapists.
“We’d like to say that we’re like the Match.com or eHarmony for therapists or for behavioral health,” Thai said.
For $49 a month, licensed therapists can create a profile and answer a questionnaire about their specialty areas, location, hours of operation and interpersonal style. On the other end, users can create a free profile and answer a questionnaire about their current mental health issues, whether they prefer virtual care and what kind of therapy style they prefer, such as a therapist who listens attentively, or one who’s more engaged with treatment and provides homework.
Shortly after the user completes the survey, they will receive three top matches based on their answers. Patients can look at the providers’ profiles, and even chat online with each therapist for the next 24 hours to avoid the initial consultation fee and process. If they find the right fit, the patient and provider take things off Therapeasy.
“I always use the example that it’s very common for us to have a physical exam once a year,” Thai said. ”It’s very common for us to have a couple of different dental cleanings once a year. We change our oil in our car. But we don’t really have that check-in for us, for ourselves in terms of mental health.
“Therapeasy is a part of a bigger movement of trying to encourage people to take care of their mental health the same way they would their physical health,” she said.
Thai said she met with different therapists through the years whose styles just weren’t effective for her mental well-being. She was tired of the time-consuming process and expensive consultation fees.
Thai, who works full time as a healthcare strategist, founded Therapeasy in 2018 with her friends Katie Richardson, a full-time pediatrician, and Jonathan Just, who has a background in hospital finance but now works full time for the website.
She said the trio spent about a year and a half conducting research to understand problems facing therapists and patients, and coming up with the matching algorithm.
“We did a large consumer survey online where we got about 500 responses, and that was just to gauge people’s experiences with behavioral health care and what they felt makes a great match with a therapist,” Thai said. “We also hosted several therapist focus groups, where we interviewed therapists to understand what makes a good match from their perspective and to see if this was something that they would use.”
The three friends self-funded the project, Thai said.
For now, Therapeasy will be available only in Colorado. Behavioral health providers who sign up for the website before the May 1 launch date will get their first three months free.
Thai said more than 150 therapists already have joined, and that launching amidst a pandemic makes total sense.
“As folks are staying at home more, it’s hard to access behavioral health in the traditional ways,” Thai said. “It’d be hard for patients to engage in an initial consultation in the provider’s office; it’d be hard for patients to find a therapist that they feel like they have a good connection with. So we actually think that if we get some good adoption on the site, hopefully, it becomes a tool that people, who may be grieving or feeling anxious, find useful during this time.”