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Americans care about these things the most when choosing a therapist – digitalhub



When it comes time to find a therapist, three-quarters of Americans just want someone to listen to them and treat them with respect, according to new research.

The study surveyed 2,000 Americans who have received mental healthcare within the past year and those who plan to seek care in the coming year to analyze their opinions on mental health care in the United States.

Once they find a therapist, convenience appears to be the most important aspect – with over half noting their top factors were affordability, the distance they have to travel and the therapist’s availability.

In fact, only 44% of respondents said they review a therapist’s area of specialty when making the decision on who to see.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of AbleTo, the survey also found that only four in 10 respondents said they look at the type of therapy or method offered when choosing a therapist.

The survey also found that 33% of respondents said affordable therapy was actually a sign that it was high quality.

And cost does not necessarily correlate to high-quality care; 56% of respondents disagreed with the idea that the higher the cost, the better the quality of care.

The next aspect respondents associated with high-quality treatment was that their symptoms improved, at 65%.

For at least 43% of those surveyed, the top sign of a high-quality mental healthcare experience – is simply having access to appointments that are available and work for their schedules.

In terms of describing a high-quality therapist, three-quarters of respondents said they merely want someone that treats them with respect and dignity.

And over half of respondents also said they believe their therapist should be someone who is willing to adjust their therapy as needed, as well as someone who is willing to discuss difficult topics with them.

The importance of a strong personal relationship even outweighed results – as only 25% of respondents associated a record of good results of treating patients with similar needs as a sign of a high-quality therapist.

The survey also asked 100 practicing mental health care providers about the barriers they face when it comes to providing high-quality care to patients and found over half said the top inhibitor is a lack of resources to refer patients for specialty care.

Forty-six percent of providers surveyed also said high patient load impacts their ability to provide high-quality care.

Providers also shared how they evaluate themselves and the quality of the care they provide.

The top ways providers do so is by routinely assessing their patient’s symptom progressions as well as continuing their education in their field, both at 68%.

“People with mental health needs are rightly focused on finding care that’s affordable and easily accessible,” said Dr. Reena Pande, Chief Medical Officer, AbleTo. “They trust that we providers will take responsibility for delivering treatment that is high quality and evidence-based.”

The results also showed providers are so committed to their patients, 61% reported they attend training beyond what is required for their licenses.

Other signs they’re providing high-quality care included how long patients stay in their practice (48%) and if those patients have referred someone to their practice (47%).

“Our mental health impacts every aspect of life,” added Dr. Pande. Access and affordability are important, but equally important is finding the right treatment tailored to one’s unique emotional needs. That can be transformative for patients.”


Top factors considered when choosing a therapist

  1. Affordability                                                           58%
  2. Distance/convenience                                           53%
  3. Availability                                                             52%
  4. Areas of specialty                                                  44%
  5. Therapy type/methodology                                    40%
  6. Years of experience                                               36%
  7. Reviews or recommendations                               36%
  8. Type of license or credential                                  29%
  9. Track record of success treating patients like me  28%
  10. Gender                                                                   24%
  11. Hospital/organizational affiliation                           17%
  12. Age                                                                         11%
  13. Race/ethnicity/diversity                                            6%


Top 10 barriers that impact providers when providing high-quality mental healthcare

  1. Lack of resources to refer patients for additional specialty care                            52%
  2. High patient load                                                                                                    46%
  3. Lack of culturally relevant materials/tools/resources for patients                           43%
  4. Lack of specialized behavioral health resources (i.e. psychiatry) to consult with  42%
  5. Lack of measurement-based care resources/guidance                                         39%
  6. Frequent patient no-shows/late cancellations                                                        36%
  7. Lack of electronic health record                                                                             33%
  8. Cost of professional trainings                                                                                 30%
  9. Cost of tools for symptom tracking                                                                         26%
  10. Lack of access to supervision                                                                                26%


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