Shedding some light on yet another unethical approach

I'm a pro-therapist business owner with an eye for figuring out how things work so that I can make them better. I built Thera-Fi so that the clinicians can have a career that basically takes care of them for the rest of their working lives. I actually built it with my sister in mind. She realized that once she goes through several college programs, she'll have a masters degree and make right around 50% of what she currently makes with just cutting hair - that's heartbreaking. I looked into it and realized that the revenue is there but the money is usually funneled to the owner or their investors. Well, that was an easy decision point. I built out Thera-Fi... kind of like the big companies like the one in this headline but the key difference is that most of the money goes back to the clinician instead of investors or any other entity that they owe money to. But there's one thing that really pisses me off: The fact that companies like BH are capitalizing on people's vulnerability by making promises they know can't be kept. You see this sort of thing all the time on social media platforms like YouTube or Reddit, where people make comments about needing help but don't actually have any intention of getting it (and then post it publicly). And now BH is doing the same thing with its ads on those sites! They also hired influencers to claim that they were receiving their services and "forgot" to mention that it was a paid advertisement. Well, they supposedly cleaned up their act by posting that those were paid for advertisements and moved on.... Or so we thought.


For those who aren't familiar:

BH is an online therapy service that has gotten a ton of press lately for its unethical marketing, targeting ads at YouTube viewers with low self-esteem, and offering lengthy free trials. It's not as bad as it sounds if you're paying for the service; but if you're getting stuck with fees because your therapist didn't accept your cancellation request on time or whatever else happens when an app does shady stuff—that's another story.


If you're considering becoming a BH client, you may be wondering if it's the right choice. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is this company legitimate?

  • Are they selling therapy services or just marketing services?

  • Do they have any therapists on staff who can actually provide treatment to clients or are they all just contracted workers?

  • What does the fine print on their website say? I read it and boy were there a lot of asterisks to point out their claims may not be typical or a list of rebuttals to their own comments. Don't kill the messenger here. They change up their website frequently so just take a look at the fine print to get an idea of their latest issues.

The latest scheme: Caredash (CD) has been scraping therapists' info off of the internet and creating a bogus listing with their information.


Ok... so what? Well, they create the list and oftentimes, the info is incorrect. Correct or incorrect, if the therapist didn't sign up for this listing service, it doesn't matter because it isn't built out to help the therapist. It was created to help BH and we'll get to that point in a moment. But let's go down their rabbit trail just a little more. CD didn't let the therapist know that they were now on CD's website. And if a therapist were to find out that they were on the listing, they couldn't close out the profile and they couldn't make any corrections because CD didn't build that list for them. So what happens if a potential client is looking on line for a therapist and clicks on a specific therapist's profile on CD's listings. Well, they get redirected. They get redirected and not to the therapist that they chose but to BH's website instead.


It's hard to believe that someone at BH didn't realize what was happening. After all, this sort of stuff happens all the time online—and not just with ads for online therapy services. Do you remember how Facebook started displaying ads for credit cards in your feed? Or how YouTube videos were being used as propaganda by Russian hackers? These things happen because human beings can be really shady people and when it comes to money, you don't have to look very far in the history of anything to find a dumpster fire full of unethical practices just to make a few extra bucks.


Even if it weren't intentional on their part, they still benefit from this behavior.

Even if you don't think BH is being intentionally slimy, the fact remains that their business model still benefits from this behavior. After all, if the therapist doesn't want their misinformation on CD, they now login, claim their profile and update their data points - giving away more information than they intended to. And don't forget that both companies (BH and CD) had to sign contracts to do business with each other and to agree on compensation. They are not the only tech company to do this in order to boost revenue and profits, either. In fact, doing so has become a common practice for many companies across all industries as they seek out ways to monetize their services.


The bottom line is that this problem isn't going away any time soon; it's one of those things we're going to have to deal with until we can figure out how to fix it or find some way around it. So what do we do? Possibly class action suits. Remember, this is all done for profits so if it isn't a financially viable solution, then perhaps they'll abandon the practice and find another avenue to exploit.


There are people out there who are genuinely trying to help others but BH and CD are not counted among them.

If you need help and want to talk to a therapist, don't be fooled by the promises that their site makes. If you're feeling depressed or anxious, please seek out a real licensed professional with proper training and experience in mental health issues. Don't trust companies that promise to help you for free—they almost never have your best interests at heart. It's important not only to consider what kind of person runs this business but also how they've behaved in the past when it comes time for clients (who are also people) to decide whether they should be trusted with their money and their personal information.


What to take away from all of this.

The thing about BH is that it makes me wonder if anyone (in the near future) will be able to truly escape their influence. The company has been pumping about $7 million dollars annually into their advertising efforts, and it seems like every time they get bad press or something else goes wrong, they come back with a new shady business model. It isn't hard to offer an ethical service but it seems that when you have company full of leaders focused on unethical scheme after unethical scheme (focused on ripping of clients and then taking advantage of clinicians that work for them or have nothing to do with them), it is only a matter of time before we see a major collapse and watch the cockroaches scatter when the media starts uncovering issue after issue. In the meantime, if you are a potential client, don't be fooled by the hype promising you a better life and saving you from yourself.

Look at your options, ask questions, and use common sense. If you can't talk with the therapist or the owner of the clinic before signing up, well then those are gatekeepers put in place to minimize the chance that you leave before getting a credit card. If you're looking for a therapist, ask for referrals from people you trust, do research on them and make sure they are licensed in your state.


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We aim to take care of the clinicians' every "need" so that they can focus on their clients.

TheraFi offers automated appointment scheduling, reminders and confirmations; billing support; patient education resources; and more — all with the goal of improving patient satisfaction. That sounds pretty good...right? That doesn't really take care of the clinician though. It makes the patient experience better - which is always a good thing. So what do therapists need?


How about better benefits for the clinician?

1) How about better benefits for the clinicians? If you want to attract and retain talent, then you need to offer them something they can't get anywhere else. Sadly, most therapists in private practices are being offered the bare minimum when it comes to the basics. If you're going to provide health insurance coverage as part of your compensation package, then you should be willing to pay more than minimum wage so that employees can afford it on their own dime rather than having to rely on government subsidies. Orrrr... It is a business of course so get creative. Too many hospitals and private practice owners focus on getting rich off of their employees. It is no wonder that they have a high turnover rate. What if you offered to pay the for the majority of their health benefits - not just 50%. Go further and see if your employees would appreciate 65-100% paid health insurance. How about free dental and vision?


2) How about more money? It's no secret that therapists make less than what other professionals do for similar levels of education and experience. Many of these big box companies pay their therapists about 50% of what the therapist is making the company. The therapist does the work but the company provides...the client I guess. But after a while, the clinician starts getting referrals based on previous clients. Also, why keep them on but only as a contract worker? I could see starting it out that way to make sure there is a fit for both parties but unless the clinician specifically asks to stay on only as a contractor, why put such a financial burden on them? It almost seems like a parasitic relationship - paying the clinician just enough to pay the bills so that they can't afford to move on.


3) How about more respect when it comes to managing their own schedules? If you're a manager, you probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make your team more productive. You're probably thinking about how to get your employees to work harder or longer hours and how to motivate them.

But I have good news for you: If you trust your employees to manage their own schedules, they'll probably do just fine - especially if you are using a scheduling system. Just show them how it works and let them at it. A little training goes a long way and most systems come with loads of free training.

I'm not suggesting that you turn over the reins completely — there are still some things that managers should do, like setting goals, giving feedback and making sure that their notes are completed on time. But if you let go of the reins when it comes to scheduling, then you can focus more on helping your employees be successful in other ways.


Here's why trusting employees with their schedules works well:

It makes everyone happier — including you as a manager/owner! When people have control over their lives and schedules, they feel empowered and motivated by knowing they get to decide what they want to accomplish each day instead of having someone else make those decisions for them.

It increases productivity by reducing stress and burnout. Employees who are given autonomy over their schedules end up being more engaged in their work because they don't have any extra stressors floating around in their minds. Give them guidelines such as a minimum and a maximum amount of hours they need to work to hit their goals. Simply sit down with a calendar and plan out some basics such as planned time away for continuing education credits and any company holidays. Then let them take it from there. At TheraFi, we let the clinician know what it takes to be eligible for certain benefits. It isn't rocket science, it's scheduling with a little bit of legal underwriting mixed in. From there, they post what their availabilities are and the clients make a choice based off of the posted schedule. But this doesn't just have to be a TheraFi thing. Any company... if they want to... can look at their profit margin and build out a plan that sustains clinicians so that they don't burn out.

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Mental health is just as important as physical health, but we often don't pay enough attention to it. For example, if you're feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, then it's time to seek help. Here are some signs that show that you should probably see a therapist:


You're struggling with a loss.

You're not alone if you're struggling with a loss. Loss is a normal part of life, but it can still be a difficult experience to go through. A loss can be any type of trauma or loss that causes you pain and grief. The following are some examples of common types of losses:

  • Death (loss of a loved one)

  • Divorce/separation

  • Job loss/layoff

  • Home foreclosure or eviction from your apartment

  • Health issues affecting your ability to work full-time, stay at home with children, etc. (or those affecting someone you love)

A major life change has happened.

  • You've lost a loved one.

  • You're going through a divorce.

  • You've been diagnosed with a serious illness (such as cancer).

  • Your spouse has left you for another person.


You're feeling overly anxious.

If you’re feeling anxious, it’s important to note that anxiety is a universal human experience. It's a normal response to stress and can be used as a tool for survival. Anxiety can be beneficial if it helps you perform well on an exam or ace an interview. However, when your anxiety starts interfering with your ability to function at home or in school—or if you're feeling unusually nervous all the time—it may be time to talk with someone about what's going on.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States: 40 million adults suffer from some type of anxiety disorder each year. And while anxiety disorders often occur alongside or after other mental health conditions (such as depression), they can also exist alone. If this sounds like something that applies to you, consider seeking help from a qualified therapist who specializes in treating both depression and other types of mood disorders as well as issues related specifically toward helping people deal with stressful life events involving relationships between family members, work environments and personal finances.


You're having trouble controlling your anger.


Anger is a normal emotion. In fact, it's one of the most common emotions we feel in our lives and it can be a healthy outlet for some people; however, for others anger becomes destructive. Anger can lead to a cycle of negative thoughts that spiral out of control, causing physical harm to yourself or others around you. When this happens it can lead to loss of relationships and even loss of control over your life due to your inability to stop the cycle once it starts.

If these are symptoms that you're experiencing then counseling might be right for you!


You rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress.


  • You rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress.

Everyone has their bad habits, but if you find yourself constantly turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse or food binging when you're feeling overwhelmed by life's stresses, it could be time to consider therapy. Often times we try to self-medicate our emotions because we don't have the words or know how to vocalize them, but this can become destructive in the long run. Instead of using these negative actions as a way of dealing with your emotions, seek out other methods that can help you cope such as exercise, journaling or talking with a friend about what's bothering you instead of isolating yourself from others who care about you - even if it seems embarrassing at first!

  • You feel like there is no end in sight when it comes to your mental health struggles

If there are certain challenges that seem impossible for you and your family member/friend/colleague etc., then therapy might be right for them too! When people feel like there’s no hope left and they have exhausted all possible options available through different treatments such as medication alone (with little success) then therapy may offer new insight into their problems which could lead toward better outcomes overall especially if they work together with their therapist toward goals set during sessions while also focusing on making changes within themselves outside those sessions too (exercising regularly).


Your thoughts are more negative than positive.

Your thoughts are more negative than positive.

If you find yourself thinking a lot of negative thoughts, it could be a sign of depression or anxiety. It can also be related to stress, trauma, and other mental health issues. If you’re noticing this pattern in your thinking, it might be time for therapy.


If you think you might benefit from mental health therapy, it is worth reaching out to a therapist if you can find someone you trust.

If you think you might benefit from mental health therapy, it is worth reaching out to a therapist if you can find someone you trust. Therapy can help people learn how to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. It can also help people deal with anger issues or other emotional problems.

If you are seeking mental healthcare for the first time or if it has been some time since your last session, it's important to consider what type of counseling may be best suited for your needs.


Conclusion

If you’re struggling and feel like therapy could help, it is worth reaching out to a therapist if you can find someone you trust. You are not alone in this struggle and there are many people who have gone through what you’re going through now. Mental health therapy is not just for those who have been diagnosed but also helps people cope with life events both big and small.

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Therapy and Mental Wellness