Friday, March 16, 2007

Web site matches patients with mental-health pros

When you try to find a mental-health clinician, it can feel like a goose chase.

More often than not, you'll spend days, sometimes weeks, making 10, 20, occasionally 50 phone calls to find a clinician who is a) available within a few weeks, b) covered by your insurance, c) within driving distance or on a bus line, d) experienced with your problem or the treatment you're seeking and e) interested in working with you.

Last year, I wrote that we needed an online mental-health matching service, similar to online dating services. Earlier this month, as if they heard my plea, the popular magazine Psychology Today sent me a flier for its new Therapy Directory. It's a free (for the patient or client) online service at The directory already contains information for 5,000 mental-health clinicians.

When I entered "Cincinnati" and "depression," I got 30 hits, including two psychiatrists among the psychologists, social workers, counselors and a few nurses. Selecting my specific health insurance company narrowed the field to six therapists.

The clinician pays $30 per month to be listed on the site. Therapist profiles can include a photo, introductory statement, qualifications, treatment preferences, maps to the office, e-mail and other contacts, information on gender, age, cost/session, insurance provider status, specialties and client focus.

That's a lot more information than I can provide to a person who calls for a referral.

The therapy directory is young, but it's easy, has great potential - and it beats a blind date.

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