BY SWNS Staff
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
- Affordability 58%
- Distance/convenience 53%
- Availability 52%
- Areas of specialty 44%
- Therapy type/methodology 40%
- Years of experience 36%
- Reviews or recommendations 36%
- Type of license or credential 29%
- Track record of success treating patients like me 28%
- Gender 24%
- Hospital/organizational affiliation 17%
- Age 11%
- Race/ethnicity/diversity 6%
Top 10 barriers that impact providers when providing high-quality mental healthcare
- Lack of resources to refer patients for additional specialty care 52%
- High patient load 46%
- Lack of culturally relevant materials/tools/resources for patients 43%
- Lack of specialized behavioral health resources (i.e. psychiatry) to consult with 42%
- Lack of measurement-based care resources/guidance 39%
- Frequent patient no-shows/late cancellations 36%
- Lack of electronic health record 33%
- Cost of professional trainings 30%
- Cost of tools for symptom tracking 26%
- Lack of access to supervision 26%