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Find a Therapist - Feedback from Independent Practitioners Special Interest Group

Authors: Taf Kunorubwe, Sarah McCartney, Lee Grant, Stephen Wilson

Members of the BABCP IPSIG Committee

An abridged version of this information was published in the February 2023 issue of CBT Today magazine.

For those less familiar with the BABCP ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage, this is the online directory that allows clients and referrers to find CBT Therapists who offer private therapy.

From the perspective of the IPSIG Committee, it was clear that the ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage could be improved upon. This was based on discussions with peers, feedback from clients and even dialogue on social media.

Committee members have been liaising with the central office over the years about this and other aspects of the website. Special thanks to Phil McDougall, Michelle Harwood, Helen MacDonald, Peter Elliott and others for engaging with us.

Importance of the Webpage

A good website is invaluable with a significant proportion of the population using the internet as part of their day-to-day activities. Prescott (2021) reported 92% of adults in the UK were recent internet users in 2020. This extends to help-seeking behaviours for mental health problems with the internet being used to research symptoms, determine if support is required, express the need for help, identify and access support (Pretorius et al, 2019). 

To support in building the case for updating the ‘Find a Therapist’ and providing concrete feedback, the IPSIG created an anonymous survey to understand Independent Practitioners views on the ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage and what features they would like if it were to be redesigned. Ensuring that the ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage and arguably the entire website is fit for purpose and provides quality health information is an imperative; with benefits for clients, BABCP members and the organisation as a whole.

This article provides a brief summary of the findings and considers how these could be utilised to engage in a process of redeveloping the ‘Find A Therapist’ webpage.

Details of the survey

The survey was emailed to all IPSIG members (1 December 2022), receiving a total of 121 responses. Comprised of a range of qualitative and quantitative questions to explore Independent Practitioners perspectives.

Of the respondents, 55.37% were currently listed, 15.7% had previously been listed and 28.93% were not listed on the ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage (Figure 1).

Respondents reported utilising a range of other platforms to accept private referrals, including other directory sites, other accrediting bodies, referral companies, and even social media. 91.74% reported using more than one platform and 76.03% had their own website. This aligns with recommendations for small businesses to utilise Cross-Platform promotion to increase reach, promote engagement and facilitate multiple opportunities for contact (Puthussery, 2020).

The survey provided a rich source of information, and the qualitative data is currently being analysed using Reflective Thematic Analysis (Braun& Clarke, 2006). Figure 2 shows an illustration of initial themes but a more detailed write up is being worked on.

The IPSIG committee would like to thank everyone who shared and took the time to answer the survey. As well as those who were able to attend the online meeting on 14th December 22. The results are not only fascinating but offer key insights from Independent Practitioners.

Satisfaction & Ease of use

On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is not at all and 10 is very high, respondents rated the ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage as 3.77 for satisfaction and 4.32 for ease of use. The importance and impact of perceptions of ease of use and satisfaction, can’t be underestimated. As Flavián et al (2006) found, trust in a website increased when the user perceived that the system was usable, greater usability was found to have a positive influence on satisfaction, and this also generated greater website loyalty. Part of the benefit of developing the webpage is to increase ease of use, satisfaction and indirectly increase its use.

Reasons for being listed

An initial theme identified related to the reasons members choose to be registered on the BABCP ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage. One sub-theme - the webpage is a means for finding accredited therapists that is known to other professionals or even referral companies.

“Local GPs often draw their patients attention to it to find accredited therapists. Insurance companies and EAP might look at it” Respondent 62

Another sub-theme - being registered acts as a quality mark as a number of respondents wrote about how being listed there confers a degree of credibility and authenticity.

“BABCP is directly linked with my therapy offering and has a quality assurance aspect to the public that they are finding somebody appropriately trained” Respondent 37

This is important in conveying to clients that the therapist is appropriately trained, supervised and is working ethically within their scope of practice. There is an argument that having an effective and streamlined directory may indirectly serve to minimise the number of clients who end up seeking therapy from unqualified/ minimally qualified therapists or unregulated treatments for mental health. The prevalence and impact of this problem cannot be underestimated, with Dunbar (2019) reported on how these are increasingly promoted on social media.

Another subtheme - a sense of affiliation, loyalty to the BABCP or individuals who thought they should.

“Don’t know now that you’ve asked! I think it was because I thought I had to.” Respondent 46

In summary, it is apparent that members perceive some key link with the BABCP and some benefit in being registered in one form or another. This highlights the case for improving the webpage. 

Reasons for not being listed

The first sub-theme for the reasons members chose not to be registered – was whether the directory facilitated referrals; numerous respondents reported limited referrals.

“Was on the Find a Therapist webpage for 4 or 5 years with little to no work coming from it” Respondent 80

Another sub-theme – high cost with limited return. Respondents tended to mention these together, suggesting that if it was effective, members would be more amenable to incurring that expense. Understandably, if the directory doesn’t provide a return most people would consider whether to keep paying for it. 

“It costs more money than BPS?!” Respondent 28

“Not value for money” Respondent 48

The final sub-theme - poor usability, difficulties with the system and whether it would be fit for purpose. A number of respondents wrote about problems with the system and a few reported they couldn’t find themselves easily.

“It was very hard for people to find me - even if I searched for myself it did not always come up if I searched my area.” Respondent 91

“Struggled to find myself and not 1 referral” Respondent 20

These offer members accounts of how they have encountered difficulties and issues with the current webpage, highlighting the need for improvement. 

Additional feature requests

The first sub-theme in relation to additional or new features – need for meaningful information. This included pertinent information about their practice, e.g. approach, special interests, availability, and therapist photos etc. Alongside this there is a need to be able to amend this information quickly and easily.

“Therapist photos, an area for client reviews, branding/ logos, speciality’s or special interest areas, a map showing locations” Respondent 30

Another sub-theme - an effective and intuitive search function. An improved, easier user experience would lead to higher level of satisfaction and use of the directory. It is important to ensure that the design is intuitive enough to accommodate our diverse range of clients. For instance, Chen et al, (2005) highlight the importance for directories to have an intuitive design to equally benefit different cognitive and processing styles.

“Refined options in the search bar to include searching for specific therapists for specific conditions e.g. depression, age range, specialism, location, face to face or online therapy, fee brackets etc” Respondent 86

The final sub-theme – the webpage needs to be easily found and amongst the top results on search engines.

“Please note though that it doesn't matter how lovely the new webpage looks, or how well it functions if traffic doesn't get driven to it. It needs to show well on google, and therefore needs good SEO etc” Respondent 27

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising web pages in a way that improves their ranking in search engines such as Google / Bing (Li et al., 2014). It offers an alternative to advertising or marketing campaigns to drive traffic to a website. With effective optimisation it can be possible to improve the visibility on search engines and search engine ranking (Pohjanen, 2019) and has links to user satisfaction (Berman & Katona, 2013).

How the data will be used

The responses were incredibly helpful in providing the Independent Practitioners perspectives. The data is being disseminated through this article; the anonymised data has been shared with the BABCP central office as part of a rationale for redeveloping the webpage.

If you want to contribute

The BABCP Central Office, have confirmed they will be redeveloping the website. However as you can imagine, ensuring that the ‘Find a Therapist’ meets the needs of Independent Practitioners and clients is a considerable piece of work. It will likely, require multiple points of feedback, liaison with BABCP central office and even testing updates.

We ask for any members interested in supporting with all or any of these steps, to please contact our committee by email: ipsig@babcp.com.

Conclusion

Hopefully, through sharing this summary of findings, we have started to convey the perspectives of Independent Practitioners on the ‘Find a Therapist’ webpage. Offering some insight into the value it holds, problem areas in need of development and even key features that practitioners would wish to see.

In writing this we are aware of the need to update the whole BABCP website, but also aware of the need to collect perspectives from clients, lay members, and those who work in other sectors. However, with the scope of our resources the IPSIG are not able to undertake this. We would ask the BABCP as an organisation to strongly consider undertaking such a piece of work to develop a website that truly meets the needs of clients, members and the organisation itself.

Footnote

If you would like to join the IPSIG committee, you can complete the form at https://ipsig.net/join-ipsig/ or log in to the Members' Area of this website and select the SIGs you want to join.

References

  • Berman, R., & Katona, Z. (2013) The Role of Search Engine Optimization in Search Marketing. Marketing Science, 32 (4), 644-651
  • Chen, S.Y., Magoulas, G.D. & Dimakopoulos, D. (2005). A flexible interface design for web directories to accommodate different cognitive styles. Journal of the American Society for information science and Technology56 (1), 70-83.
  • Dunbar, J., (2019, September 24). File on 4: The Therapy Business. [Radio Show]. Retrieved from: (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0008nxl. Accessed 10 January 2023)
  • Flavián, C., Guinalíu, M. & Gurrea, R. (2006). The role played by perceived usability, satisfaction and consumer trust on website loyalty. Information & management, 43 (1), 1-14.
  • Li, K., Lin, M., Lin, Z. & Xing, B. (2014). Running and Chasing-The Competition between Paid Search Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 47.
  • Pohjanen, R., 2019. The benefits of search engine optimization in Google for businesses. University of Oulu.
  • Prescott, C., 2021. Internet users, UK: 2020. Office for National Statistics.
  • Pretorius, C., Chambers, D. & Coyle, D. (2019). Young people’s online help-seeking and mental health difficulties: Systematic narrative review. Journal of medical Internet research, 21 (11)..
  • Puthussery, A., 2020. Digital marketing: an overview. Vancouver
  • Tao, D., LeRouge, C., Smith, K. J. & De Leo, G. (2017). Defining Information Quality Into Health Websites: A Conceptual Framework of Health Website Information Quality for Educated Young Adults. JMIR Hum Factors, 4(4).

 

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