Better suited therapy
Through Better Matching
At Psychmatch, we're on a mission to improve treatment outcomes in mental health through better matching.
We do this by connecting clients and psychologists using a matching algorithm that predicts how well they’ll work together.
We know from a large body of research that a good therapeutic alliance, that is a good working relationship, can have a significant impact on the success of treatment. But we also know that the drop-out rate for treatment is between 17-50%.
Some people drop out for reasons that can’t be controlled for. We want to reduce elements of the dropout rate that can be controlled for.
Close to 80% of people tell us they are not at all confident in identifying the ‘right’ psychologist and more than 60% tell us they personally know of friends or family who have had difficulty finding the right psychologist for them.
Given government spending on mental health is $6.6 billion a year, we think reducing that error rate is essential.
The predictors of a good therapeutic alliance are also a matter of ongoing research. We want to increase the evidence base for different match characteristics and share our findings without paywalls.
Psychologists are human too
A strong therapeutic alliance can help the psychologist as much as the client.
There is a clear mental health crisis and a growing need for care in Australia. Yet even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shortage of mental health providers to meet the demand and that is likely only going to increase.
A 2020 study by the Australian Psychological Society of close to 300 psychologists, found close to 80% of participants could be classed as suffering from “high burnout” and close to 60% suffering from “high disengagement”. The study concludes there is a growing need for burnout reduction interventions.
A 2018 “study of studies” of 29 research papers on the prevalence and causes of burnout among applied psychologists (led by H.M. McCormack), found workload and work settings to be the leading causes of burnout with personal characteristics and resources (lack of) also playing important roles. Whereas control over clients, hours worked and case variability generally had a positive impact on the level of experience with burnout.
By controlling for a strong therapeutic alliance, we want to make treatment easier for both the client and psychologist. This in turn can reduce burnout and increase access and availability to better suited therapy.
What to match?
Earlier research tended to examine matches on general values and attitudes that may be quite separate to the processes occurring in treatment between a client and their psychologist. More researchers are now examining the possibility of specific traits as a more direct predictor of treatment outcomes.
We've adopted the best of both worlds. Our questionnaire is based on psychological scales focused on specific attitudes and perceptions as well as general values.
We match on:
coping style - how parties prefer to deal with a problem
shared life experiences, such as values and past times.
We also measure overall readiness for therapy and factor in demographic preferences such as gender and age to provide a comprehensive match.
Psychmatch is a social enterprise. A big part of our objective is research and development.
At the moment the scales i.e. questionnaires we use are 90+ questions long and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. This length is necessary to ensure we get accurate readings. However as more people complete the questionnaire we can do factor analysis to shorten the questions while still keeping the results robust.
We want to share this knowledge with the world, without paywalls, so that anyone can get better treatment.
I’m a lawyer with a background in public policy and regulatory simplification. I started Psychmatch because the lack of information and comparison available in the health sector can make it really difficult to find the right professional – where word of mouth is often the best option.
We think part of the problem is the lack of information available to help the patient or person making the referral decide whether a psychologist or councillor is going to be a good fit.
If we want to improve the outcomes for people with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, Australia needs to get smarter about the way we make referrals. Given lack of motivation is a common symptom for many conditions, we need to make the referrals process smoother and easier and we need to make sure that when someone does go to see a psychologist or councillor, it is a positive and constructive experience that will keep them coming back for further therapy.
These are the problems we are trying to solve at Psychmatch.
How much does this all cost?
Psychmatch is free for clients. We only ask that clients complete a short questionnaire after their first session. This feedback is very important because it allows us to properly test if the criteria for matching is working as intended.
Clients will of course have to pay to see a psychologist. Before seeing a psychologist, clients should get a mental health plan from their GP so sessions can be covered by Medicare. Currently, clients can claim up to 20 sessions a year. There may be out of pocket expenses if the psychologist’s fees is higher than what is covered by Medicare. For no out-of-pocket expenses, clients should enquire about bulk billing. We indicate out of pocket expenses when we propose a match.
Psychologists only pay for clients they accept to see. Psychologists can at anytime use our free ‘match to manage’ service to save time on admin and manage burnout. We ask that psychologists also complete a short feedback questionnaire so we can properly test the match.