We know that one of the hardest parts of engaging in your mental health journey can be getting started—it is difficult to know where to begin. There are so many different types of therapy treatments and practices. Therapists also work from different theoretical orientations and varied styles, which can be confusing to navigate when choosing the right combination for your specific needs and preferences.
Furthermore, whether or not a therapist will have availability at the times that you can actually see them can also feel like a barrier to care.
Here's how we help
At Two Chairs, we aim to simplify what can be a complicated process. We also know from research that the relationship between the client and the therapist is one of the strongest predictors of whether or not therapy is effective. So we’ve invested in making the perfect match.
To make sure all our clients are matched with the best therapist for them, the first step in starting care with Two Chairs is a virtual matching appointment. Let’s take a look at what happens in that appointment.
What is a matching appointment?
In a Two Chairs matching appointment, you can expect to be on a video call with one of our licensed matching experts for about 45 minutes. It’s our chance to learn more about you and discuss things like what brings you in, your preferences for therapy, and what you hope to get out of it.
It’s important to note that the matching appointment is different from a therapy session. The matching appointment is a collaborative but highly targeted discussion, which aims to clarify your goals for therapy and help us match you with the best therapist for you. You can think of it like an intake session where we gain a more holistic understanding of your symptoms, goals, and other factors that contribute to your mental health. The matching expert you’ll meet in this session is a licensed therapist with deep training in making the right match for you.
Therapy is a collaborative treatment based on the ongoing relationship between you and a therapist that is grounded in dialogue. It provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who is objective and nonjudgmental to identify and change patterns that are keeping you from feeling your best.
Getting to know you and your needs
Once we get through the basics, a Two Chairs matching expert will spend the next half hour getting to know you and understanding what brought you to therapy.
This is the part of the appointment where you can share some of what’s been weighing on you—we want you to feel seen and heard, so the therapist may ask you questions like:
- Where would you like to start with what brings you in today?
- Do you find yourself ever missing work because of what you’re feeling?
- What is your social support network like, and do you feel connected to them?
- What have you found, if anything, to be helpful in coping with this?
- Have you tried therapy before? What was helpful or unhelpful about it?
- What are your hopes and expectations for therapy now? What do you want? What do you not want?
You may not know what’s going on with you or what type of therapy you need. But through this conversation between you and a matching expert, we’ll gain a better understanding of your needs and the clinical expertise on our team that can help you and ensure that the therapist you’re matched with is trained in whatever you’re dealing with.
Talking about therapy preferences
Your preferences for therapy may not be something you’ve thought about before—and that’s okay! The Two Chairs matching expert will guide you through some details and help you figure out what might work best for you.
For example, did you know that you can have a say in the structure of your therapy sessions (whether you want your therapist to lead and focus the content, or you want to lead yourself)? Or in whether you want your therapy to focus on your past and childhood or on what’s going on with you now and the future?
Our matching expert will also ask you about your preferences around your therapist’s level of directiveness, whether or not you’d like to incorporate homework between sessions, how expressive you want your therapist to be, and other factors.
In addition to preferences about your therapy sessions, we know from research that the identity of your therapist matters. We want to hear about any demographic preferences you may have for who you work with—whether that’s around age, race, gender, or something else—so that we can match you with someone from our diverse and growing team of therapists with whom you’ll feel comfortable.
And finally, therapy is something that should fit into your life, however works for you. Your matching therapist will talk to you about whether you would rather do virtual teletherapy via Zoom or Google Meet, or if you would prefer a hybrid approach of teletherapy sessions mixed with in-person sessions at one of our beautiful clinics.
Understanding what to expect and next steps
After listening to everything you choose to share, the matching expert will reflect on what they’ve heard and may share some initial thoughts on what type of therapy or therapist might be right for you. They will also give you an idea of how long you can expect to be in therapy to reach the goals you talked about. You’re welcome to give feedback on any of this—what your care looks like is a joint decision.
Following the appointment, our matching expert will take what you’ve shared and use our research-backed methodology to determine who among our therapist staff is the best fit for you.
An expert resource
There are many reasons we have a licensed therapist facilitate the matching appointment, rather than an administrative intake staff member. We know that starting therapy can be intimidating and overwhelming, and we want to make sure you have an expert guiding you through the process so you feel heard and supported in the next step.
We also know that finding the right therapist is one of the best ways to improve your mental health, so we’ve invested in perfecting the match. And we know our process works—98% of Two Chairs clients find the right therapist on the first try.
The matching expert is also a resource you can turn to if your needs for therapy change, or if you decide your initial therapist is no longer the best fit. In that case, you’re welcome to reach back out to your matching therapist—they’ll help figure out what isn’t working and get you connected to a new therapist at no cost to you.
Why do we focus on this “match” between a client and a therapist? Decades of clinical research shows that the relationship between a client and a therapist (i.e., the connection you feel with your therapist) is the best predictor of success in therapy. Two Chairs eases the process of finding a therapist who’s a great fit based on a client’s personal needs, goals for therapy, and preferences for a therapist.
Our matching process is backed by research and combines clinician insight with data and in-house developed technology. To match a client with a therapist, we consider nearly 300 variables to determine the type of therapy and style of therapist that will be most effective for each individual. From there, the matching expert uses a combination of clinical judgement, success data from previous matches and our helpful matching tool to thoughtfully match a client with a Two Chairs therapist.The Two Chairs matching system matches on factors that lead to a tight-knit therapeutic bond between a client and a therapist.
Indeed, a strong therapeutic alliance with your therapist bolsters and enhances individual outcomes in therapy. This research holds true whether the care is in-person or via teletherapy. For this reason, we pay a lot of attention to making sure our Two Chairs clients are matched to a therapist they will “click” with in the onset to set them up for a successful therapy journey.
Having a therapist you are well-matched to also saves time, energy, and money as opposed to having to “shop around” for the right fit.
In fact, the American Psychological Association estimates that one in five clients drop out from therapy after just one session. The research focused on the alliance between a client and a therapist shows that clients often cite feeling dissatisfied in their relationship with their therapist as a key motivator for premature termination.
We also know from the research that dropping out from therapy early can leave people with poorer outcomes than those who are engaged in treatment. On the other hand, at Two Chairs, we not only believe matching leads to better clinical outcomes, we also continue to assess how to match our clients to exceptional mental health care by getting their feedback along the way using our measurement-based care approach.
Clearly, it is important to feel connected and emotionally safe with your therapist, which allows for the space to start exploring symptoms and working on achieving the goals that have been set out for mental well-being.
Don’t just take it from us! Here are some thoughts from our current and past clients about how our matching process impacted their therapy:
"The level of care is excellent, and it's sooo much easier to navigate than calling random therapists and hoping you can find one you like."
"The questions and conversation before Two Chairs recommended a therapist resulted in a perfect match. I had tried once before to see a therapist (recommended by a friend) and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was very uncomfortable with trying again, Two Chairs made it immediately comfortable and I continue to be comfortable with my therapist."
"Being new to therapy, I put it off for the longest time because I wasn’t sure how to find a therapist that was right for me. Your matching process made this stress-free, and I’ve already recommended it to others!"
You can also read our helpful article on how therapy can help with common mental health challenges.
If you or someone you know is seeking mental health care, you can reach out to our Care Coordination team at email@example.com or by phone at (415) 202-5159.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency or crisis and needs immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Additional resources can be found here.
This post was updated July 2023.