What is The Secular Therapist Project?
It is an effort to connect secular therapists with clients who prefer a therapist that will use proven, state-of-the-art therapeutic methods that do not involve supernatural or religious elements.(return to top)
Why is The Secular Therapist Project needed?
Many secularists, atheists, humanists, etc. complain that they have great difficulty finding mental health professionals who are secular. Far too many therapists are spiritual, religious or use New Age ideas in their therapy. This is offensive to those who wish to distance themselves from supernatural solutions to real life problems. Many religious schools are graduating psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers who have a religious agenda and all too often seek to steer people back into religion. Courts have even been known to refer people to so-called “Christian Counseling" centers because of a lack of awareness of nearby secular resources. In small or rural communities, even when there are secular resources available, often they are not easily identified.(return to top)
Why do we need a registry for secular therapists?
In searching for a therapist, one can easily find Christian counselors and other therapists who espouse a spiritual or religious worldview in their practice. At the same time, it is difficult to find a therapist who is openly secular or atheist. Therapists often have many people in their practice who are religious. These people might not use their services if the therapist was known as a secularist. In some cases religious organizations make referrals to therapists. These sources of referrals might dry up if the therapist were widely known to be an atheist.
Some therapists have spouses whose businesses would be hurt or destroyed if the therapist was known in the community as an atheist. For these reason, therapists are not free to advertise that they are secular without endangering their practice or their families.(return to top)
How does the registry work?
When a therapist registers with the project, the information is vetted by two qualified evaluators. If the two evaluators are satisfied that the therapist is committed to using secular methods without reference to the supernatural or non-empirical methods, then they are put into the registry as a resource for potential clients.
When a potential client wishes to find a therapist, they go to the website and put in their zip code. The site will then provide them with a list of therapists in their area, and allow them to contact one or more of those therapists entirely from within the site. They can provide as exactly as much or as little detail as they wish in their messages to potential therapists. All the therapists in the registry have pledged to respond to initial contacts within 48 hours.
Like many popular dating sites, minimal information about prospective clients and therapists is provided directly through the system. Instead, clients can talk with prospective therapists until they feel comfortable moving forward, at which time the therapist can provide outside contact information, such as an email address, phone number or website. At that point, the Secular Therapist Project is no longer involved.(return to top)
As a client, is my confidentiality guaranteed?
No, we cannot make that kind of promise. What we do promise is to use reasonable methods to keep all information confidential until you are ready to reveal your information to a therapist. We are a non-profit organization with extremely limited funds. Our service tries to use reasonable methods to prevent disclosure or hacking of information, but we cannot make any airtight promises. The system is set up to allow you to communicate directly with a prospective therapist without revealing your email address. The therapist has no way to contact you outside of our system and has no information about you except what you tell her or him.(return to top)
As a therapist, will my information and identity be protected?
We will do our best to protect your information until you decide to reveal it to a prospective client. You can reveal as much or as little as you like to a prospective client through our system. For our part, we will only reveal what you put into your profile or send through our contact system. We cannot be held responsible for any inadvertent information you might say or send through our system. For example, you may inadvertently say something in a communication that would reveal where you are located or some personal detail that would give away your identity. We cannot be held responsible for any communication between you and a prospective client.
In addition, we will only collect information that you put into our system. If you don’t want someone to know something about you or your practice, do not put it into this system.(return to top)
What should I put into my therapist profile?
Put as much or as little as you like into your therapist profile. Evaluators will use the information you give us to determine if your therapeutic approach is in fact secular. If you give us too little information, we will be unable to make a reasonable determination.
If you have a website describing your practice, you may want us to look at it. We will definitely need an email and a phone number. These will not be part of your profile or anything that a prospective client can see. You are welcome to use an email that is not easily associated with you such as a Gmail or Yahoo address to add a layer of identity protection.(return to top)
As a client, will my information be confidential?
If you are using our system to find a therapist, we will only need an email from you so that our system can communicate with you. You can reveal as much or as little as you like in your communications with a prospective therapist. We will not keep, store or save any communication between you and a prospective therapist.(return to top)
How do I know a therapist is qualified to help me?
We cannot make any assurances about therapist qualifications or experience. We try to screen therapists but time and practical considerations make it impossible for us to provide any kind of quality assurance. We would advise you to look carefully at a therapist’s qualifications, licenses, etc. once you have made a connection and the therapist has provided you with their contact information. We also welcome feedback on therapists that you found through our system.(return to top)
What if there is no therapist in my immediate area?
Some therapists will do phone or video counseling. While face-to-face therapy is generally more effective, phone counseling can also be effective in many cases. Within our list of therapists, we will list those who are willing to do phone counseling.(return to top)
How do I know what the fees are for a therapist and how to pay them?
Each therapist sets his or her own fee structure and payment methods. We are not involved in that part of the process.(return to top)
How can I help The Secular Therapist Project?
You can help us in three ways:
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- Help us find secular therapists who want to register with this service.
- Let secular people know about the service and encourage them to check it before selecting a therapist for themselves or their family.
- Donate to the Therapist Fund. The Secular Therapist Project is a part of RecoveringFromReligion.com and a non-profit 501c3 organization. Your donations are tax deductible. All money donated to The Secular Therapist Project will go to support its continued development and to reach out to the secular community.