- What is the Secular Therapy Project?
- Why is The Secular Therapy Project needed?
- Why do we need a registry for secular therapists?
- How does the registry work?
- As a client, is my confidentiality guaranteed?
- As a therapist, will my information and identity be protected?
- What should I put into my profile?
- As a client, will my information be confidential?
- How do I know a therapist is qualified to help me?
- What if there is no therapist in my immediate area?
- How do I know what the fees are for a therapist and how to pay them?
- How can I help The Secular Therapy Project?
What is The Secular Therapy Project?
A platform that allows people seeking mental health services to search for secular therapists, who are non-theists who use research supported, evidence-based, state-of-the-art therapeutic methods that do not involve supernatural or religious elements.
Why is The Secular Therapy Project needed?
Many secularists, atheists, humanists, and other non-religious people complain that they have great difficulty finding mental health professionals who are secular. While being religious in no way means someone cannot be a good therapist, far too many therapists integrate or insert spiritual, religious or New Age ideas into therapy, even when they know their client is not religious. This is not only offensive to those who wish to distance themselves from supernatural solutions to real life problems, but unethical. Many private religious universities are graduating psychologists, counselors, 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 often not easily identified, as too many therapists must stay closeted or risk losing large amounts of business and referrals.
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. However, it is difficult to find a therapist who is openly secular or atheist. Therapists often have a majority of people in their practice who are religious and might not use their services if the therapist was known as a secularist. In some cases religious organizations such as churches may make referrals to therapists and such sources of referrals might dry up if the therapist were widely known to be an atheist.
Some therapists also have spouses whose businesses would be hurt or destroyed if the therapist was known in their community as an atheist. For these reason, therapists are not free to advertise that they are secular without endangering their practice or their families.
How does the registry work?
When a therapist registers with the project, the information is vetted by a team of qualified evaluators, all practicing and licensed mental health professionals. If the evaluators are satisfied that the therapist is a) appropriately licensed in their state or country, b) using evidence-based practice, and c) secular themselves, then they are put into the registry as a resource for potential clients.
When a potential client wishes to find a therapist, they register on the website, and then search for a therapist by putting 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 Therapy Project is no longer involved.
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 limited funds, and although 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.
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.
What should I put into my therapist profile?
Put as much or as little as you like into your therapist profile (see the instructions for therapists on the Therapist Application page). Evaluators will use the information you give us to determine if you meet our three criteria If you give us too little information, we will be unable to make a reasonable determination and may need to contact you for further information.
If you have a website describing your practice, we want 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.
As a client, will my information be confidential?
If you are using our system to find a therapist, we will only need an email and zip code from you so that our system can communicate with you and help you search. You can reveal as much or as little as you like in your communications with a prospective therapist.
How do I know a therapist is qualified to help me?
We cannot make any assurances about therapist qualifications or experience. We do try to screen therapists as thoroughly as we can, 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.
What if there is no therapist in my immediate area?
Some therapists will do distance counseling (sometimes called telehealth). While face-to-face therapy is generally more effective, distance counseling can also be effective in many cases. Within our list of therapists, we will list those who are willing to do distance counseling.
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, payment methods, and insurance requirements. We are not involved in that part of the process.
How can I help The Secular Therapy Project?
You can help us in three ways:
- Help us find secular therapists who want to register with this service, give them our web address and encourage them to apply.
- Let secular people know about the service and encourage them to search the Secular Therapy Project before selecting a therapist for themselves or their family.
- Donate to our parent organization, the non-profit (501c3) group Recovering from Religion. Your donations are tax deductible, and all money donated to the Secular Therapy Project will go to support its continued development and outreach to the secular community.