If you’re like most therapists, one of the first things you did when you set up your practice was to put up a profile on Psychology Today. Why? Because if you search for “find a therapist” or “find a counselor,” that’s the first website that comes up, providing a robust directory of just about every mental health practitioner in the U.S. and in other countries as well.
It’s a high profile website with a popular magazine you can find at Barnes & Noble, loads of self-assessments and blog articles about all things psychology related, and a claim to be the only online presence a therapist needs, all for about $30/month. What’s not to love?
Not much, but you should be aware of one very important aspect of their practitioner profiles. It involves that very convenient email button on your profile page that allows potential clients to contact you through a form. It’s a quick and painless way for someone to get in touch with you and get the help they need. The problem is, the contact form that button leads to isn’t secure and HIPAA compliant.
How the email button works and why it isn’t secure
It’s true. The email button on your Psychology Today profile invites potential clients to submit their protected health information, which could be of a very personal nature, in a manner that isn’t encrypted or secured in any way.
The fine print at the bottom of the form states: Please be aware that email is not a secure means of communication and spam filters may prevent your email from reaching the therapist.
This isn’t entirely accurate as email can be considered secure if the right safeguards are in place – such as encryption. An email from Psychology Today may not be secure, but an email from a Hushmail for Healthcare account is secure and HIPAA compliant.
The Psychology Today email button leads to a generic form that submits to the email address of your choice. The message field allows for 200 words. Potential clients could be inspired to include all sorts of private information, unaware that it’s not guaranteed to be kept private or to reach the practitioner.
Even if you set the form to go to your Hushmail address, it won’t be secure. Emails from a client without a Hushmail account must come through our secure message center to benefit from encryption.
Information sent through one of our web forms, however, is always secure.
Hush™ Secure Forms offers a solution
Fortunately, if you’re a Hushmail customer, you already have the perfect solution. Along with an email button, Psychology Today also allows you to enable a website button that links to your website. We suggest that you disable the email button and set the website button to link to your website’s secure contact form that you built with Hush™ Secure Forms.
Or, if you don’t have a website, you can include the link to your secure web form, that we host for you, in your profile description. In fact, even if you have a website, it doesn't hurt to include the direct link to your contact form in your profile. That way, your potential client knows they have an easy way to reach you when they’re ready to connect.
By removing the Email button and directing your potential clients to your secure contact form, you’ll be assured, and can assure your clients, that their communications are confidential. You’ll also know that the messages you receive from Psychology Today leads will arrive in your inbox, not your junk folder.
Get the most out of your Psychology Today profile
Psychology Today is a huge marketing platform for anyone in the mental health profession, and you don’t want to miss out on connecting with such a large audience. As with any marketing platform, however, your success depends on the details. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your profile.
- Keep your profile up to date with accurate information about your practice and a recent headshot.
- Make sure potential clients have a way to reach you securely, either through a contact form on your website or a link directly to your contact form.
- And make sure your website link points to a great looking website that’s easy to navigate. If you need a website or website revision, our partners BrighterVision and EmpathySites would be happy to set you up.
Need a secure, HIPAA-compliant email and web forms account?