Beyond Reimagination: Improving your client outcomes by understanding what big tech is doing right (and wrong) with mental health apps

The Modern Therapist's Survival Guide with Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy

May 30 2022 • 1 hr 16 mins

Beyond Reimagination: Improving your client outcomes by understanding what big tech is doing right (and wrong) with mental health apps

Curt and Katie chat about the big tech “disruptors” in the mental health space and what therapists can learn from their tactics to support clients. We look at who is using mental health apps, what mental health apps are getting right (and wrong), and how therapists can take what is working and work differently to more effectively serve our own clients. This is a continuing education podcourse.

Transcripts for this episode will be available at!

In this podcast episode we look at what therapists can learn from big tech disruptors in mental health

We have seen more and more tech companies and apps come into the mental health space and have heard more and more folks worried about how their private practices will be able to survive. We are revisiting a topic we covered in a presentation at our Therapy Reimagined 2021 conference to help modern therapists navigate this new mental health landscape.

Looking at the gaps in mental health treatment and how big tech is working to “fix” them

  • Exploring the goals from the Rand report on fixing mental healthcare in the United States
  • Mental Health apps (with many broad definitions)
  • Access to lots of different types of services and self-help
  • A one stop shop with a full range of services
  • Direct negotiation with insurance companies

The types of technology used in mental health apps and the risks and benefits of these advances

  • Algorithms
  • Geo location data
  • Complex payment structures
  • Outcomes and feedback

What mental health apps are doing well for clients

  • Getting clients into therapy much more quickly
  • Decreasing costs for consumers
  • Increasing flexibility and availability
  • Not requiring for things to happen in real time (asynchronous therapy)

What mental health apps are getting wrong

  • McDonaldization and commoditization
  • Proprietary treatment methods and incentives for specific worksheets or staying within the app
  • Misalignment between the goals of the client and the goals of the corporation
  • Self-driven, leading to folks to potentially getting insufficient resources
  • Individual versus community focus
  • Caseloads and potential for therapist income (as well as burnout and poor care)

Concerns about the additional risks that can happen with mental health apps

“[In] this profit versus service model… there's this idea that you are not a client, not a patient, you are a consumer and someone to market to. And so you'll be marketed to as a client throughout the app. And as a clinician, you become a marketer for those things behind the paywall. And that is terrifying. Because it's not based on treatment.” – Katie Vernoy

  • The apps are not bound by HIPAA, but instead the SEC
  • Data sharing and Alexa suggesting supplements to address client mental health concerns
  • Additional legal and ethical risks

Who is using app-based mental health services?

  • Therapy veterans are moving to apps
  • Access is not actually improved
  • The reasons that clients are moving from a traditional therapist to therapy apps
  • Outcomes across different types of apps and different types of clients
  • Niche apps are more effective than generalist apps

What we can do to move our therapist practices forward?

“Now I've seen a number of people describe… if these therapy apps are going to be the McDonald's of therapy, well, we're the prime rib! You actually have to consider are you providing actual prime rib? Or are you more like a Carl's Jr?” – Curt Widhalm

  • Using the benefits of technology to decrease friction for your clients accessing therapists
  • Increasing flexibility and creativity
  • Be a better therapist and understanding the digital therapeutic alliance
  • Paying attention to laws and ethics, scope of practice, and treatment planning

Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:

Turning Point Financial Life Planning

Turning Point Financial Life Planning helps therapists stop worrying about money. Confidently navigate every aspect of your financial life - from practice financials and personal budgeting to investing, taxes and student loans.

Turning Point is a financial planning & coaching firm that helps therapists stop worrying about money.

Dave at Turning Point will help you navigate every aspect of your financial life - from practice financials and personal budgeting to investing, taxes and student loans.

He'll help you move through that feeling of being stuck, frustrated and overwhelmed...

And arrive at a place where you feel relief, validation, motivation and hope.

And for listeners of MTSG, you'll receive $200 off the price of any service. Just enter promo code Modern Therapist.

Be sure and visit and download the free whitepaper “7 Money Mindset Shifts to Reduce Financial Anxiety”


OOTify. "OOT" or "uth" (उठ) means "lift up" in the Hindi language. OOTify is a digital health solution that acts as an evidence-based hub to unify relevant mental health resources. Community, Connection, and Collaboration are critical to OOTIFY.  As they lift the mental healthcare system, they ensure providers are part of the process. OOTIFY is a platform for providers, built by providers, and owned by providers. OOTIFY is the process of lifting up mental healthcare, while lifting each other up.

We need to talk about our mental health. We need to make our mental health stronger so we can withstand the things that happen in our life. We're going to go through trials and tribulations. But if we can work on our mental health, proactively, our wellness, we can handle all that as a community and come together. People are more open to talk about these stories and say, “Hey, listen, I'm going through this too.” Do be you want to be a part of the solution by joining a new web three community focused on mental health and wellness? Join the OOTify community as an investor or mental health provider by visiting You can also give us a follow on social media to stay tuned on exciting updates.

Receive Continuing Education for this Episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide

Hey modern therapists, we’re so excited to offer the opportunity for 1 unit of continuing education for this podcast episode – Therapy Reimagined is bringing you the Modern Therapist Learning Community!

Once you’ve listened to this episode, to get CE credit you just need to go to, register for your free profile, purchase this course, pass the post-test, and complete the evaluation! Once that’s all completed - you’ll get a CE certificate in your profile or you can download it for your records. For our current list of CE approvals, check out

You can find this full course (including handouts and resources) here:

Continuing Education Approvals:

When we are airing this podcast episode, we have the following CE approval. Please check back as we add other approval bodies: Continuing Education Information

CAMFT CEPA: Therapy Reimagined is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for LMFTs, LPCCs, LCSWs, and LEPs (CAMFT CEPA provider #132270). Therapy Reimagined maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Courses meet the qualifications for the listed hours of continuing education credit for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. We are working on additional provider approvals, but solely are able to provide CAMFT CEs at this time. Please check with your licensing body to ensure that they will accept this as an equivalent learning credit.

Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

TR 2021: Beyond Reimagination - Moving the mental health field from thought to action (video course)

Thrizer (payment and billing platform)

Economides, M., Ranta, K., Hilgert, O., Kelleher, D., Arean, P., & Hoffman, V. (2019, November 1). The impact of a remote digital health intervention for anxiety and depression on occupational and functional impairment: an observational, pre-post intervention study.

McBain, R. K., Eberhart, N.K., Breslau, J., Frank, L., Burnam, M.A., Kareddy, V, and Simmons, M. M. (2021). How to Transform the U.S. Mental Health System: Evidence-Based Recommendations. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021.

*The full reference list can be found in the course on our learning platform.

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Special Series: Fixing Mental Healthcare in America

Fixing Mental Health in America: An interview with Dr. Nicole Eberhart, Senior Behavioral Scientist, and Dr. Ryan McBain, Policy Researcher, The RAND Corporation

Online Therapy Apps

Why You Shouldn’t Sell Out to Better Help

Non-Traditional Therapy Series: Part 1 and Part 2

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


Buy Me A Coffee

Podcast Homepage

Therapy Reimagined Homepage





Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

You Might Like

Very Bad Therapy
Very Bad Therapy
Ben Fineman and Caroline Wiita
Learn Psychotherapy
Learn Psychotherapy
Sentio University
Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting
Dr. Stephen Cabral
The Ramsey Show
The Ramsey Show
Ramsey Network
Killer Psyche
Killer Psyche
Wondery | Treefort Media
The Mindset Mentor
The Mindset Mentor
Rob Dial and Kast Media
The Murdaugh Murders, Money & Mystery | Unsolved South Carolina
The Murdaugh Murders, Money & Mystery | Unsolved South Carolina
Anne Emerson, Drew Tripp, Daniel Michener, Maxwell Harrison
The Daily
The Daily
The New York Times
Dateline NBC
Dateline NBC
NBC News