I don't know what your path to therapy looked like, but mine started with a lot of procrastination. "I should probably try therapy," I thought to myself for about a year, but I had no idea where to start. I got as far as googling "therapists in San Francisco" before getting overwhelmed by the amount of results that turned up and promptly putting it out of my mind for another three months.
So when I was approached to try out Frame Online Therapy Platform, it felt like a sign. Frame matches you with therapists based on your needs and communication style, so in other words, it does one of the hard parts for you: filtering your options. Frame is also totally free; you don't start paying anyone until you actually start therapy. (Note that Frame is currently only available in California, though the site has plans to expand to other states.)
I tried Frame over the course of a few weeks in 2021 and eventually matched up with a therapist I've been seeing ever since. Here's what my experience was like.
How to Use Frame
As someone who gets overwhelmed easily (see the anecdote above), one thing I liked about Frame was how simple the process was. Signing up was quick and easy, and it's not long before you're viewing your therapist matches.
- Create an account with your email. You can sign up on Frame's website.
- Complete the intake form. As soon as you create your account, you're taken to a three-part intake form. Some of it is logistical, such as specifying if you're looking for couple or individual therapy and providing your general location (zip code). Then Frame asks you to select the reasons why you're seeking therapy and the communication style that works best for you, like whether you prefer structured or free-flowing sessions, or an active therapist versus one who's more passive.
- Browse your therapist matches. After you fill out your intake form, Frame sends you the top six therapists that match most closely with your needs. You can read about their specialties, interests, and approach to therapy on their profiles.
- Message as many therapists as you want. Once you've identified the therapists you're interested in, you can connect with them on Frame's chat platform. This part can be nerve-wracking, but as soon as you open up the chat, there's a Frame message telling you what to do. In my messages, I just told the therapist I was interested in setting up an intro call with them and asked them when they were available to talk. I messaged six therapists and got responses from four of them.
- Set up intro calls. Intro calls are like a 20-minute get-to-know-you talk with a therapist to see if they'll meet your needs. I set up calls with three therapists and, in all honesty, was extremely anxious about each one, but Frame gives tips on what to expect in an intro call to help you feel more comfortable.
- Choose your therapist. Frame makes it easy to turn down the therapists you're not interested in by simply checking a "Not a Fit" box in the chat. I took a few days to think about it, then messaged the therapist that I wanted to move forward with. We then moved off Frame to set up an appointment on her personal website. (Frame doesn't offer therapy directly through its website, so once you choose a therapist, you move to their platform, whether teletherapy or in-person.)
What I Liked About Frame
Frame didn't completely alleviate my anxiety about finding a therapist (and I didn't expect it to), but it definitely helped. This platform did a lot of the scary work for me and provided tips and guidance for the tasks it couldn't complete, like doing intro calls or messaging with therapists. Here's what I liked about my experience with Frame:
- Frame streamlines what's usually a complicated and intimidating process. Frame took a big and scary task — finding a therapist — and broke it down into a series of simple ones: fill out the questionnaire, browse therapists, start messaging, do an intro call. Instead of locating therapists on my own and setting up calls through separate websites — which is a lot of anxiety-inducing work — I only had to use one platform and received guidance through each step.
- It has helpful articles and advice for parts I was worried about. In addition to the matching and messaging platform, Frame offers articles on the more nerve-wracking parts of starting therapy, like how to prepare for an intro call and what to expect during your first therapy session. These articles are often written by or include interviews with therapists, and it was convenient that they were featured right on the platform.
- You're not starting from scratch. Finding a therapist is difficult, and an algorithm won't be able to tell you how your personality will mesh with someone else's (no matter what the dating apps tell you). But I liked that Frame did the initial sorting for me, because I knew that the therapists I was considering were at least capable of addressing my needs, even if our personalities didn't end up meshing. It gave me a verified and more personalized list of options than I'd find on Google.
- Frame is free. It's free to sign up for Frame, message with therapists, and do your intro calls. You don't pay for anything until you actually start therapy (when you pay the therapist directly).
Did Frame Work For Me?
I connected with my therapist on Frame and have already had several sessions with her, and so far, it's going well. I chose her out of the three intro calls I had, and while I feel like our communication styles matched up the best, it's a testament to Frame's matching system that I could've seen myself with any of the three therapists I spoke to.
Before trying Frame, I was so anxious about the process of finding a therapist that I'd been putting it off for months. I'd built it up in my head to be this long, impossible thing that I didn't even know how to start, which is why Frame's approach worked well for me. Every step was small, simple, and low-stakes: if I decided I didn't like a therapist, I could end the conversation at any point, before or after an intro call. And it didn't feel like I was doing this all on my own, trying to figure out this process by myself. There was always a set of instructions or an article to guide me through the next step, offering extra help without being overwhelming.
Frame worked for me, and I've already recommended it to some of my friends who are looking to try therapy for the first time. For anyone who feels lost when it comes to starting therapy, not even sure where to begin looking, Frame is worth a try.