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The future of therapy looks a lot like the past—with a little help from tech

A growing Bay Area company called Two Chairs wants to take the stress out of finding and paying for therapy.

"What we saw over and over in the research and literature is that the relationship between the therapist and the client is very consistently the best predictor of outcomes," Alex Katz, Two Chairs' founder and CEO, told Mashable.

Two Chairs is also trying to match patients with therapists who have the right clinical experience and personality for them.

"The gold standard for searching for a therapist today is this notion of speed dating, where you go through a first session with a bunch of different therapists," Katz said.

Katz says the software helps assessors ask the right questions to find the best patient-therapist match.

Even if Two Chairs makes a good match, paying for therapy can be a hassle.

Some people with PPO insurance, however, can file reimbursement claims for their therapy.

Two Chairs figures out what insurance companies will reimburse for a patient, and then actually files the claims for them.

Katz confirms that Two Chairs enforces quotas for its therapists.

Katz says that Two Chairs eventually wants to increase financial access to services.

"In the long run, our mission is certainly to expand access as dramatically as we can," Katz said.

However, like most early technological solutions to medical problems, there isn't objective, data-driven evidence proving that its service is actually improving patient outcomes.

"As we think about how companies can best scale in the mental health space, I think it will be critical to demonstrate clinical efficacy very early on, through robust clinical studies pointing towards actually providing evidence based care," Stotz said.

"[Two Chairs'] ability to match a patient to a provider that they want to stick with would be an interesting data point to look at."

Two Chairs says it is constantly trying to analyze what data points make for good matches, but that a lot of that is still unknown.

As a startup willing to take on the overhead costs of in-person care, Two Chairs is already doing something different than most mental health start-ups.

If it can do those things, Two Chairs has a shot at expanding access to mental healthcare, something too many Americans badly need.

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