Why We Started GoodTherapy.org
In the fall of 2005, I was in Nome, Alaska, getting ready to go out for a hike when I received a call from a friend who wanted to tell me a story about someone who had been hurt by a therapist. He described the behavior of the therapist as punitive and condescending. The story was quite upsetting; over the years, I've heard too many horror stories about people being mistreated in therapy.
Later in the day, while hiking across the tundra, I made my way to a gigantic rock outcrop overlooking a spectacular view of Norton Sound. It was breathtaking . It was also an ideal setting to think big, and that's when the inspiration struck me. The idea was to create an organization that would advocate for collaborative and nonpathologizing types of therapy and to form an alliance of therapists interested in doing their own, personal therapy, looking closely at their own stuff (to use a clinical term ), and who viewed and treated their clients as fundamentally capable and proficient rather than flawed and deficient.
Although I tried to shake this vision, I couldn't. After a year and hundreds of hours of work, we had our first website built. We tweaked it into shape for months, and finally, in February 2007, GoodTherapy.org was launched. Had I known at the beginning how much work it would entail, I probably wouldn't have done it.
It's been a challenging and rewarding journey. Almost daily, I am touched by different stories from professionals and nonprofessionals about how GoodTherapy.org has helped in ways I never would have guessed. Many visitors to our website have emailed to thank us for giving them the boost of courage and inspiration they needed to seek therapy and healing. I've also received a considerable number of emails from people in therapy who, in part because of GoodTherapy.org's efforts, finally had the confidence to talk to their therapist about something the therapist said or did to hurt them. One client no longer accepted the therapist's response, which was always to turn the concern back onto the client without taking a moment to reflect on her own inner world and the possibility that she was in error. Another inspirational email came from a therapist who was compelled to reevaluate his work and the way he may have misused his power by remaining stuck in the "know-it-all" position with clients. I could relate to that—as it's said, been there, done that.
I know it's a bit grandiose, but I hope that in addition to illuminating the differences between healthy and unhealthy psychotherapy and helping people find trusted therapists, GoodTherapy.org might help the mental health field to rediscover what mental health is all about.
All my best,
Noah Rubinstein, LMFT
Founder and CEO
P.S. Enjoy these photos from our hike up to the tundra: