Joe Borders: Conglomerator of Sacramento therapists
Borders, a licensed therapist, decided to make a better system for bringing clients to therapy.
It can be difficult just to decide you’d like to talk to a therapist—but once you’ve done that, it can be much harder to actually find a therapist who will talk to you. The general action plan is to take to the internet, search for “Sacramento therapists,” place some calls and write some emails. Faced with offices not accepting new clients, unreturned messages and murky insurance navigation, many people are disheartened. That’s why Joe Borders started a therapist listings website for the Sacramento area, sacwellness.com, to make the process easier. Launched in June, it lets clients reach therapists in the area, searching by location, insurance accepted, treatment approach and other factors.
Borders, a licensed therapist originally from Woodland with an office in Roseville, noticed therapists struggling with search engine optimization and clients struggling to find therapists. Something had to be done. SN&R talked with Borders about the process of crafting a community therapy resource from scratch.
What kind of issues do people seeking therapy face?
Usually, people start with how to find therapists … It’s usual for people to only hear back from 20 percent of the people you call … and then you don’t really know anything about the therapist until you call them. That’s part of the aim of the site, is to make information about therapists more accessible so they have more of an idea of what they’re getting into.
How did you get the idea for the site?
Well, basically, right now, there’s a problem a lot of people have where it’s difficult for most people to figure out how to find therapists. Most people don’t really have any kind of general idea of how to do that; they usually just Google around or call their insurances carriers or something. There’s a couple of big international websites that do what I’m doing, but so far there isn’t anything that specifically covers our area.
So I spent a lot of time as a therapist getting my website built, and this seemed like a good thing for the next step.
Have people been referred to therapists through the site?
Yes. So far, we’ve got about 140 therapists lined up. That’s throughout the greater Sacramento area, so those are all therapists people can find on the site. … Throughout November, we had something like 27 emails or calls to therapists.
Those 140 therapists, did you reach out to them individually?
That’s a complicated story. It was a lot of work. I’ve been licensed in the area for four years, and before that I was an intern in the area for four years. And my parents are therapists that have been working in the area for forever, so I’ve gotten a lot of contacts.
But I just kind of reached out to everyone I know, got the word out. I mailed out a bunch of postcards. At some point, when I first started, I got desperate and just randomly emailed 500 different therapists. I’ve cold-called a couple people. It’s been a little slow, but I think it’s going pretty well.
I’ve heard it can be a really trying experience, finding a therapist.
Yes, it’s horrible. … I’ve had people call me sometimes, where they’ve called 10 therapists before they got a hold of me, and only, like, two called them back, and none of them had availability. It’s generally just hard to find a therapist.
Do other cities have similar websites?
The only other thing I’ve seen is I know a guy up in Portland who has one. That’s pretty much the only one.
The site’s name is SacWellness?
Yes. … It’s so funny, when I first started coming up with an idea for a name, I put it on a therapy forum that’s therapists all over the country, and a lot of people were like, “Sac? What the hell is this?” But [I said], “You guys, people in this area will get it.”
What kind of therapy do you practice?
I specialize in working with addiction, couples, teens and the LGBTQ community. But primarily I’m a sex-positive gender therapist.
Have you been in therapy?
Oh yeah, it’s kind of the general rule, you’re supposed to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk. … I always tell people at the very least, you don’t necessarily have to be broken to need therapy. At the very least, it’s a place to check in every week, or every other week, and unpack what’s going on.
Have you gotten any hesitance to sign up from therapists?
Not really. That’s a good question. I haven’t had anyone explicitly or overtly say anything, but I do think there’s a chance that people don’t understand what the value of the site is.
It’s not uncommon for people who take insurance to be full, so they just kind of figure, “If I’m full, then why do I need this?” And then in other cases, a whole lot of people are listed on other sites, like Psychology Today, and they’re like, “That’s working for me, why do I need this other site?”
I’m really trying to find new ways to communicate to other therapists like, “Hey, this is something good for our community that is specific for our area.”