By Felicia DeMatteo | Staff Writer
Like most young adults that are in college or in their early careers, Yuri Tomikawa felt very lost in her career path and simply wanted someone to talk to about it. In our age of technology, it seemed logical to search for clinicians online and Tomikawa came across tons and tons of names. However, she soon hit a roadblock in her search to make a connection. There was no quality vetting of the therapists she found, and there was no indication of what they were like. There was also a lack of information about availability and insurances, which are all very important pieces of a client’s decision of which therapist they want to work with.
“I called and left voice messages, because no one answers the phone. Half the people didn’t call back, and half were full in their practices,” says Tomikawa. “It was difficult to even set up an appointment and I couldn’t see if they were a good personality fit for me.” This difficultly led Tomikawa to found Zencare.co
Tomikawa is a Brown alumnus who studied East Asian Studies and International Relations. She was unsure about her career path, but knew that she has always wanted to help people. When she found her way into the business world, she realized that she wanted to achieve social change and help people through a business.
Zencare.co is a public online platform that makes it very easy for any individual to search for a therapist that the client can be sure is right for them. The site was launched about a year ago. It focuses on Rhode Island in general, but also offers therapists in Providence and Warwick. Zencare also just recently launched in Boston.
“Specifically we started with the university student population,” says Tomikawa. “It makes sense that those are our biggest user-bases because those are the people looking online.”
When a client goes onto Zencare.co, they are able to see many therapists that have various licensure. Each of the therapists’ individual profiles offer information about their practice, experiences, specialties, what individuals and communities they serve, and education. Clients have the ability to see photos of the therapists as well as a video of them speaking about their practice and what they have to offer.
Although counseling centers on college campuses offer help to students, they are a short-term model that is not the best option if a student is in need of long-term intensive care. What’s great about Zencare is that college-aged students are ambitious, tech savvy, and want to take the initiative to decide who they want to work with. College students love seeing photos and videos on social media platforms, and Zencare provides a way to integrate that into finding a therapist.
For Tomikawa, there are three very important aspects of a therapist-client relationship that she was unable to find: Quality, personality fit, and up-to-date information. Zencare vets the clinical rigor, training, and treatment approaches of therapists by completing a vigorous interviewing process.
“We look for clinicians who are passionate about their mission and can help us reach our goal, which is to improve access to care for clients,” says Tomikawa.