SonderMind Interview with Dir. of Clinical Strategy, Wendy Rasmussen, PhD.

It’s no secret that online dating, romance, and relationships can have a profound effect on an individual or couple’s emotional health. Recent research conducted here by our Healthy Framework team shows that 79% of adults experience emotional fatigue from using online dating apps. And even further, nearly one in three adults have sought professional help as a result of using online dating apps.

This led our team to explore what therapy option exist for singles, what they can expect, and how to get connected with someone who can help. In our most recent interview series, our own Matt Seymour sat down with Wendy Rasmussen, PhD., the Director of Clinical Strategy at SonderMind. SonderMind is a large online therapy provider helping to reach people and singles in the most convenient way possible.

In today’s interview, Matt and Dr. Rasmussen talk about the differences between in-person and online therapy, how the company specifically serves singles, and even how the company is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in its mission to serve people.

Let’s get into the interview.

Wendy Rasmussen, PhD. – Director of Clinical Strategy at SonderMind

Full SonderMind Interview Transcript

Matt Seymour: I’d love to have you start by sharing with us a few ways SonderMind specifically serves singles and those in romantic relationships.

Dr. Rasmussen: At SonderMind, we match both individuals and couples with therapists whose experience and approach are the right fit for them. From helping resolve relationship issues to rekindling the romantic spark, to putting yourself out there in the dating world, individual and couples therapy can provide a wealth of benefits to singles, dating and married couples, and those in non-traditional relationships.

Therapy can be incredibly helpful with improving your communication issues and skills, which is often the number one problem in most relationships.  In fact, 70% of people who undergo couples therapy say that it positively impacts their relationships and well-being. 

With SonderMind, individuals and couples can use advanced tools to find the ideal therapist for their preferences and needs. Based on your responses to a short questionnaire, SonderMind will match you with several online or in-person therapists to choose from, that are suited for you and take your insurance. 

Matt Seymour: People obviously have a lot of options when it comes to therapy. Are there any aspects of your services that make you stand out as a better choice than the other options out there?

Dr. Rasmussen: SonderMind provides accessible, personalized mental healthcare that produces high-quality outcomes for patients. We have an individualized approach to care that starts with using innovative technology to help people not just find a therapist, but find the right, in-network therapist for them. From there, SonderMind’s clinicians are committed to delivering best-in-class care to all patients by focusing on high-quality clinical outcomes using tools like Measurement Based Care (MBC). Measurement Based Care involves the individual or couple, asking you to regularly engage in questionnaires to track your progress, and you can engage with your therapist to discuss what is or is not working in your course of care. And of course we have therapists who work with folx in different types of relationships.

Matt Seymour: The idea of online therapy vs. in-person is still relatively new. Are there any advantages or disadvantages people considering it might want to be aware of?

Dr. Rasmussen: Choosing the therapy format that is right for you depends on your individual preferences and needs. Ask yourself: Are you more comfortable in your own home or personal space? Are you comfortable with using a laptop or computer and talking to your therapist virtually? Or do you prefer to meet in person and have a face-to-face interaction with your therapist? Oftentimes scheduling and driving across town to a therapist can be hard for people with busy schedules, so online therapy is a good option for them. At SonderMind, we can help you identify what the best form of therapy is for you. We’ve seen people adopt a hybrid model where they have a mix of in-person and video sessions. What’s key to your success in therapy is your commitment to sticking to the treatment plan recommended by your therapist, doing the work in between sessions, and using the skills you learned during therapy outside of therapy. 

Matt Seymour: We’ve heard from quite a few singles who still buy into some of the stigmas and stereotypes that may make them hesitant to use therapy. What would you say to someone struggling who is hesitant to reach out for help?

Dr. Rasmussen: I think it is important to remember that going to therapy takes strength and courage, and that it can have a wide range of benefits for everyone. You don’t need to have a serious mental health issue to benefit from therapy, everyday challenges like stress and relationship issues are some of the most common reasons people seek help. Thankfully, there is less of a stigma around mental health these days, and people are more open to talking about their experience with getting help, from athletes, to musicians to even your own friends. All therapy is confidential, and with the growth of video therapy, you can access it from the privacy of your home.

For singles in particular, therapy can be a great way to clarify what you’re looking for in dating or other relationships. Your therapist can work with you on ways to help you get out there and meet new people. Social anxiety is the second most common form of anxiety and often hinders people from exploring the dating scene. A SonderMind therapist can work with you on ways to manage things like social anxiety and get you to a place where you feel comfortable to put yourself in new situations.

Matt Seymour: Have you seen any changes in the number of people reaching out for therapy as a result of dating or using dating apps?

Dr. Rasmussen: Maybe not specific to dating apps, but we have seen an uptick in people considering therapy as stigma has decreased and accessibility has improved. While social media gets a bad rap for the potential negative impacts to mental health, it has made talking about one’s mental health and other related topics (eg. self-care, setting boundaries, mindfulness) a normal part of many conversations.

Matt Seymour: We’ve seen AI being used in a lot of industries recently including the healthcare industry. Is your company using AI in any way? If not, do you have any plans to use it in the future?

Dr. Rasmussen: We are leveraging AI and machine learning (ML) technologies to better understand how we can deliver uniquely tailored end-to-end mental health journeys for everyone. We’re starting with better matching of clients to therapists, but I’m incredibly excited for how we can use it to advance effective, personalized treatment. We have partnered with a company called Hippocratic AI, which is building a healthcare-first LLM, prioritizing the privacy and security needed when using AI in a healthcare setting.

Matt Seymour: Do you foresee any changes to the online therapy industry coming (good or bad) as a result of AI?

Dr. Rasmussen: At SonderMind, we see incredible potential for combining high-quality, human-delivered talk therapy and psychiatry with technology like AI to deliver increasingly personalized, objective, and effective care, no matter where you are on your journey. Critical to us is that the therapist or psychiatric provider is always a part of care delivery and will never be replaced by technology. Rather, tools like AI can make getting into care easier, or help clinicians prompt clients to try a meditation tool or brain training exercise. 

Matt Seymour: Is there anything else about SonderMind you’d like to share with our readers/viewers? 

Dr. Rasmussen: Whether you are single, newly in a relationship, or have been married for the last 50 years, engaging in therapy can be an incredibly beneficial activity. At SonderMind, we engage with the University of Denver to research our therapy outcomes. Researchers have found that SonderMind clients see improvements in anxiety and depression in approximately 6 sessions, compared to industry trials that saw improvements in 12-16 sessions. At SonderMind, we can help you get better, faster.