Growing Self Review

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Growing Self

Growing Self

Growing Self

Bottom Line

Growing Self is more expensive than many of the other online therapy companies, but it might appeal to people who like the structure and format of traditional therapy, even if it is online.

Pros
  • Unique online classes offered

  • Free consultation offered

  • You can choose your therapist

  • Sessions are 45 minutes

  • Some sessions availability same or next day

  • Sliding scale of prices

Cons
  • No subscription plans offered

  • Session prices not posted on the website

  • More expensive than competitors

  • Website font difficult to read

  • No text-based therapy options

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Growing Self

Growing Self

Growing Self

Founded in 2009 by a therapist, Growing Self is a Colorado-based online therapy and counseling company that sees clients nationally and internationally. The company is structured like a traditional, brick-and-mortar counseling practice, with virtual and in-person sessions (if you live in a select few cities). You choose your therapist, schedule appointments, and pay for sessions as you go. 

The company’s mission is to help individuals and couples find love, happiness, and success so it focuses on certain types of therapy. Growing Self also tries to set itself apart from its competitors by hiring some of the most qualified therapists and coaches in the field, including four therapists with Ph.Ds.

To fairly and thoroughly review Growing Self against its competitors, we surveyed 100 current users from 33 different online therapy platforms in order to gain insight into their experiences. We also sent a questionnaire directly to each company to get more detailed information about their offerings. 

These surveys and questionnaires allow us to directly compare offerings, quality of service, and client satisfaction across companies. Here’s how Growing Self stacks up against its online therapy competition. 

First Impressions and Sign-Up Process 

Growing Self’s homepage features clean colors and a detailed menu bar, though the web design could use a few upgrades. There are large empty white spaces between text blocks (which appears to be a design choice) but the spaces can give the impression that there are images on the page that aren’t loading. In addition, the font color choices (lavender or light grey) may make the text difficult to read for some users. 

Growing Page
Growing Self Home Page.

There is a ton of information to wade through on Growing Self’s website, but it is easy to get lost if you’re looking for specific information because the page design isn’t always intuitive. For example, the Rates and Insurance page is cumbersome and frustrating to navigate. There is a lot of content discussing the ramifications of not choosing quality therapy, but the actual prices for Growing Self’s services are hidden very far down the page—so far down, in fact, that you might even miss them at first glance. It’s also hard to not feel like the large blocks of text on the page are meant to distract from Growing Self’s relatively higher prices.

In addition, while there is an orange “Get Started” button at the top of each page, as well as multiple “Sign-Up” and “Schedule” buttons across each page of the site, the presence of so many buttons can be a little confusing, especially since the text on the orange button varies. It also makes the overall webpage experience feel like an ad that is pressuring you to quickly sign-up.  

However, it is worth noting that the website does feature a thorough and informative FAQ page, which answers most questions that a potential client might have before signing up. The only problem is the FAQ page is hidden in a drop-down menu under “More Info,” so you can’t easily find it. 

Growing Self Sign-up
Sign-up section on Growing Self's website.

Growing Self

Once you click on one of the orange Sign-Up button, you’ll be taken to an intake questionnaire, where you describe your therapy goals and choose your therapist.

It’s worth noting that even though all therapist bios and their areas of expertise are listed on the website, the bios are pretty short. As a result, it might be difficult to get a real sense of whether someone is a good match for you.

The good news is that you have the option of calling customer service for sign-up, and a representative can walk you through the intake process and answer your questions. There is a toll-free national phone number, as well as an international number. 

Eighty percent of users reported that the sign-up process was either very good or excellent.

Once you’ve completed your intake, you’ll schedule your first consultation session with your chosen therapist. This consultation will help determine whether you and your therapist are actually a good fit and you’ll go over your goals together. 

These free consultations help set Growing Therapy apart from competitors because they give you a one-on-one chance to make sure you like your therapist before beginning therapy.

If you realize that you’re not a good fit during your consultation, you can let the concierge team know and they will help you find a new therapist. You’ll get a new consultation with that therapist as well. The goal is to make sure you are feeling completely comfortable with your therapist before you pay for any future therapy sessions.

Of the users we surveyed:

  • 34 percent said they met with their therapist within the same day as signing up 
  • 36 percent within a couple of days 
  • 23 percent within the same week
  • 7 percent within a week or two

If you want to get started faster with your actual therapy sessions, you do have the option of scheduling a prepaid “Solutions Session.” This is essentially a coaching session, and it can be scheduled the same day or within 48 hours of when you call. This is not meant to be a crisis or emergency service, but it does allow you to speak with someone sooner rather than later if something is on your mind.  

Cost

There’s no denying that Growing Self is more expensive than other online therapy options. This is a company that focuses on quality of services over competitive rates. For some of the users we surveyed, that was an issue. 

Only 71 percent of customers said that they felt like the costs of Growing Therapy’s services were very good or excellent.

Prices

Growing Self does not offer subscription plans, like many of its competitors do. Instead, it is entirely pay-as-you-go, similar to traditional private practice settings. 

Growing Self’s prices are tiered in a similar way to traditional therapy practices. The price depends on the qualifications of your therapist:

  • Newly hired licensed therapists charge $95 per session. They can offer a sliding scale down to $55 per session, which is decided on a case-by-case basis through a conversation with your therapist. This is the standard procedure for determining a sliding scale rate.
  • More experienced therapists' rates begin at $125 per session.
  • Ph.D. level therapists charge $150 per session.

There are no separate prices listed on the website for in-person sessions.

All sessions are 45 minutes long, which is longer than the virtual live sessions offered by E-Therapy Cafe and Talkspace and closer to the length of traditional therapy sessions. The longer sessions are a nice bonus over competitors, giving you more uninterrupted time to dive deeper with your therapist.

Growing Self also offers two online support groups: 

  • One for breakup/divorce recovery
  • One addressing pandemic mental health issues

Each group is capped at six people and meets each Thursday at 6 p.m. Mountain Time. Each group session is 60 to 90 minutes long and costs $40 per person.   

Is There a Free Trial?

There is no free trial. However, you do get a free consultation session with your therapist before you schedule your first session. 

Does Growing Self Take Insurance?

Growing Self is an out-of-network therapy service. The company does not accept direct health insurance payments, but you can seek reimbursement from your insurance company and will provide a receipt upon request. 

Bear in mind, however, some of Growing Self’s services, such as coaching, may not be reimbursable because they may not meet the criteria for “medically necessary” mental health services with your insurance provider. Check with your insurance carrier to make sure they’ll cover your sessions before you schedule them. 

Of the users we surveyed, 84 percent said that they did receive at least some financial reimbursement from their insurance company for services. The average amount they spent per month out-of-pocket was $218.90 per month.

Can you Change or Cancel Your Sessions?

You can cancel or reschedule an appointment for free if you give at least 24-hours notice. If you cancel with less than 24-hour notice, you will be charged the full cost of the session, except in rare emergency or illness cases.

Are There Discounts Available?

Unlike some of Growing Self’s competitors, there are no discounts for first responders, military veterans, or teachers.

However, the company does offer sliding scale rates if you cannot afford the full rate and do not have insurance. To see if you qualify for the sliding scale rates, you have to call a customer service team member. 

Ease of Use

It is relatively easy to book sessions and connect with your therapist once you’ve had your initial consultation at Growing Self. Eighty-two percent of the people we surveyed thought the platform was either very good or excellent in terms of user-friendliness because the client concierge team is always available by phone to help clients with scheduling, choosing a therapist, or answering any questions you might have. 

Sessions with your therapist can take three forms:

  • Video chat
  • Phone call
  • In-person

All virtual sessions are in live-time, just like they would be if you had an in-office session. 

In-person sessions are only available if you live in Denver, Colorado; Broomfield, Colorado; Fort Collins, Colorado; San Francisco, California; or Bentonville, Arizona.

Eighty-five percent of the users we surveyed said the video quality was either very good or excellent, which is probably because Growing Therapy uses Zoom for all video calls.

It is worth noting that you do not have any texting or written-communication options at Growing Self. As a result, you can only communicate with your therapist during their office hours—which might be challenging for some users with busy work or family schedules.

If you want to change therapists, notify your therapist during a session or call the concierge team and they will work with you and your old therapist to help find you someone new. You’ll also receive a new free consultation session with the new therapist. Seventy-nine percent of users said it was very easy or easy to switch therapists. 

Therapists Qualifications and Quality of Care

When it comes to choosing Growing Self, most people we surveyed said that the staff’s qualifications and expertise played a significant role in their decision to sign up.  

Eighty-four percent reported that the therapists’ qualifications were either very good or excellent—which is on par with E-Therapy Cafe and MyCounselor Online.

As of May 2021, Growing Self employs 42 licensed therapists and only one therapist is currently not taking new clients. 

In our questionnaire, Growing Self told us that it requires any therapist providing marriage counseling, family therapy, counseling therapy, or clinical therapy to have a master’s degree or doctorate. The company also requires its therapists to have specialized training, experience, and credentials beyond their degree.

In addition, Growing Self says that “any clinicians seeking to join our group go through multiple rounds of interviews and assessments to ensure that they will be both scrupulously ethical and genuinely effective to our clients.” 

From our survey, only three percent of users met with one therapist at the company so it appears that Growing Self customers either work with multiple therapists or switch therapists a few times before finding the right match:

  • 35 percent said they saw two therapists
  • 38 percent reported they have seen three therapists
  • 24 percent said they met with four or more. 

Types of Therapy Offered

Even though Growing Self offers individual therapy and life coaching, its primary focus appears to be relationships. Many of their services are centered around marriage counseling, premarital counseling, recovering from a breakup or divorce, and coaching for online dating. One of their two group sessions is also focused on breakup and divorce recovery. The company also places a lot of emphasis on self-improvement.

Some of the therapy techniques and services Growing Self offers include: 

Growing Self also offers four educational classes: 

  • Create a Lifetime of Love
  • The Happiness Class
  • Heal Your Broken Heart
  • Find the One: Online Dating Coaching Program

One of the best things about Growing Self is its free resource library for both clients and nonclients alike. You can find these resources on their webpage under the “Free Resources” tab, and they include:

  • A library of blog posts and articles on various topics
  • A free podcast led by founder, Dr. Marie Bobby
  • Free quizzes (you will be asked for your email address to take these quizzes) 
  • Worksheets

There are no psychiatrists or doctors on staff at Growing Self, which means the company does not offer medication management services. If you need medications or medication management services, Growing Self can refer you to a psychiatrist or doctor in your area. 

Privacy Policies

Growing Self uses a HIPAA-compliant version of Zoom for all video sessions, which is both secure and convenient for its clients. 

Charts and records are kept using Simple Practice, which is a HIPPA-compliant and secure electronic medical record-keeping system. Clients can obtain their records or have them sent to another medical professional via telehealth once a release of information is signed.

When emergency services are needed or someone is in a mental health crisis situation, Growing Self refers clients to local emergency and inpatient resources.

There is also a list of national and international emergency service contact information under the “More Info” tab at the top of the main page.

Client Overall Satisfaction

Of the users we surveyed, only 65 percent reported their overall feelings of satisfaction were either very good or excellent. This rate of overall satisfaction was lower than average compared with comparable online companies, such as E-Therapy Cafe, Betterhelp, and Rethink My Therapy.

However, 74 percent of users rated the value of the company very good or excellent for the price. This reflects the quality of therapy given and professional staff.

Eighty-two percent of users who had used other online therapy services said that Growing Self was better or much better than their previous online service. 

Of the users we surveyed:

  • 26 percent said they have been using Growing three to six months
  • 30 percent had been for six to 12 months
  • 26 percent for one to two years

This suggests a fairly low level of attrition at the company, but only time will show whether that holds true. 

Around 87 percent of Growing Self users reported they were either likely or very likely to still be seeing a therapist within the company a year from now, which is lower than the percentage who said the same for other companies. 

Eighty-nine percent said they were likely or very likely to recommend someone like them to Growing Self.

Is Growing Self Right for You?

Growing Self focuses heavily on self-improvement, relationships, and healing from past break-ups. If you want to focus on those areas in therapy, it might be a good company to try. 

The company is also likely to appeal to someone who likes the format of traditional, in-office therapy, but wants the ability to do sessions from home, either because they don’t want to commute or because they like the privacy that online therapy offers. Despite the company being smaller than some of its competitors with fewer therapists to choose from, the therapists employed are highly qualified and trained. 

However, because all sessions are live, it might not be appropriate if you want to communicate with your therapist via text or written format. Your therapist can work with you to help adjust for time zone differences and create a personalized schedule, but depending on where you live (and your work hours), therapy sessions might not be as convenient as with other companies. 

However, because Growing Self is limited to talk therapy and coaching only and does not employ psychiatrists or doctors, the service may not be appropriate for someone who takes medication or might need medication in the future.

Growing Self is not an ideal service for you if you are in crisis, experiencing suicidal thoughts, at risk of harming yourself or someone else, or overcoming addiction. Growing Self is also not a good fit for people experiencing active domestic abuse.

Growing Self vs. My Counselor Online

Growing Self and My Counselor Online have similar operational structures and pricing structures. Both offer online therapy options to both national and international clients; both hire highly qualified therapists with master's degrees and licenses in their practicing states; and both offer in-person sessions depending on your location.

Prices for both services are comparable:

  • Growing Self charges $125-$150 per session depending on the education level and experience of the therapist.
  • My Counselor Online charges $110-$195 per session depending on education and experience level.

Neither company offers subscription packages—you pay-as-you-go for each session. However, both do offer a sliding scale rate down to $55 per session for people who need financial assistance.

Neither company accepts in-network insurance but can offer a receipt for those who would like to seek reimbursement. 

There are some differences between the companies. My Counselor Online is a Christian company and Growing Self has no religious affiliation. Growing Self is also a little larger, with 42 therapists on staff compared to My Counselor Online which has 29. While Growing Self and My Counselor Online both focus on relationship and couples counseling, Growing Self adds classes, group therapy, and life coaching to their service options. 

Growing Self's website is more difficult to navigate and it's harder to find prices than My Counselor Online, though it does have a lot of videos for interested customers. The My Counselor Online website is also easier to read with black font on a white background where Growing Self uses colors. Scheduling sessions with a therapist is relatively straightforward with both companies.

According to our survey, client satisfaction at both companies is relatively similar:

  • 65 percent of Growing Self users said the services were either very good or excellent, while 71 percent of My Counselor Online users reported the same.
  • 91 percent of My Counselor Online clients said they were either likely or very likely to refer someone to the company. At Growing Self, that number was 89 percent. 

Eighty-seven percent of Growing Self users reported they were either likely or very likely to still be seeing a therapist within the company a year from now, compared to 84 percent at My Online Counselor. This suggests that Growing Self and My Counselor Online have similar customer retention rates. 

Of the users we surveyed that had tried other therapy services, 79 percent of My Counselor Online users reported that services were either better or much better than the services at the companies they used before. At Growing Self, 82 percent of users reported the same. 

Final Verdict

If you are looking for an online therapy company that feels like a traditional practice with virtual options, Growing Self might work for you. It’s also a good company for someone working on self-improvement or relationship issues, and it offers you longer sessions than many of its competitors. It is more expensive and doesn’t offer any subscription services, but does offer a sliding scale, though, and because you pay as you go, you might be able to figure out a way to make their services work for you, even if finances are tight.

Methodology

Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. To review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 33 companies and surveyed 100 current users of each.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on:

  • Website usability
  • Sign-up process 
  • Therapist qualifications 
  • Types of therapy offered
  • Quality of care
  • Client-therapist communication options, 
  • Session length
  • Subscription offerings 
  • Client privacy protections 
  • Cost and value for money
  • Whether they take insurance
  • Average out-of-pocket costs
  • Therapist assignment process
  • How easy it is to change therapists
  • Overall user satisfaction
  • Likelihood clients would recommend them

This allowed us to directly and fairly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specs

  • Product Name Growing Self
  • Year Founded 2009
  • Insurance Accepted? No
  • Price $125-$150 per session (standard rate without sliding scale)
  • Hipaa Compliant Yes
  • Platforms Zoom and Simple Practice
  • Payment Options Major credit cards accepted
  • App Available? (Y/N) Zoom App available
Edited by
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health associate editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

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