About OpenCounseling

Fewer than half the people struggling with mental health receive the services they need. OpenCounseling is transforming mental health by giving people the information they need to find affordable treatment where they live.

OpenCounseling's Mission

At OpenCounseling, we believe that financial and geographic barriers keep far too many people from getting the care they need. People who are already feeling vulnerable are often discouraged when they try to get help but can't find a local therapist who accepts their insurance plan or offers affordable rates. This can turn people away from therapy when they need it the most. 

It doesn't have to be this way. While we believe America needs to invest more in mental health care, we know many affordable options already exist that are unfortunately hidden from view. The internet can be an amazing tool for building community and sharing information, but it hasn't been used to its full potential to serve the public good. We believe information about these options should be more widely available and that it shouldn't be hard to find for the people who need it most. We want to make it easier for people to find and use local mental health resources.


Our History

In the mid-2000s, OpenCounseling founder Mark Pines was working as a therapist in Orange County, California, when he noticed a pattern. He took many calls from potential clients who wanted to learn more about his practice, but not everyone who called was specifically interested in setting up an appointment with him. Each month, several people would call to ask if he knew where they could find free or low-cost counseling.


In fact, he did, and he was glad to help. As a therapist, he had inside knowledge of mental health resources in the area, including programs and facilities that offered affordable counseling. From university training programs to community non-profits, people in Orange County had many options for affordable therapy. The problem was that no one knew about them.


Mark realized he could make this information more readily available by putting it online. In 2009, he created a single-page website listing affordable counseling providers in Orange County. Within a year, the site was receiving 1,000 visitors a month. As the page became an important local resource, Mark realized he could help more people by researching and compiling similar lists for other states. He expanded OpenCounseling to cover all 50 states and five other countries. OpenCounseling currently helps over 65,000 visitors each month find counseling they can afford.


Our Future

From the beginning, OpenCounseling's mission has been to connect people with local therapists they can afford. Early on, we focused on a limited network of resources. These included charitable networks, therapists with sliding-scale fees, and university programs that offered counseling sessions with student therapists for free or for minimal cost. 


As the site gained more visitors, we realized he could do even more. OpenCounseling could be a central hub for information about access to mental health care and an important voice in media coverage of the topic. Our staff started granting interviews to the media and partnering with other sites with a similar mission. OpenCounseling is now run by a staff of researchers and writers who provide more useful information relevant to OpenCounseling's mission. 


Our latest project is to make OpenCounseling even more comprehensive by covering the American public mental health system. Our team was inspired to take on this project after they discovered that information on publicly-funded mental health care was even harder to find than information about affordable care in the private sector. For all the mental health topics covered on the internet in great depth, there were no sites offering straightforward information about how to access the public mental health system. Instead, people have to navigate a maze of confusing and often out-of-date websites, many of which lead to dead ends and 404 errors.


By Spring 2020, the OpenCounseling team hopes to have pages up for every state's public mental health system. Each page will provide an overview of the state's system, how it works, who is eligible to receive care through it, and where they should call to access services. Upon completion of this project, the team hopes to build on the knowledge gained from it to cover larger issues of access to mental health care in America. OpenCounseling also hopes to become even more of a voice and an advocate for people who are seeking but having trouble accessing the mental health care they need.



Press Inquiries

We care about spreading the word about accessible mental health. This includes non-profit, state funded and online counseling. We welcome journalists to contact our CEO, Mark Pines.


Our Team

Mark Pines MA LMFT 
Founder and CEO

Mark Pines is the founder and CEO of OpenCounseling. Mark started OpenCounseling after practicing as a therapist for several years and recognizing the need for affordable counseling. He built the site with the hope that everyone who needed help, would get it.


In addition to heading OpenCounseling, Mark is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Long Beach, CA.



Stephanie Hairston
Writer
Stephanie Hairston is a freelance mental health writer who spent several years in the field of adult mental health before transitioning to professional writing and editing. As a clinical social worker, she provided group and individual therapy, crisis intervention services, and psychological assessments. She has also worked as a technical writer for a medical software company and as an editor for a company that appeals denials of insurance coverage for behavioral health treatment. As a writer, she is motivated by the same desire to help others that brought her into the field of social work and believes that knowledge is one of the most essential recovery tools. She strongly believes in the mission of OpenCounseling and in making therapy accessible for everyone.



Eric Patterson
Writer

Eric Patterson is a licensed professional counselor from the Pittsburgh area who aims to help his clients improve their mental health and lead better lives. For the past 5 years, Eric has written extensively on the topics of mental health and addiction for various print and online sites with the goal of providing accurate and engaging content. Outside of work, Eric loves spending time with his family, listing to indie rock music, and going for long runs in the summertime.



Jason Simpkins
Writer

Jason Simpkins is a writer at Open Counseling. He is a clinical social worker in Michigan and is dedicated to having quality mental health care available to everyone. And as a University of Michigan graduate, he says a hearty, Go Blue!



Jennifer Novack
Writer

Jennifer is a writer for OpenCounseling. She has worked at a number of state and non-profit organizations, providing counseling, training, and policy development



Erik B
Researcher

Eric is a researcher with OpenCounseling. He helps OpenCounseling deliver on its mission to be the highest quality source of affordable counseling.