Red Flags: Kids in the Crosshairs of Ideological Online Therapy

What do you get when you mix startup culture and therapy?

Since the pandemic, the psychological wellness of the First World has been in freefall. As of 2023, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness and 17 percent of youth aged six to 17 have a mental health disorder.

While the picture is grim, one man’s disaster is another man’s opportunity.

Like an Uber called in just as the bars closed, 2021 saw a global increase in mental health tech funding of 139 percent, reaching $5.5 billion. As they’d say in Frank Herbert’s Dune, “The spice must flow.”

Better Help, Meru Health, Iris Telehealth, and many others have jumped into the gap, providing services such as medication-assisted treatment therapy, psychiatry, addiction recovery coaching, telehealth visits, and more.

One of these therapy startups is VocoVision, a company that proposes to connect schools with educators and therapists. The company says the following in a recent press release:

Mental health services and support over the internet … advocating for therapy to help prevent children from developing a stigma surrounding mental health, build a foundation of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, along with teaching children the emotional and life skills they need to overcome challenges.

It sure sounds great. Citing Kylie Miller, M.A. E.d., they also wanted to highlight how remote psychology services can benefit children, even those without existing mental health issues.

There is no question that there are some great therapists out there, particularly in the older cohort, and there is solid evidence that many varieties of talk therapy are effective, especially when paired with super-therapists. Additionally, kids with actual psychological problems both need and should receive help, but in the current therapy climate, we must demand more clarity about what treatment means and to whom we should deliver even the best of today’s interventions.

If we only look at the current state of care for gender dysphoria in youth, arguably a situation that would benefit from sound psychological inquiry, we have to examine the revelations disclosed in the WPATH files and the CASS review.

In both those collective documents, therapists are shown to be complicit in unregulated experimentation on children and vulnerable adults who clearly didn’t understand the ramifications of the care they were consenting to.

This has yielded procedures including castrations, breast removal, and the prescribing of medicines that result in sterilization and permanent sexual dysfunction affecting thousands of children. All of this happened under the guise of affirming care. That does not even address the lifelong physiological ramifications said children will endure due to these treatments.

These revelations are leading to swift revisions in the standards of care for children and young adults with gender dysphoria in the United Kingdom and other European Countries. But, so far, neither the American Psychological Association (APA) nor the American Counseling Association (ACA) have acknowledged that a course correction is in order. If anything, the APA has doubled down.

Moving outside the domain of transgender care, we have to look at what accreditation boards are demanding colleges teach as good therapy, things like critical race theory and DEI. I can attest from my own experience that if you don’t follow these teachings, you get ushered out the door.

Even looking beyond the accreditation boards to the professional organizations, we find more racist talking points.

Sadly, this is not new territory for the psychological sciences. In the early part of the 20th century, western psychologists were also proponents of eugenics. While it’s easy to agree that this history is worthy of critical review, the bigger irony is that time-tested psychology points the way forward.

It’s established that over-reliance on experts is one of the preconditions for groupthink. We also know that triangulation is a dangerous dynamic that can crop up whenever you introduce a third party into a relationship, even if it’s a therapist. And when that third party is also an authority figure, the potential for damage is terrifying.

History is littered with psychological treatments that may have been well-meaning but instead caused harm. Recovered memories, gay conversion therapy, lobotomies, it’s a bad look, to say the least.

On some level, though, it is understandable for a science that is still so new that its entire history is less than 200 years old, and only in the last 15 years have we gotten around to asking the question, How would we know if psychotherapy were harmful? Much as psychology wants to have all the answers, the uncomfortable truth is that good science takes a very long time to develop, so a dose of humility is in order.

VocoVision may indeed be a reputable company with potentially positive outcomes, but the lack of evidence makes it difficult to make a definitive assessment. What is clear, however, is their limited transparency regarding their treatment methods, their stance on critical theories, and their approach to gender dysmorphia care in children. When questioned by Minding the Campus about these important aspects, they chose not to comment, despite initially showing enthusiasm about providing more information.

Nor does VocoVision provide rock-solid evidence, good enough to clear the replication crisis hurdle, that it’s a good idea to provide mental health care to kids without existing mental health issues.

So, what do you get when you mix startup culture and therapy? More red flags than a rodeo, at least until there is solid proof otherwise.

Photo by Jared Gould — Adobe — Text-to-Image


  • Suzannah Alexander

    Suzannah Alexander was a student in the University of Tennessee's Counseling Master's Program from August 2022 to Jan 2023. She encountered difficulties in commencing her practicum after refusing to renounce her Buddhist beliefs and expressing disagreement with the notion that she should feel ashamed for being white. Suzannah is actively engaged in the fight for the return of her tuition and is dedicated to sharing her perspectives on the counseling field to address and prevent instances of bias and discrimination. Find her on X (@DiogenesInExile) and on her substack at

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