Visuals              About

Theratree 🌿

an inclusive plan and app design to help people better navigate therapy

Role              Product Design
May—June 2020

the challenge

Giving and receiving therapy is not always an equitable experience. Many people quit their treatments because they cannot financially afford therapy copays and/or do not have the time for weekly sessions. Meanwhile, therapists are often acting in a deficit because they have to do case work on unpaid hours and mental healthcare is generally underfunded in the U.S. I designed an app that addresses the pain points of both the therapist and the client to provide an experience that is affordable, personable, and efficient.

how I worked to solve it

empathize 🔎️

In order to understand the problem, I conducted interviews with mental/behavioral health practitioners and their clients. I enjoyed talking to them and ended up learning so much more about the mental healthcare/psychiatric care system!

Some questions I asked

  • (To client) Are you receiving therapy for your mental health disorder—why or why not?
  • What is enjoyable about receiving/giving therapy?
  • What is frustrating about receiving/giving therapy?
  • What would you change (if anything) about your therapy experience?

Creating empathy maps from both the client and the therapist perspective helped me visually summarize the qualitative data recieved from the interviews. 

Based on my findings, I was able to make parallels between the therapist and client’s goals, giving me a clear direction in defining the problem statement.

define 📌️

who am I designing for?
Although I noticed that both the client (user) and the therapist (business) intersected on their main goal, they each had needs that were potentially in opposition with one another. For instance, it felt like a challenge to achieve affordable care for the client while making sure the therapist is fairly compensated and feels valued for their service. Initially, it felt more intuitive to focus solely on the client’s goals since the need for accessible mental health care is so apparent. However for this design to be truly inclusive, I wanted to prioritize both of their needs equally.

Two user personas emerged that were fitting of this client-therapist paradigm.

problem statement

how might we help clients afford access to care and better navigate their therapy journey while mitigating the burden of unpaid work on mental healthcare providers?

ideate 🖌️

After defining the scope, I broke down the problem statement into several “how might we” questions so I could link them to possible core features of the app.

This brainstorming activity further helped shape my design decisions.

I was then able to make wireframes that show separate views of the app—a therapist view and a client view—both with their respective features.

design 🧩

The final design solution is an app + therapy plan that is affordable, personable, efficient, and inclusive of both the business and client needs. Since mental health is now beginning to be considered as important as physical health, I wanted to create a user interface that was reminiscent of a personal training app—making users feel empowered to be in control of their therapy journey or practice.

style guide

From my understanding of Color Psychology, a green color palette evokes a sense of positive vitality and sustainability which alludes to the importance of healing when it comes to mental health. The illustration of the tree losing its leaves represents the process of regrowth after a tough time. A sans-serif font with wider counter spaces helped tie the design together—it’s readable and gives a modern feel.


Client View
Therapist View


It was important that I compared this therapy model with existing models. Assuming that regular sessions are once a week, insurance copays cost $15-25/week on average—which only works for clients who are able to afford it and have insurance. With private pay, therapists are happy that they have more control over their practice, but many clients cannot afford such high costs especially if they are seeking long-term, regular therapy.

The theratree plan would have once a month sessions at a more affordable price. With the added benefit of intuitive and streamlined case management, therapists would have more time to take in more clients instead of doing loads of case work on unpaid time.

reflect 💭️

This was one of my first product design projects and although it was challenging to build and plan an app for both a client and business, I enjoyed being thorough in my ideation and learning more about how the behavioral health industry works.

what would I do differently?

user testing
Looking back at my process, user testing was definitely missing. Ideally, I would be able to test if this app could work effectively for the targeted user audience and from there I could iterate and further shape my design decisions based on quantative data.

competitive analysis
Since working on this design solution, the problem space has changed quite a bit —there have been advancements with online therapy apps in the market that promise affordable care. It would have been useful to do a competitive analysis of different therapy apps that are trying to solve the same problem.


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