In regards to social network online reviews, PCH Treatment Center believes that each consumer has the right to post a review of a service or product that they purchase. There are many online resources for persons to publish reviews. However, consumers, when researching a business, need to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of these reviews, realizing that there are specific problems and inherent limitations related to online reviews of psychological treatment services such as PCH Treatment Center.
PCH Treatment Center encourages each of our clients to provide feedback during their time in treatment through our own quality assurance questionnaire. At the end of treatment, we require that every client submit a lengthy review of our staff, our program, our facilities and that client’s experience at PCH Treatment Center. This information is used to create the most effective clinical experience possible. We use the information garnered from these reviews to improve our quality and services and to give valuable feedback to our staff. Our website contains a large number of testimonials taken (with permission) from client reviews at Client Testimonials.
The difficulties presented in social media reviews are manifold. First, persons undergoing psychiatric or psychological treatment, even when happy with the outcome, are unlikely to post a positive review. Satisfied clients are not emotionally driven to provide an evaluation and they are usually concerned about confidentiality issues. We never pressure clients to write online reviews. The American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code states that it is problematic for psychologists to solicit testimonials
Principle 5.05 “Psychologists do not solicit testimonials from current therapy clients/patients or other persons who because of their particular circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.”
Second, at PCH Treatment Center, we work specifically with certain clients who have emotional dysregulation and anger and impulse control problems. Accordingly, when a client is unhappy with some aspect of their treatment experience or unhappy with financial issues related to insurance reimbursement, an online review site offers an opportunity to act out against limit setting or problems they experienced. Examples include persons that may have violated policies, persons who did not want to be in the program (but attended at the behest of a family member), persons who made other clients or staff feel unsafe, or persons who had problems with insurance reimbursement. If the complaints are legitimate, then the online review is fair game. However, these reviews frequently contain serious distortions of reality and are usually not accurate reflections of our treatment center.
Third, PCH Treatment Center, for reasons listed above, does not receive a large amount of reviews (as a restaurant does). With a smaller number of reviews and lower turnover of reviews in Yelp, the page is poorly representative of our overall success rate. The small number of reviews cannot reflect positive changes we make in an accurate or timely manner. Online review websites also allow fraudulant reviews to be published. A high conflict former client may create multiple accounts or use someone else’s account to publish false reviews.
PCH Treatment Center, as with many other treatment centers, has some negative reviews on Yelp. When we receive a legitimate negative review, we act immediately to resolve the issue(s) with the client or family. Some negative reviews that were written have been taken down because of our expeditious resolution efforts. Some of the remaining negative reviews contain gross inaccuracies, the specifics of which we are unable to discuss or debate in a public forum due to confidentiality issues. Additionally, Yelp uses a filtering process, which has hidden many of our legitimate positive reviews, lowering our average ranking. This “filter” has been a flashpoint for Yelp among many small business owners (1). A class action lawsuit is under appeal regarding this issue, as well (2). It should be noted that most treatment centers have experienced the same difficulties as PCH Treatment Center, and their Yelp pages contain negative reviews.
At PCH Treatment Center, we strive to provide the best clinical care possible for psychological difficulties, at the most reasonable price. We take great pride in the quality of our clinicians and our programs. We always try to “do the right thing” both from a clinical and business perspective. As discussed, we are constantly working to improve our effectiveness using client reviews as our centerpiece. We accept that we are not perfect, but we are constantly striving to provide the best experience possible for both our clients and their families. Thus, it is particularly frustrating to have a few bad reviews paint a negative picture of our center, when the vast majority of our clients and their families are satisfied with our clinical services and feel that PCH Treatment Center has helped them to greatly improve their quality of their lives.