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Employee Wellbeing in Focus: Free Psychotherapy as a Workplace Benefit

Let's talk mental health and employee wellbeing

Published on February 29, 2024


Sanja KaranSanja Karan

Filed under culture

A little over a year ago, we introduced free and unlimited psychotherapy as one of the benefits for all Ars Futura employees. Being a part of Ars Futura’s HR team, I must admit, it's been one of my favorite initiatives in the last three years since I joined the company. To mark the anniversary, I've decided to put pen to paper and detail the journey – from idea to implementation, as well as the benefit reception among our team.


Let's begin with the starter kit, the prerequisites when introducing psychotherapy as a benefit in any company:

  • You’ve already fostered the 'people first' mindset

  • You have a management team that gives a damn 

  • You’ve established a culture of psychological safety (a culture in which employees feel confident the employer will not intrude on their privacy with this benefit).

People first mindset

There isn’t an HR person out there who hasn't had a conversation with a colleague where private information or problems were shared. And as an HR person, you can only really listen. There's always a lingering sense of bitterness after such conversations and a desire to help your colleague in some other way, aside from just listening. That feeling is essential for a 'people first' mindset, as I mentioned. Introducing psychotherapy as a benefit requires, above all, genuine care for the well-being of employees in your company.

That's kind of where it all started for us. With discussions about wanting to support our colleagues who are struggling or going through tough times and wanting to talk to someone about it. 

This brings us to another point in the starter kit – "Management that gives a damn".

Management that gives a damn

No benefit that the HR department in any company comes up with and wants to push forward will succeed if we're not on the same page with the management about the kind of environment we want to build for our employees. 

Once we got the green light from our management, we started researching therapists and meeting with them for a vibe check. Ultimately, we selected three who met our criteria. 

We assembled the list of psychotherapists we spoke with based on recommendations. Every member of our Human Resources team knows someone who has been trained in practicing a particular psychotherapeutic approach, so we had sources we trusted.

A mix of objective and subjective criteria guided our final selection. Objective criteria included the desire to have therapists practicing different therapeutic approaches (cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and gestalt) and a combination of female and male therapists available. The subjective criteria relate to how well we know the people at Ars Futura (and since we're still a pretty small company, we know them quite well), and based on that, we assessed which of the psychotherapists we talked with would be most liked and trusted by them. 

Established psychological safety

Honestly, we were a little worried about the number of people that would actually use this benefit. The contract between Ars Futura and the therapists is regulated so that the therapists send an invoice with the number of clients they've seen and sessions they've conducted at the end of the month. Without specifying gender or names, of course. For us, anonymity needed to be guaranteed. Despite this, there was a fear that the benefit might be underused due to the lingering stigma surrounding therapy. Especially as some individuals may worry about the disclosure of their use of therapy services.

Fortunately, those fears didn't come true, and this is where the third point in the starter kit, "Established psychological safety," came to our rescue. 

To deepen our employees' understanding of psychotherapy and motivate those who were still hesitant about therapy, we took a few additional steps. We organized a meeting for the entire company, during which each of our three selected therapists introduced themselves and talked a bit more about the psychotherapeutic approach they practice. The aim was to make our team associate names with faces, making it easier for them to reach out and schedule therapy sessions. Additionally, we added a document to our internal handbook where we elaborately explained Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Gestalt therapy, highlighting how they approach a problem in different ways. Through all these steps, we emphasized the anonymity of therapy and how individual therapy would be a safe space for anyone who chooses it.

Let's talk numbers

When we introduced the psychotherapy benefit a year ago, we had 56 employees (now we're at an even 60). The total number of attendees who went to at least one therapy session with a therapist (although most have attended multiple sessions) is 20. About 30% of the company has tried psychotherapy, and we think that's a really good indicator of the benefit's success. It’s the first (and probably only) time we can say people are just numbers, as all the personal information is 100% anonymous.

Therapy numbers illustration

Another thing to note when it comes to numbers is that we’ve implemented this benefit with an unlimited number of therapy sessions – Ars Futura covers all expenses.

Let's talk feedback

We generally pay attention to how many surveys we send and how often we send them to Ars Futura employees, to inquire about different matters. We don’t want to be overly repetitive, although we genuinely want to know what people have to say about various topics. Because of that, we conducted satisfaction surveys on the psychotherapy benefit only at two points since its introduction (every six months).

The average satisfaction rating with the therapists and the effectiveness of the therapy is 4.42 (out of five), and the comments are really positive.

Therapy Satisfaction Illustration

Here are some of them:

  • “Great initiative! I'm thrilled that such a benefit was introduced without a thousand boundaries, conditions, or limitations, but primarily with trust in the employees. Bravo, Ars Futura!”

  • “I feel an improvement in my everyday life. I am indescribably grateful.”

  • “Since this was my first encounter with psychotherapy, I didn't have any expectations. However, it's now something I look forward to every week, and positive changes are quite visible.”

  • “Therapy is a great thing and I would definitely recommend it to everyone. Especially to those who think they don't need it. :)”


All in all, we’re really happy with how this whole process turned out. It’s a win-win situation – some of our colleagues have a higher quality of life because of this benefit and we have happier employees. We hope it will also come in handy for some who haven't tried it yet if they ever need it. And finally, I'm glad we checked all the boxes from the starter kit so that free psychotherapy and its application truly came to life at Ars Futura.

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