Meet Elliot Agro, CEO at Children’s Online Therapy Company: Mable Therapy

Elliot Agro - CEO of Mable Therapy (1)

Mable Therapy is the UK’s leading provider of children’s online counselling and speech and language therapy. We provide children with access to expert clinicians through two channels: our school service and our private service.

There’s lots of research that shows that good mental health and communication skills are powerful predictors of a child’s future success. However, many children who need mental health or speech and language support are put on huge waiting lists, don’t meet the referral criteria or are seen by someone with the wrong type of specialism because they’re all that’s available. We’re really passionate about getting these children access to the right support, as soon as they need it.

At the core of our service is ‘The Mable Deck’, our online, video platform which hosts the therapy session. The Mable Deck allows our team to work in new and creative ways, using the platform’s thousands of interactive activities, creative resources, games and tools. We designed the platform to have a careful balance of new and familiar features. The games and activities are new and exciting, yet recognisable tools, such as gifs, emojis, text chat, drawing tools and drag and drop games, give the child an immediate sense of mastery which builds their self-esteem and reduces any anxiety they might have about accessing therapy.

We have over 60 counsellors and speech and language therapists on the team, and they’re passionate advocates for the power of online therapy. 
Speech and Language Therapy Intervention for Schools

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

We started Mable in 2015. Martha was working as a community speech and language therapist at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital and I was a jobbing software engineer. Martha would tell me all the time about how sick she was of travelling around London, creating resources and completing ridiculous amounts of paperwork, and how little time she was spending actually working with the children. I couldn’t believe some of the archaic processes she was describing. I knew that so much time and work could be saved with simple tech solutions and that’s how Mable was founded.

The more children Martha and the therapists worked with, the clearer it became that there was a huge need for mental health support too. In 2018 we expanded Mable by adding children’s counselling to the service. The demand grew and grew and we now have around 30 children’s counsellors working for us. They also use the ‘Mable Deck’ to deliver their therapy, and we’ve developed the software so they’re able to use traditional art and play therapy techniques, but instead of paint and pens we have given the therapists modern tooling such and images, gifs and video which are much more familiar and engaging for children. 


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

Until the pandemic, we were solely a schools’ service. Our counselling service was in its infancy so the majority of our income came from delivering speech and language therapy sessions into schools. When they closed we risked having no income, so we had to think fast.

One simple solution was to support schools to set students up with Mable from home, so the sessions could still take place. This worked really well, but we knew it was unlikely they’d start referring new pupils during such uncertainty, so we needed another revenue stream. Children were at home, struggling with their mental health and in need of support with their communication skills, so it was clear that expanding into the private service was the way forward.

We worked quickly and in April 2020 we marketed Mable to families and began working with private clients. It started small but the uptake has grown so much in the last 16 months that our private service is now bringing in as much revenue as our work with schools.

Lots of traditionalists believed that online therapy was a poor substitute for ‘in person’ interventions. Now people recognise that it improves consistency and accessibility, the outcomes are proven to be the same or better, and for the child it’s a much less stressful experience than having to attend a clinical setting.

In early 2021, global educational leaders Pearson PLC joined forces with us, after recognising the increasing demand for clinical services in schools. We’ve also been on a tireless campaign to raise brand awareness, which has helped the business to grow rapidly. We’ve offered clinical expertise in the Telegraph, Metro, Daily Mail, Teaching Times, Families Online, Medtech and on the BBC and Talk Radio. It’s enabled us to spread the word about Mable, as well as increase awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and communication. 

What can we hope to see from Mable Therapy in the future?

Tech-wise, we’re expanding into intra-therapy tooling, so our clients can access resources and support in between sessions, via the platform. We already have the Mable Academy, an extensive CPD video library for schools, with courses such as ‘Counselling Skills for Teachers’ and ‘The Link Between Behaviour and Communication’. We intend to build on this by creating more written and video content to support the children, parents and teachers we work with.

In terms of expanding the clinical service, we’re lucky to have more and more schools joining Mable each week. Once they join, our clinical excellence combined with our simple software means not only do they stick with us, but they’re spreading the word. We’re going to utilise this growing reputation to expand our schools and private service so that Mable becomes a household name.

We’re proud to be pioneers in online children’s therapy and we’re changing the face of mental health and speech and language support in the UK –  but we want our service to be available worldwide. We’ve begun working with some private international clients, but the plan is to expand the Mable brand globally, so more children have access to the support they need.