Hi! For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, you may not know that I’ve been taking a break from my blog and the associated social media pages because of some personal stuff that’s come up. I decided to start seeing a therapist on a short-term basis–a few months–to work through these issues.
Because of that, I feel like it’s appropriate for me to introduce a series I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. This series of posts will cover many different aspects of therapy: how to start, types of therapy, what therapy is really like, and many other relevant topics. Today, let’s start at the beginning: how to find a therapist.
When you first decide to go to therapy, you may struggle to find a therapist that fits within your budget (see #5), that is covered by your insurance, or that feels like a good fit for you. These tips will help you to meet a therapist that is right for you.
1. Ask your primary care physician.
I found my first therapist through my pediatrician when I was in high school. They had a few different psychologists they knew with specialties that matched my difficulties. Doctors know a lot of other doctors and specialists, so this can be a very effective way to get connected with a therapist with minimal effort on your part.
2. Talk to friends (or family).
While I have never found a therapist this way, some of my friends have asked around to find a therapist. If you have any friends in your area that are open with you about seeing a therapist, they can be a great reference to help set you on the right track. Your friends are also more likely to give you honest feedback on what they think of the therapist, and as it’s very difficult to find online ratings or reviews of therapists, this could be a huge asset.
3. Use Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist resource.
This strategy helped me find my current therapist. You can search therapists in their system by location, and further refine your search by type of therapy used, insurance accepted (if any), gender, specialties, and many other categories. However, this resource does not have a complete list of all the therapists in your area, so don’t dismay if you can’t find a good fit from this search.
4. Contact your health insurance company.
If mental health is covered with your insurance, you can call your insurance company and ask if there are any in-network therapists or psychiatrists. This is an easy way to get a therapist that will be at least partially or conditionally covered by your insurance (more on this in a future post), which will help to reduce costs.
5. Utilize “therapists-in-training” at a local graduate school.
Speaking of reducing costs, I have used this method twice now to get affordable therapy access. Many psychology graduate programs have a training program for students that want to pursue therapy as a future career. The huge benefit here is that, because the students are still trainees, they usually offer therapy on a sliding pay scale that is adjusted based on your income or ability to pay. Many other forms of therapy charge $100-200 an hour; I’ve paid as little as $10 an hour for therapy using this method. Plus, the students record the sessions and have to review them with a fully-trained supervisor to make sure you’re still getting quality treatment. If you have any universities or colleges near you, I would definitely check to see if they offer this service.
6. Schedule an appointment with your school counselor or services provided through your job.
Similar to #1, if you are still in school, you can schedule an appointment with a school counselor/psychologist, and they can often refer you to therapists in your area. If you aren’t, many companies have a similar resource, and can refer you to therapists that are in your area and may also be covered by your job-associated insurance. These are often called Employee Assistance Programs, but may go under other names depending on the company.
7. Seek out a therapy center near you.
Although these are called many different things, there are a number of clinics that have many different therapists to choose from. A huge benefit of this method is that they often have a questionnaire to match you with a therapist that will be the best fit for you. If you end up deciding that your first therapist at one of these centers isn’t a good fit, you can also easily switch between therapists without much extra hassle. Using the Psychology Today tool mentioned in #3, I found a therapy center listed in one of the therapist’s descriptions, and got matched with another therapist at that location.
8. Ask other therapists.
You may end up “dating around” when trying to select a therapist. Some people are pickier than others, and you may need to try on a few before you find one that fits just right. If that is the case, be honest with the therapist as much as you feel comfortable, and explain why it wasn’t a good fit. Why? Because therapists generally know other therapists, and that information may allow them to point you in the direction of someone who is more of what you’re looking for. It can also be helpful to bring in a list of other therapists you’re considering, and ask if the therapist has heard anything about others on the list. Therapists of friends or family members may be good resources for this as well.
Hopefully this list is helpful for you if you are wanting to seek out therapy, but don’t know where to start. If you have found therapists by any other method, please leave that in the comments below! If you liked these tips, please consider sharing this post on social media.