We’ve all been there - feeling overwhelmed, confused, thinking we could benefit from seeing a therapist. But only some of us make it through the door and get the help we need. Why is that? Looking for a therapist can be a grueling process.
Searching for a therapist can feel extremely impersonal, leading you from profile to profile on the web only to find yourself lost. The whole process can feel like a massive load - that’s why breaking it down into smaller manageable parts can be a great way to maximize your search. Here are a few tips to consider:
Check in with yourself. I always ask my new clients what they’re looking for out of therapy - what are your goals? What do you want to work on? Is there a specific type of therapy you want to try: individuals, couples, family, etc.? Are there certain qualities you want your therapist to have?
Pro Tip: I suggest taking time to imagine the kind of therapist you want to work with. Write down the traits that feel important to you, and traits that are deal breakers. Ideally what you are looking for is finding a therapist that puts you at ease.
Consider your therapy budget: Therapy is expensive. While I believe it is one of the best investments we can make in our self, there are real financial barriers that can make it hard to do so. Depending on the community you live in, therapy can range from $80-$200 per session.
One option is to consider using your insurance for therapy; it is important to first find out what type of reimbursement, if any, your insurance company offers. If it is a requirement to see someone “in network,” ask for a list of providers and begin looking them up online. Some insurance companies will provide reimbursement for therapy that is '‘out of network'‘ and your therapist can provide you with a “superbill” each month to submit to your insurance.
Pro Tip: Look at your overall spending and see where you can make adjustments. Saving could be as simple as bringing lunches to work and making coffee at home. It is a choice, like everything else, and you must weigh the financial commitment you are willing to make.
Ask people you trust for recommendations: Asking people you trust for recommendations is a great place to start. This could be a friend, family member, colleague or other health professional.
Pro Tip: If you have a friend or family member who is a therapist, they would also be a good person to ask as well. Therapists tend to have reputable colleagues who they can refer you too.
Use the web: The Internet is a great resource for reading about and finding local therapists. Psychology Today and Good Therapy have a comprehensive listing of therapists and allows you to search based on several different factors. All therapists listed in those databases must prove that they have an advanced degree and an up-to-date professional license. You can read profiles or click through to individual therapist websites. Yelp is another great way to search for local therapists.
Interview therapists: Once you narrowed down your list of potentials, it’s time to start making calls. I offer all new clients a free 20 minute consultation to see if we might be a good fit to work together. Pay attention to how you feel on the phone. Do you feel comfortable talking with him or her? Do they sound clear and confident while answering your questions? Is their style of communication relatable? If yes, go ahead and book an intake session at the end of your phone call. Feel free to do this with more than one therapist if you like the idea of “shopping around.”
Pro Tip: Have a few questions prepared before calling, such as:
How would you describe your style of therapy?
What do you charge per session?
What insurance plans do you take?
Do you provide a sliding pay scale?
How often will we meet?
How does therapy work?
Found the right person…now what? Your first session with your therapist will cover a lot of material. You will be asked to share what brought you into therapy, parts of your personal and family history, and the current symptoms you are experiencing. Your therapist will ask you personal questions and, depending on your relationship to vulnerability, this may feel challenging. This is normal and to be expected. Your therapist should never rush your process. Your pace and comfort level must be respected.
“A person’s relationship with their therapist frequently mirrors their relationships outside the therapy office. We often unconsciously recreate dynamics from other relationships with our therapist giving us the opportunity to process negative feelings and work through maladaptive patterns in a safe space. A good therapeutic relationship can be a corrective experience: We are accepted for who we are, encouraged to look inward and connect with our true natures, and supported in growing into our real selves.”
If you live in the Westlake Village Area and are interested in individual or couples therapy I invite you to contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
major credit to The Every Girl for the guideline to this very important post!