7 Easy Steps to Finding a Therapist
So you’ve decided you would benefit from seeing a therapist… now where to begin? Not only is acknowledging the need for help an emotionally draining process, but the thought of beginning therapy can be incredibly daunting. There are many steps between the decision to seek help and your first appointment. Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of finding a therapist is a completely normal reaction. Here, we’ll break down the process into 7 easy steps to finding a therapist. It’s simpler than you think—don’t get discouraged! Get the most out of meeting a professional with these 7 easy steps to finding a therapist that’s right for you.
Right now, many people are exploring telemedicine for the first time. Countless doctors have temporarily shut their doors to in-person visits and begun seeing patients and clients virtually—I see many patients myself this way. If telemedicine works for you, it can be a great way to provide support through life’s ups and downs.
One huge benefit of telemedicine is that options for therapists are greatly expanded when you no longer need to take commuting into consideration (keep in mind some states have laws regarding sessions with out-of-state therapists). Having conversations from the comfort of your own home may encourage progress if physical distance allows you to be more vulnerable.
Follow these 7 easy steps to get the help you deserve:
1. Determine what kind of support you need.
Consider what prompted you to seek help. What do you struggle with? What kind of support are you looking for and what approach might you respond to best? This is a good time to research the many different approaches to therapy. Maybe a friend’s passing has sent you in search of a grief counselor. Or you would like a therapist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help your struggle with anxiety. Find an extensive list of therapies and their descriptions here.
2. Compile a list of potential therapists.
Here are several resources we recommend:
- Contact your healthcare provider for a referral.
- Ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations.
- Contact your insurance provider for referrals or search their website for a database of mental health professionals.
- If a provider is unable to work with you, ask him/her for a referral.
- Use a therapy search website listed below, or contact your state government for their own referral service:
- If you don’t have insurance or are unable to cover the cost of copays, consider:
- Federally Qualified Health Centers, community-based centers that offer mental health and substance abuse services. Find locations here
- A local clinic at a university or hospital that offers clinician-supervised sessions with therapists in training.
3. Narrow it down.
Once you have a few therapists you’re interested in, it’s time to start googling. Search their names to find an online bio or a website discussing their specialties and approach to therapy. Make sure they are accredited by a reputable organization. You might be looking for a therapist who specializes in trauma or someone who has LGBTQ experience. Use this written information to guide you towards the therapist you want to work with.
4. Get in touch
Contact the therapists you’re considering with some quick questions about their work. Here are a few suggestions to guide your conversations:
- What is your availability?
- What is your philosophy and treatment approach?
- What is your area of expertise?
- Do you have experience dealing with blank?
- What should my expectations be for a typical session?
- Can you explain the intervention and how it’s useful to my needs?
- What is the payment process for a therapy session with you? (Some may charge on a sliding scale).
5. Contact your insurance provider.
Many wonderful therapists do not accept insurance coverage; if you’ve settled on one that doesn’t, feel free to ignore this step. If your therapist does, you will need a clinical diagnosis from him or her before treatment is covered—this is usually provided in 1-2 sessions. You may receive a mild diagnosis if you are coping with general issues. When speaking with your insurance provider, talk to a representative who can answer questions about mental health benefits. Below are some questions to ask:
- What kind of coverage do you provide?
- Does coverage include remote video and phone sessions?
- Will you partially or fully reimburse the session?
- How much are copays? (Many providers are waiving copays at the moment due to covid-19).
- What is the process for reimbursement?
6. Prepare for your first session.
Once you’ve gotten your questions answered by your therapist and insurance provider, here are a few ways to prep for your first virtual meeting or phone call:
- Confirm which platform to use and how long sessions are.
- Pick an area with good phone or internet connection.
- Choose a time when you are most likely to have a moment of privacy. If you have kids, this might be when your child is resting or busy doing schoolwork
- Pick a private spot (this could be in the car, closet or bathroom). Try to use the same location every time to maintain a level of consistency and encourage yourself to be in the right state of mind for therapy.
- Get comfortable—bring a pillow, blanket, tissues, water, headphones (in case the audio is lousy and you need privacy) and a calm pet (if you’d like to).
- Have a clock visible so you can be respectful of the time.
- Turn off distractions in order to stay present
- If using a video platform, place your computer on a flat surface, make your entire face visible, and close applications that might slow your computer’s processing power.
7. “Shop” around.
Finding a therapist is a little like dating – begin sessions with the expectation that it’s unlikely it’ll work out with the first person you meet. This should help ease feelings of discouragement. Think about how you feel when you’re in conversation with a specific therapist. Do you feel comfortable, safe and secure? Do you feel that you can trust him/her? How well does the therapist’s traits align with what you’re looking for?
The process of finding a therapist is entirely personal and must be customized to your unique needs and desires. Once you pinpoint what those are, use these 7 easy steps to finding a therapist and you’ll soon be on your way. If therapy is something you’ve considered for a while, take the leap towards a happier and healthier you—you are worth it! With these 7 easy steps to finding a therapist, the process will be simpler than you ever imagined.
Whether you’re new to therapy or you’ve met many therapists before and haven’t found the right person yet, I offer comprehensive brain health consultations to my clients to evaluate symptoms and the root cause of any issues. I use my 5-prong approach to assess clients through physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and energy-focused lenses. This method, along with the contribution of my world-class team of specialists, provides a complete picture of the individual and allows for a diagnosis and treatment options as unique as the patient. If this approach aligns with what you’re looking for, schedule a brain health consult with myself today. There Is A Way!®