How to Find a Therapist
Finding a therapist can be a daunting task! Putting your mental well-being into the hands of someone is a big deal, and you want to make sure this person knows what they're doing. Below is a tutorial that will help educate you about the world of therapy and therapists, and hopefully will make this decision as easy and effective for you as possible.
Know What You're Looking For
The first step in this process is to have some idea of what you are looking for and why you are looking for a therapist. What has happened recently that has lead you to seek therapy? What are the main issues that are bringing you to therapy, and what are your expectations for how therapy might help you?
Can you narrow down your list? Maybe you know you could only work with a male therapist, or know how old they need to be? Maybe it's imperative they specialize in something. Maybe their office needs to be located near your home or work and be open during specific hours.
For many people, the cost of therapy is a large part of their decision. In the Pasadena, CA area, therapy cost varies greatly. You can spend up to $200+ for a 50 minute session. Many factors determine what therapists charge including their degree (MA, PhD, PsyD), license (MFT, Psychologist), how many years they have been in practice, overhead costs, their philosophy on the value of therapy. Know what you can afford before you call. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on a weekly basis and go from there. Many therapists offer a sliding scale based on financial need.
Are you planning to use insurance to pay for your therapy? Don't rule out therapists that don't take insurance just yet! Keep in mind that many therapists, and usually the most experienced, don't take insurance. There are many reasons for this including wanting to protect patient privacy, avoiding low reimbursement rates for mental health, and wanting to keep decisions regarding client care out of the hands of large insurance companies. Many therapists do provide a monthly statement of your therapy expense that can often be submitted to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Once you've figured out all of the above, it's time to start looking. A great place to start is to ask friends, family members and other acquaintances for a referral. Ask your massage therapist, hairdresser, doctor, chiropractor, teacher, etc. Who do they see, what do they like about that therapist and why?
It’s becoming increasingly popular to look for a therapist on the Internet. But how can you tell if a therapist is any good by reading their bio or looking at their picture? What are important things to look for?
Here are some important tips to help you find the perfect therapist. Keep in mind that research tells us that it is a therapist’s ability to build a genuine, trusting and meaningful relationship that is most likely to lead to client satisfaction. It has less to do with their training, orientation, or degree level.
1. Use the therapist finders (psychologytoday.com, goodtherapy.org, networktherapy.com etc.) to locate therapists in your area.
2. Limit the list to things that are must haves: gender, age, rate, location, availability, insurance coverage.
3. Make a short list of at least five therapists and call them. How do they sound on their outgoing message? Do they return your call promptly? Do you feel comfortable with them on the phone? Ask them questions about their practice, how long they’ve been practicing, do they specialize in anything? Give them an idea of what you would be coming for and ask for their input.
4. Set up introductory sessions with at least three therapists. During these sessions see how you feel. Are you comfortable, is this the kind of person you can see yourself spilling your guts with, do you feel respected and important? A good therapist will make you feel heard, understood and hopeful in that first session. If you aren’t feeling this right away, move on!
5. Sleep on it. We tend to make good, solid decisions after a good night’s sleep. Pick your therapist and make your first appointment!
And that’s it! While it’s not always necessary to be this exhaustive, this is a sure fire way to find the therapist that is most likely to meet your needs. Just keep in mind that the key ingredient is your comfort level. If you don’t feel safe right away, chances are you won’t, and looking for someone that does can save you a lot of time, and money!
Good luck, and feel free to call or email if you need help or referrals.