How to Find the Right Therapist for You
Mental health has become a hot topic issue and many people are recognizing the benefit from having a therapist to support and help them through tough times. However, when I meet with a client, one of the things I often hear is that finding a therapist was daunting and they struggled through the process. It makes me think about people who didn't persevere through and gave up before finding a great match. If you're that person, this blog is for you, because IT CAN BE DONE!
Many clients struggle to find a therapist because they don't know where to look. This question has multiple answers based on the clients' needs. If your first priority is finding someone who accepts your insurance, it can be difficult and overwhelming. Here are the first steps I would recommend.
1) Contact your insurance company and get a list of in-network providers. Most insurance companies have lists of people that are in-network and can provide you the names of these providers. Please note, they aren't always up to date. In other words, some of the providers on the list might not be accepting new clients, or they might not be accepting that insurance and the list is out-dated (this is rare but does happen).
2) Talk to your doctor or other people/friends in your community. You'd be surprised how many people either are or have been in therapy and you can get great referrals from your peers. Physicians, pediatricians, psychiatrists, chiropractors, teachers, etc are all great resources as well. 3) Google- Google can be your best friend. Searches like, "Therapist in Michigan that accepts BCBS" can yield results. Platforms like Psychology Today and Therapy Den can also allow you to search through therapists by insurance type.
What if I don't have insurance or want to private pay?
If you don't have insurance, or you prefer to pay privately, you're on the luckier side of the spectrum for a variety of reasons I'll outline below. Private pay opens up a lot of opportunity for not only finding a therapist but finding a really great one for you. So how do you find them? 1) Therapy directories like Psychology Today, Mental Health Match and Therapy Den are great resources. You can utilize these much like any other search engine- think of it like Petfinder for therapists. You search for someone in your area (or telehealth) and scroll through profiles to find someone who stands out to you.
2) Google- Google can be your best friend. Search, "therapist in ____" and you'll find profiles, websites, articles, etc. While it can be overwhelming to scroll through so many websites/profiles, it gives you a plethora of people to look through to find a good match. 3) Again- talk to your peer groups/support team. As stated above, this can be a great way to find a therapist.
4) Social media- this one can be tricky. Not all therapists use social media, and not all therapists on social media are great. But if you are lucky enough to find someone who catches your interest, it can be a good resource.
Benefits of Private Pay Therapy
If you're on a budget, or you simply want to utilize your insurance, finding someone in-network might be the most important thing to you initially. However, it's really important to recognize that the "right" therapist for you might not accept your insurance, and here's why I think you should still consider a private-pay only therapist. 1) Control over your treatment- insurance sucks. It just does. So many hoops to jump through, often times limits or prerequisites for getting to therapy, and PAPERWORK. When you see a private pay therapist, you skip all this bullshit and go straight to the good stuff.
2) Flexibility- Most insurance companies post-COVID pay for telehealth services through platforms like Zoom, but they don't typically approve phone sessions. They also may limit the number of sessions in a week or time spent in a session (a billable hour for most insurances is up to 60 minutes) Some clients prefer the flexibility of being able to be seen as needed instead of as approved by insurance.
3) Quality of therapy- Look, this one is relative. Not all therapists are created equal. If you open up the door to look at both those who take your insurance and those who are private pay, you are more likely to find someone great for you!
So I Found Someone, but How Do I Know if We Are a Good Match?
1) Ask if they offer a free consult. Using myself as an example, I provide a free 15-20 minute consult with potential clients. We talk briefly about their needs, expectations, and logistics (insurance, telehealth/in-person, etc). This gives you an opportunity to get to know them and see if you feel a connection. A great therapist should make you feel welcome, safe and excited to get started.
2) Know what you want to work on and bring those things to the free consult/first few sessions. Therapists' aren't mind readers. We rely on clients to tell us what they have going on and help us help you. During those first few sessions, or free consult, ask about their experience with your specific issue, ask about their modality of treatment and how they approach clients/therapy.
3) This one is going to get me in trouble with the therapy community but fuck it. Ask questions about them that are important to you. Do you need someone who is Catholic? LGBTQIA+ affirming? Etc. Now, here's the thing with this one- as a therapist, we spend years having it drilled into our heads that we should never self-disclose about ourselves including political affiliations, religious status, etc. I'm calling bullshit. I just am. How can we expect clients to open up, tell us their secrets, share their hardships and trauma if they have no idea who we are? Or frankly, if we are SAFE for them. If you meet with a potential therapist and it's really important for you to know certain things before you can feel comfortable, ask the question. Gauge their response and make a decision based on the totality of the conversations and "Spidey-sense." Now don't get me wrong- this isn't permission to ask every person they ever voted for, or if they are team Edward or team Jacob (Edward! DUH!), but you do need to know if you can feel secure and aligned with your therapist, and if these issues are a part of what brings you to therapy, then ask!
4) Don't be afraid to meet with multiple therapists before settling on someone. Ask around, schedule consults. Find the one that speaks to you the most and go with them.
If you'd like more information, or would like to reach out, schedule a free consult