This guide will help you find the perfect therapist.
Are you looking for mental health help with counseling but don’t know where to start? It can seem overwhelming and daunting. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding the right care for you.
Selp-Pay or Insurance? Online or in-person
First, decide on a few things. Are you willing to pay for insurance? Consider whether you want to receive your mental health support in person sessions or online. Some clinicians offer in-person and/or online counseling. Others provide only online counseling. Other clinicians only offer in-person therapy. Teletherapy gives you the opportunity to choose from many therapists. You are no longer limited to those closest to you. As long as they are licensed to work in your state, you can choose any therapist. My practice is located in San Antonio, Texas, but I can see clients throughout Texas via teletherapy. The format of therapy and your preferred method of payment will inform your search so it’s helpful to have an idea at the outset.
What insurance policies cover therapy?
If you want to go the insurance route, go to your insurance’s website and search for an in-network provider. Look for the “behavioral health” section of an insurance’s website and search through a directory of providers. This is probably the easiest way for you to find a provider that accepts insurance. This method of searching has a downside. The directory only lists names, addresses, and credentials. The directory does not provide any information that gives you a sense of what each person is like as a clinician – which is often important for many before they are willing to pick up the phone. To learn more about these people, you will have to do your own Google searches.
Search online for the best therapist to meet your needs
You can also go to trusted online therapist directories, such as Good Therapy, and search for mental healthcare help clinicians. You can also download counseling applications such as BetterHelp, Talkspace or Alma to search for a counselor. This type of search has the advantage that you can instantly get a feel for each person by looking at their profiles. You can also put a face on the name since most of them include photos. You will also find information about whether they take insurance and which ones. You will need to create your own filters to find a clinic that accepts your preferred payment method (insurance vs. personal pay).
What does each credential mean?
Right about now in the process, you might be confused with all the different credentials: MD, PhD, LMFT, LPC, LMSW…which one do I want? Here’s a quick overview.
- MD’s in this case are Psychiatrists, who are physicians who specialize in mental or behavioral illnesses. They can prescribe medication, perform psychiatric tests and offer psychotherapy.
- PhD’s are Psychologists, who focus on one area of psychology, including educational, child, clinical, or counseling. They offer psychological testing and mental health services, as well as psychotherapy.
- Master’s-level clinicians, which include Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), are clinicians who focus on providing psychotherapy.
Unless you are specifically looking for someone who can prescribe medication, in which case you need a Psychiatrist, you don’t need to be too bogged down by which type of credential the clinician has, as much as making sure you feel comfortable with the clinician’s approach and style. Some clinicians are more interactive and engaging than others. Whether there is a match between your therapist’s style and what you’re looking for is something that you will most likely be able to only tell once you’ve spoken to them a little – and that brings us to the next step.
Get a phone consultation
Then, once you have narrowed down your search to a few clinicians, it’s time to reach out to them. You should reach out to them to see if they are accepting new clients. Most offer a short phone consultation before meeting in person to get to know each other better. These consultations are typically free. They will ask you a few questions about your goals and it is a chance to find out if you feel comfortable speaking with them.
Get Ready for Your First Session
Finally, find a clinician who meets your criteria. Then, you can start your first session. Think about what you want to get out of the session – and go in with an open mind. Some people can tell right away if a therapist will be a good fit, while others may need several sessions to get to know them. Either way, this is your therapy, your life – do what feels right for YOU.
That’s it. I hope you find the right therapist. Therapy can be a rewarding and long-lasting experience if you have the right clinician.
The GoodTherapy Registry may be of assistance to you. GoodTherapy has thousands of Therapists who are available to help you in your journey. Get the support that you need today.
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