If you think this is the time for therapy, what should you do next? Finding the right therapist may feel overwhelming and at times is one of the reasons why people end up not seeking therapy. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through this process:
1) Consider in which areas of your life you need help. Are you concerned about issues related to your personality, your family history, your way of dealing with stress at work, or mental health problems such as depression/anxiety/trauma? When you are troubled by issues that seem to be related to you as an individual and affect multiple areas of your life, an individual therapist may be the best option, so that you can understand the origins of your issues and work in therapy to address them.
If you are concerned about specific relationships in your life (for example with your partner or with your children), you may want to seek a couple or family therapist, who can help you and your family memebrs problem-solve conflict, develop better communication skills and improve the quality of your relationships.
If you think your children need therapy because of issues they are struggling with, a child therapist is the best option. You are still likely to be involved in the treatment, as many children’s issues are best addressed by working closely with their caregivers and the whole family system.
2) Once you are clear about which therapist you are looking for, it is important to gather information on the financial aspects of therapy, so that you will be able to choose a therapist and a treatment plan that you can afford. First you need to decide if you can/want to self-pay for therapy. If you have an insurance and you are planning to use your benefits, the first step is to call your insurance helpline and get a list of the mental health providers within network. At this point, it is also important to explore your out of network benefits, in case you find a therapist you like that is not in your insurance network. Some insurances have good out of network benefits, and you may want to consider this option. Another possibility, if you cannot afford the self-pay fee of a therapist you like, is asking for a sliding fee. Most therapists who do not take insurance have few spots available for a sliding fee to provide services to people who cannot afford the full fee. Don’t be shy in asking for it, therapists are used to this type of requests and will be happy to accommodate them if they have a spot available for a sliding fee.
3) Now you have a plan for the financial part, what to do to find a therapist? www.psychologytoday.com is the most commonly used website to search for therapists. You can search by different criteria, such as geographic location, insurance panels and specialty. On this website, each therapist has a profile, with information about their background and expertise, as well as fees.
4) If the therapist you are interested in has a website, it is helpful to browse the website and get more information on this therapist’s type of clientele and approach. Do you feel that this website describe some of your issues? Does it communicate hope to you?
5) Word of mouth. If you feel comfortable, you can share with your friends and family that you are seeking therapy. They may know good therapists in town and give you some names that you could look into.
6) Most therapists offer a free phone consultation for you to decide if you want to schedule an in-person appointment. Some people are uncomfortable talking over the phone with someone they do not know and prefer to go straight to schedule the in-person appointment. Others use this chance to start getting a feel for the therapist and describe their issues. If you are in this second category, talking over the phone with the therapist could be a good opportunity to begin gauging if this person could be a good fit for you.
7) How do you know you picked the right therapist? Therapy is a bit like dating, in that you certainly need to look for a therapist that has the right background and expertise to help, but you also need to feel good chemistry with the therapist. An important healing part of therapy is the relationship with the therapist. A therapist can be the worldwide known expert on your issues, but if there is not good chemistry between you two, if you don't feel comfortable and at ease, you will not find therapy very beneficial. If you don’t like the therapist you picked, this does not mean therapy is not for you…Just continue looking for the right match!