How in the world do I find a good therapist?

transgendertherapistatlanta

 

I’m a little anxious, what next?

I was recently asked how do you even find a therapist? Going to therapy is a new and can cause anxiety.  The options themselves can make it difficult to find a good fit. If you need  a sliding scale or insurance based practice you could also feel overwhelmed. I want to help you alleviate some of that anxiety. This is a guide to finding the right therapist for you and your finances.

Finances

What I hear often as the most important thing people are looking for in a good therapist is the personal fit for finances. Sometimes, you need to use your insurance. I recommend going to your insurance website for a list of people who take your insurance. A great resource are directories such as Psychology Today that you can search by insurance types. In a directory, you can get a glimpse of a therapist’s specialty and style and then go to their website to learn more.

If you are looking for a sliding fee scale or a reduced rate for services it can feel challenging to find the best fit.  A great resource is to ask friends, or call your chosen professional and ask if they offer a reduced fee. If not, you can ask if they have a referral source in mind. Therapists often have resources available to tell you about.

Finding the right fit

So, you have the logistics figured out. But, how do you decide who to actually make an appointment with to see first? The thing to remember is that you may or not click well with the very first therapist you see. That is okay. You are there to get help, so it’s most helpful if you feel comfortable in session.

What do you do next? Try making a list either written or verbally filled with the traits that are most important to you. Do you think you want short term therapy? Try looking for someone using  Solution Focused Therapy. Do you want to really process your past trauma? Is it important for you to see a therapist of a particular gender or religion? Try to get these things in order before your search.

Finding the right specialist

Many therapists have specialties that they focus on. If you have a specific concern it is great to find someone that has a lot of experience with that concern. You can generally find this out by their online directory. But, pay attention to how they speak to their potential clients. If you are looking for a therapist specializing in LGBTQ clients, look for the use of inclusive language and openness on their website. If you are looking for a therapist for grief or loss, realize how you feel inside when reading about their work with others.

Making the first phone call

When you have narrowed down to a few clinicians, reach out for a phone call or email. I often hear people say that they never get a call back. Please keep in mind that often therapists are in sessions with others all day and some return calls at the end of the day.

As you are on the phone, be mindful of each other’s time and ask if they offer a free brief phone consultation. This is like a mini interview or getting to know each other session. It’s here that you will find how well you think you can work with each other and how they may have helped others in the past.

What to ask the therapist?

This is also an appropriate time to ask some of the tougher questions about insurance acceptance and fees. Most relevant is that you should have a clear idea before you book your first appointment what your fees will be and if the therapist accepts your insurance. Don’t be afraid if they tell you they must verify your benefits. That means they are communicating with your insurance company to check things like your individual cost for sessions. They verify cost and sometimes more complicated things like deductibles and co-payment.

This sounds like a lot of steps and a good bit of effort on your part.  But,  after you have an idea on what your personal needs are for therapy you can make that initial phone call. This should allow you to be more confident knowing your personal needs in regard to finances, specialty and how well you feel you can work with your therapist.

Breathe!

I sincerely hope you have a good first experience finding a therapist. Please keep in mind that it is okay to ask for a brief phone call and it is okay to talk openly about insurance and fees. Please let me know if this was helpful!

 

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