December 22, 2017

How to find a therapist

How to find a therapist

For those who have followed along on my journey through PA school, you know it wasn’t a walk in the park. In fact, the chorus of my week seemed to be shower sobs and groans as alarm clocks went off. While in college, I utilized my school’s counseling services during a particularly tumultuous time in a relationship. The therapy experience was awesome, despite being initially quite nervous (even as a Psych major). I went in, talked to someone, didn’t love the experience, switched to someone else, and LOVED the time I spent with that someone (because keep in mind, finding a therapist is like finding a partner – you share intimate, intimate details about your life and have to make sure it’s a good match. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen on the first date.)

Fast forward five years and I found myself trying to make an appointment in my Master’s program university. It took a month to even get a preliminary appointment with someone. By the time I had that appointment, I had somewhat gotten into the swing of grad school life, but still wanted someone to have just in case fecal matter hit the fan again. To my disappointment, students were only allotted one appointment every 4-6 weeks. So it took me a month to get an appointment, and I would only see someone once every month or two. I’m calling bullshit; I was outraged.

I needed a therapist to talk about the shitty experience of trying to find a therapist.

Admittedly, I felt kind of defeated, and so I can 100% understand the mental health crisis currently plaguing this nation. And it is a crisis. For many, it takes a lot of courage to admit needing health – to face the stigma head on with eye contact, to then be told you wont’ be able to see someone regularly, or to have to wait and try to brave the worst of your storm alone.

I am writing to say that while unfortunate, greeting these road blocks is “normal” (a horrid word – what even is normal anyways?) But I encourage you to not give up. To keep trying even if it takes awhile, and you don’t click with your therapist right away. Keep trying and trying and trying. However devastating it is, sometimes just continuing to fight for yourself and finding someone who you click with is empowering and therapeutic in and of itself.

I am happy to report I am FINALLY in a good groove with someone I like and whose values align with my own. And I’ve provided a few resources below to hopefully make the process even just the slightest bit easier. I hope this helps, and please provide tips in the comments below! I’d love love love to add to the post as more eyes get on it.

For all:

  • look at your insurance company’s website: “First and foremost this will let you know if you need to get “pre-authorized” for therapy. Don’t let this freak you out or discourage you — yes, it can be a hassle, but it’s often a simple phone call. And making it will insure that your visits are actually paid for. You should also check to see how many visits per year your insurance allows, as many companies impose limits. Next, your insurance company’s website can help you find a shrink in your area. Many have a function that allows you to search for providers within your insurance network, and some will allow you to narrow your search by gender, specialty, or qualifications.” – got this tip from this website
  • PsychCentral has a helpful rundown of the different kinds of mental health professionals that may be listed on these sites. It can be helpful to know what all the letters after these people’s names mean, but remember that the impressiveness of someone’s degree doesn’t necessarily correlate with how well they’ll be able to help you.
  • Psychology Today: I love this website. Provides the ability to find either a therapist or a psychiatrist, as well as people that operate in your insurance network. Plus, mental health workers provide a little blurb about what they’re all about, and things they specialize in.
  • If you’re still in college and can’t find someone on campus, ask the front desk to help find you someone in your area that works with your insurance. This is what I did and they provided several names. I called a few up, and that’s how I found the woman I’m currently going to.
  • Talk Space: All online!! Chat with a matching therapist, choose a plan that’s right for you (starting at $32/week), find your match, and begin therapy. It’s that easy! This is not covered by insurance, but is so useful for those who can’t carve out time to see people in office. And oftentimes insurance won’t cover Skype sessions (ugh).

For Massachusetts residents:

  • http://www.therapymatcher.org/ 
    • Social Work Therapy Referral Service is a free, confidential telephone referral service and therapist finder in Massachusetts. We provide professional, personalized counseling referrals matched for location, specialty and insurance or fee requirements.
    • We’ll help you find a skilled individual, family, or group therapist in Massachusetts–and we’ll continue to work with you until you find the right match. We take the guesswork out of finding a therapist in MA!
  • Commonwealth Psychology: they offer a whole slew of services like therapy and counseling, neuropsychology testing and eval, psychiatry, health psychology and behavioral medicine, ADHD testing and treatment, child and adolescent services, biofeedback and stress management, psychological and therapeutic assessment, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Has four locations: two in Boston and two in Newton, MA
  • For Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents: zencare.co
  • Filter by your unique needs to find the best therapists near you.
  • View introductory videos and photos to select a good fit.
  • Book a time for your therapist to call you and schedule an in-person appointment.
  • Our goal is to remove the guesswork and logistical hassle from the therapist search, providing a smooth and empowering experience. All clinicians are vetted by our team with guidance from our Medical Advisor, Dr. Stephanie Hartselle, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University.
  • Their blog also has awesome articles re: mental health.

Reader recommendations: 

  • “I personally went through Yelp! I then went to their personal site to see their speciality.”
  • “For anyone who deals with mental illness definitely check out makeitok.org”
  • “I work in the insurance space with benefits and wellness programming. If you are on your employer’s insurance coverage, it can be especially challenging to figure out if mental health is covered on your plan. Aside from finding a therapist, understanding payments and how insurance will cover you visits is important. To start a search, I’d recommend reaching your to your HR/Benefits team and reviewing your “Benefits Summary” for the plan you enrolled. There you can search mental health and see what your co-pays will be. Also knowing the exact plan name carrier is important before your search. Many therapists you find could be out-of-network and cost between $100-$300 per visit out of pocket- try to stay in network to save yourself a headache and your wallet. Having all that information handy is super important!”
  • “I used Zocdoc to find my therapist. It’s a website for setting appointments based on Dr. availability. you can also filter by speciality (i.e. anxiety, depression, bipolar, sexual assault / abuse, eating disorders, etc). You can filter by insurance provider, location, and availability, and can use it for other doctors / dentist appointments too!”
  • “The National Association of Social Workers (NASW for short) is a great organization that clinicians can join if their credentials meet the requirements, and there are state and local chapters across the country that could be great resources for locating mental health services!”
  • “I hear people say that they don’t like the first therapist they meet, or it’s hard to find someone they like. Remember that there are lots of different kinds of therapy! It can be useful to do some research to see which style fits you best, and that will help refine your search. Talk therapy is a broad term. Ask things like: are you strictly Freudian– maybe you don’t feel like talking a lot about family, and this person wouldn’t be for you. CBT and DBT therapists will be more practical and goal oriented. Maybe you want to be more conversational, and this won’t be for you. Worth knowing how someone practices before you go in for an intake, and save some time in the “dating” phase of finding a therapist you like.P.S. For NYers, IPTAR is a wonderful resource. They do an $80 intake, then match you based on that to a therapist within your budget. https://iptar.org/
  • “recline.io is also a great source for people who just need someone to talk!”
  • “The biggest tip I have is having an accountability friend. Sometimes when you’re suffering with something, you can decide you need help but be nervous or scared for the actual steps of calling, making appointments, etc. I had a friend checking in with me to see if I made an appointment, reminding me to call back if I didn’t hear back from someone, etc.”

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10 comments:

  • Hannah Bertiger

    I work in the insurance space with benefits and wellness programming. If you are on your employer’s insurance coverage, it can be especially challenging to figure out if mental health is covered on your plan. Aside from finding a therapist, understanding payments and how insurance will cover you visits is important. To start a search, I’d recommend reaching your to your HR/Benefits team and reviewing your “Benefits Summary” for the plan you enrolled. There you can search mental health and see what your co-pays will be. Also knowing the exact plan name carrier is important before your search. Many therapists you find could be out-of-network and cost between $100-$300 per visit out of pocket- try to stay in network to save yourself a headache and your wallet. Having all that information handy is super important!

    • Katie

      Hi Hannah! Wow oh wow thank you so much for this. I would have never thought to approach it from an HR standpoint – pure genius. Adding this to the post. Thank you again and happy holidays!!!

  • Katie

    Hi Katie, I just want to say THANK YOU. I follow you on Insta and I must confess that you sharing your struggle with finding help has not only encouraged me to seek the help that I need, but also motivated me to continue my search to find someone who is not just trying to hand me a bottle of pills. I’m still searching, but I really do appreciate your honesty and realness. It’s good to not feel alone and to not feel ashamed in seeking assistance! This post was very helpful. 🙂

    • Katie

      Hi Katie!! Thank you so so much for sharing this with me! I’m so glad you found the post helpful, and I appreciate your kind words so much xoxo

  • Shayla

    Hi, so glad you’re encouraging people to go to therapy. It’s so helpful both when you’re stressed, but also when everything’s fine — you can use that opportunity to get to know yourself better!

    One thought, though this is more for after you’ve found a therapist. I hear people say that they don’t like the first therapist they meet, or it’s hard to find someone they like. Remember that there are lots of different kinds of therapy! It can be useful to do some research to see which style fits you best, and that will help refine your search. Talk therapy is a broad term. Ask things like: are you strictly Freudian– maybe you don’t feel like talking a lot about family, and this person wouldn’t be for you. CBT and DBT therapists will be more practical and goal oriented. Maybe you want to be more conversational, and this won’t be for you. Worth knowing how someone practices before you go in for an intake, and save some time in the “dating” phase of finding a therapist you like.

    P.S. For NYers, IPTAR is a wonderful resource. They do an $80 intake, then match you based on that to a therapist within your budget. https://iptar.org/

  • Erika

    I went to therapy during my undergrad dealing with current issues but wasn’t able to deal with traumas experiences as a child. So this past summer when I faced some issues that triggered my PTSD i really struggled to find a new therapist since i moved for my graduate degree. I was lucky and really liked the first one I made an appointment with. I looked for a therapist that specialized trauma and did a specific treatment for it. I had a list of three and just had a gut feeling about my first choice. So happy it worked out but i definitely recommend looking for someone that specialist for what you want to work through and go with your gut! I knew i wanted a psychiatrist who specialized in what i was looking to work on. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

    • Katie

      This is such great advice! Looking for someone who specializes in what you’re seeking help with. So glad you found someone you clicked with, and thank you for sharing this, Erika!!

  • Bailee

    I finally went to see a counselor at my University (we are allotted one appointment every 2 weeks but I feel that should be a little more flexible depending on the situation) this past October. I was falling apart and felt like a fraud that, as a Psych major, and someone who vehemently encourages any and every one to get involved with therapy, I had never taken that plunge myself. (We are twins, Katie Lemons, twins I tell ya!) Waiting for my first session, I felt like I wanted to get up and run. I was SO afraid, nervous, because I knew I’d fall apart the second someone asked me what was wrong. And I did fall apart. Every 2 weeks. And when I left I felt like I had just run a marathon and I would be so exhausted, but I felt lighter every time. Like unpacking bricks. Still heavy, but the load is more manageable each time.
    I hate I waited until this semester to do it because now I am finished and I won’t have access to a counselor for free anymore 🙁 but I really hope to find a therapist to see that I can fit into my budget somehow because it truly was empowering and I’m so glad you found someone <3

    • Katie

      This is so so so awesome and encouraging. I sob every time, but feels like a far more productive outburst of tears, rather than leaving me in a stagnant emotional state. Thank you so much for sharing this, Bailee! Happy holidays xo

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