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.
- 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).
- Betterhelp: BetterHelp is the largest online counseling platform worldwide. We change the way people get help with facing life’s challenges by providing convenient, discreet and affordable access to a licensed therapist. BetterHelp makes professional counseling available anytime, anywhere, through a computer, tablet or smartphone. Counselors are licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), or licensed professional counselors (LPC) with at least 3 years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience. The cost ranges from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly). You can cancel your membership at any time for any reason.
- Pride Counseling: This service noticed that individuals in the LGBTQ community suffer from mental health issues at a disproportionately high rate and we wanted to help. By providing online counseling to the LGBTQ community, we make help accessible and accepting of everyone. We provide a platform for people to get the help they need discretely, affordably, and conveniently. Message your counselor whenever an issue arises. Schedule sessions that work with your schedule. $40-$70/ week
- Regain: for couples. Two users share a joint account in which they can communicate with the counselor together. All written communication is visible to both users and the counselor. If either partner would like to speak with the counselor privately, an individual live session can be scheduled. Ranges from $40-70 per week.
As someone who identifies as a white woman, I will never be able to understand the centuries of trauma that the BIPOC community has experienced. And how hundreds of years of trauma is internalized through our DNA though something called epigenetics. So mental health services are absolutely imperative for BIPOC and finding the right match is even more important. Here are some resources to locate Black therapists in order to feel fully seen and heard in the therapy process. The below resources were provided by Katrina of @healerkali, founder of Manifesting Me Wellness (@manifestingmewellness). If you find them useful (as I so did), please donate to her business through Venmo, PayPal, or CashApp. Thank you, Katrina! (posted with permission)
- Therapy for Black Girls: Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls.
- Therapy for Black Men: TherapyForBlackMen.org is a directory to help men of color in their search for a therapist. Using the directory, men can search by therapist location and specialization. Searching by location, the results will include the therapists near you and will display their credentials, location, and the issues they treat. At TherapyForBlackMen.org, men will also find a wide range of resources aimed at helping them in their search for a multiculturally-competent therapist.
- BEAM: We are a collective of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities.
- Donate here
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color: National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) is a healing justice organization committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color (QTPoC). We work at the intersection of movements for social justice and the field of mental health to integrate healing justice into both of these spaces. Our overall goal is to increase access to healing justice resources for QTPoC.
- Inclusive Therapists: A social justice-oriented professionals that are boldly: anti-discrimination, anti-oppression, anti-stigma, anti-racist & anti-ablest. We are an activist movement pursuing equity, justice and liberation in mental health care.
- Psychology Today
- If this is a cause you are also passionate about, consider a donation to The LoveLand Foundation:
- The Loveland Foundation is the official continuation of this effort to bring opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls. Through fellowships, residency programs, listening tours, and more, ultimately we hope to contribute to both the empowerment and the liberation of the communities we serve.
- you can either donate directly or form a giving circle with 6 friends. to donate and support Black women and girls who deserve access to healing. If each of your friends contribute $20, it will cover 1 therapy session.
For Massachusetts residents:
- 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.
- “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, VIAQX is 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.”