For whatever reason now is the time that you’re ready to start therapy. Maybe you tried therapy before and only lasted for one or two sessions. Maybe you saw someone over the course of a few years. Or maybe this is your first time.
There are things you should consider when you’re searching for your therapist. I think the most important question to ask yourself is what’s your number one priority. This will be something different for everyone. Typically people think about cost first. Are you willing to pay out of pocket for therapy or do you need to see someone who takes your health insurance? Don’t forget to check on what your in network and out of network benefits are. Some insurance plans will offer you excellent out of network benefits making choices more plentiful and cost less of a factor.
Another significant thing to consider is how you want to go about finding this person. How important is it to you that you have a personal reference for your therapist? If you’re comfortable sharing the fact that you’re seeking treatment consider asking around for suggestions. Maybe you don’t want to go see the same therapist as your best friend but that doesn’t mean your best friend can’t ask his/her therapist for a recommendation. Then again if you are comfortable seeing the same therapist as your best friend ask how he/she feels about sharing him/her with you and see if the connection could work out. If you choose to go the route of finding a therapist through a personal reference you want to consider the relationships involved and think whether or not it’s too complicated or close to home. You might not feel comfortable going to see someone you could run into during a social setting.
If you’ve chosen to find someone completely on your own there are places for you to start your search. If you are using health insurance you can check with your insurance company to see providers that are in network. Typically, you can do a search on your insurance’s website under behavioral health providers. You simply enter in your insurance plan and then you will get a list of therapists who take that exact plan. Some companies even have therapists write up blurbs about themselves and then you can see that information during your search. Additionally, there are websites that allow you to search for therapists based on your needs and wants. Some of those websites include Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com), Good Therapy (goodtherapy.org), and Network Therapy (networkthearpy.com). Not all therapists appear on all sites so you can look at all of them if you want to. It’s free to browse.
Another option that’s in between a personal referral and searching by yourself is to go through your company’s Employment Assistance Program (EAP). Not every company provides this option but if you’re at a larger organization most likely you will have an additional person there to help you on your search. An EAP representative is someone who does the looking for you. Most likely you will be using your health insurance plan if you decide to have an EAP representative help you. You tell them what your specifics are and they’ll come back with a name for you to call. Sometimes EAP’s work with specific therapists who they trust and therefore refer to often. Sometimes they are simply looking for your requirements (such as location) so you don’t have to spend the time doing the research. The good part is that the EAP’s will actually call the therapists they find who meet your criteria and see if they are accepting new patients and if they have the time available that you’ve told them you’re looking for. All that’s left for you to do at that point is call the therapist and set up your first appointment.
Something else you want to think about is how flexible you are in terms of appointment day, time, and location. Do you need an evening appointment after work or are you an early riser who wants to start your day in your therapists’ office? Some people need to find someone close to their office because the only time they can go to therapy is during their lunch break. You know better than anyone else what you want to talk about in your therapy sessions. Are these topics that are hard to discuss? If so are you the type of person that can separate what you talk about in therapy from the rest of your day or do you need to finish work and then head over to your therapist for an emotional venting session.
There are many factors to consider when searching for a therapist. Think about all the points I made and pick out your top priority so you know where to start. Then work your way down the list of factors until you’ve gotten the name of someone you want to call. If possible have a second and third option just in case number one is not taking on new patients at the moment. If you’ve only found one person you really want to call and they turn out not to be available try not to get discouraged. That person will most likely be able to refer you to someone else they know.
Are you ready to make that call? Good luck!
Those are some of the logistics to consider when choosing a therapist. My next blog post will focus on what you should be thinking about when you are starting with your new therapist.