I get asked by friends and family often how to go about finding a therapist that is the right fit for them and their current mental health needs. It can be hard, confusing and overwhelming to find someone you can trust to provide care, support and guidance on your journey. I hope this post will help alleviate some of the confusion and make this process a little easier.
Here are my top suggestions for identifying a therapist that is the best fit for you:
If you plan on using insurance to pay for part or all of your treatment, start by calling your insurance provider. Find out how much they cover and what your out of pocket expense will likely be. Additionally, you can ask for a list of therapists *in network* to start your search process. You can also ask if your insurance provider will cover any fees for an *out of network* provider. If they do, this may help widen your search as not all therapists accept insurance, but most are able to provide a copy of your paid invoice (or summary of payment and services rendered) to you so that you can submit that for reimbursement to your insurance company. For more info on why I do not accept insurance, please see my FAQs page, as it may be helpful information for you in making your decision to use or not use your insurance to pay for therapy sessions.
If you did not obtain a list of *in network* therapists from your insurance company or you want to conduct your own search - I highly recommend searching for a therapist using one of the many databases that allow you to search by specialty, location, and lots of other factors that will help you focus your efforts. Some of the more popular databases include: PsychologyToday.com, GoodTherapy.org, and OpenPathCollective.org. I have listed a few more on my Resources page as well.
3. Once you’ve identified a few therapists that seem like they would be a good fit, take a look at their websites. You can find out a lot about a therapist from their website, and here are some suggestions for what to look for:
Is the therapist accepting new clients?
What days/times do they see clients?
Are they licensed in the state you live in? By law, therapists can only provide support to clients who are located in the state the therapist is licensed in. Even virtual therapists. So if you live in Florida, you will want to seek a therapist licensed in Florida.
What are the fees for sessions/what insurance do they accept? Do they offer a sliding scale for private pay clients?
What is their specialty or what is their area of expertise? This is important to finding the right fit. You may not have the clinical language to describe your experience or needs, and you may not know the theoretical framework or the names of clinical interventions (like, “DBT” and “CBT”) that a therapist will use to help guide you on your journey - but you do know you and what you need! Try to gather information on what types of mental health matters the therapist is trained and experienced to support and what populations the therapist works with primarily.
Check out the therapist’s “About Me” page or their Blog posts. You can usually get a sense of the therapist’s personality on these pages. A strong connection between therapist and client is important to the work you are about to begin. It’s ok to search for one that you feel you will vibe with. Rapport is very important, and you are worthy of finding a therapist that you enjoy working with!
4. Yay! You found one or two (or many) potential therapists for you. Now what?!?! Reach out and set up a consultation. Most therapists will offer a 15 minute phone or virtual consultation for free. This is so you and the therapist can get to know each other better and determine if this is the best fit.
5. Prepare for your consultation. 15 minutes will fly by so feeling prepared will help you make good use of this short time. Remember this is a consultation and not a therapy session, so you don’t have to give all (or any) background or history - this will be done in the initial therapy session. I recommend providing the therapist with a brief overview of your current situation and goals for therapy. In addition, it might be helpful to have a list of questions you want to ask the therapist. Sometimes therapists will have some questions for you as well so they can better understand your support needs to determine if they are able to provide that support.
One last reminder before you begin this new adventure: therapists are human. We make mistakes, make incorrect assumptions and have limits to our knowledge and abilities. It’s okay to question your therapist, or tell them something is not working for you, or to change therapists. You are worthy of receiving the support you need. And therapy is FOR you!
This isn’t easy: choosing yourself, choosing differently, seeking support. You are doing hard, but valuable work. Please take gentle care of yourself. I’m wishing you all the best as you take the first steps through this space between what was and what will be.