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It’s a misconception that seeing a therapist means there’s something ‘wrong’ with you. Fortunately, that awful trend is starting to shift.
Thousands of people seek treatment for mental health each year, with figures slowly and steadily increasing—even among the uninsured.
But if you’ve already started your search for the perfect therapist, you already know how hard it can be. Between juggling your insurance, finding reputable doctors in your area, and battling social stigmas, it can seem almost impossible.
That’s why we’ve created this helpful guide! Keep reading to learn some essential tips on how to choose a therapist that fits your lifestyle.
1. Ask Around
We understand that asking for therapists isn’t exactly a conversation fit for the water cooler. However, if you have someone in your life that you trust, there’s no harm in asking for their recommendations.
While stigmas surrounding therapy and mental health still exist, you’d be surprised at how willing some people are to share their experiences.
And if you can’t find anyone in your social circle with a recommendation, schedule an appointment with your general physician. Some therapists won’t accept patients without a referral anyway, so talking with a GP is a good way to learn about trustworthy therapists in your area while securing future care.
Certain therapists have different specialties, too, so your physician can help you find a clinic that can help with your unique need. So if you’re struggling with, say, autism, it’d be more beneficial to find therapy clinics that specialize in helping autistic patients.
2. Learn About Insurance and Payment Plans Beforehand
Therapy is expensive. Like, borderline impossible for most people to afford without insurance expensive.
On a more positive note, most insurance providers now offer coverage for behavioral health treatments like therapy.
Before scheduling your first appointment, make sure you’re with a doctor who accepts your insurance provider. Most therapists have this information on their website, but you’ll still want to call and get verbal confirmation.
So what if you’re uninsured?
You’ll want to choose a therapist that accepts sliding-scale payments. On a sliding-scale system, you and your therapist will come up with a reasonable figure that you can afford to pay for each visit.
Most therapists are willing to work with you if you can come up with a suitable plan, so don’t be afraid to ask.
3. Research Your Therapist
If a therapist is reputable, you shouldn’t have an issue finding information about their background. While most therapists have a dedicated website, some prefer to use directories.
To save yourself some time, start with Psychology Today, which is one of the most respected directories in the industry.
However, as we mentioned in the previous section, always double-check a therapist’s info. Sometimes directories contain outdated information like old phone numbers or obsolete insurance info.
The simplest way to learn about a therapist is to simply call their office and speak with a receptionist. They’ll be able to tell you about everything from what a therapist charges per session to how long they’ve been in practice.
They may also set you up with a brief phone consultation so you can get to know a therapist before deciding if they’re a good fit for you.
4. Expect a Lot of Bad First Sessions
Consultations are a lot like first dates. They’re an opportunity for you to learn more about your therapist, set up expectations, and delve into your history.
They’re also like first dates in that sometimes first sessions can be a pain. That’s okay.
While it may seem like a waste of your time and money, it’s important to understand that not every therapist is the right fit for every patient. It’s quite rare for a patient and doctor to click during the first meeting.
What’s important is that you take your well-being into your hands and find a therapist who fits your needs and understands your unique situation in life.
And don’t worry about upsetting them or hurting their feelings. Becoming a therapist requires years of training and constant continuing education. They’re well aware that they’ll never see some patients in their office again and they won’t take it personally.
5. Look into Telehealth
Between family and social obligations, work schedules, and finding reliable transportation, it isn’t always possible to get into a therapist’s office.
Yet at the same time, mental health conditions don’t disappear. If left untreated, symptoms can become exacerbated, making a tough battle even tougher.
Fortunately, there’s a pretty cool tech-oriented solution in telehealth. Companies like Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, and Better Help offer customers access to medical professionals straight from their smartphones.
Getting started is often as easy as signing up and inputting some basic information about yourself. Note that this info is safe under HIPAA guidelines, so anything you discuss with your doctor or enter into the app is confidential.
Telehealth offers the same great care you’d get from an in-person visit to a therapist, but without any of the hassle. It’s a huge step forward for those with limited access to transportation or those who live in rural areas.
The only downside is that most telehealth offerings aren’t covered by insurers. However, some providers, such as Ambetter, may have their own telehealth solutions that fit under your coverage.
If your provider doesn’t cover telehealth visits, look into a subscription-based service or find coupons online. Most services will offer a discount for your first few visits, so you should be able to save some cash.
Getting Peace of Mind: How to Choose a Therapist
Now that you know how to choose a therapist, it’s time to put this information to good use. Therapy is hard work, and more often than not, it’s uncomfortable.
But taking that first step toward a healthier life is often the most challenging part. So take a deep breath and reach out. There’s a therapist out there who can change your things.
For more information on topics like this, be sure to check back with our blog.