How to begin therapy
Many people have expressed difficulty in knowing how to begin the therapy process. First, it is a difficult and brave decision to begin the work of therapy, and I applaud you for taking the risk to engage yourself in new ways. Secondly, I hope to answer some questions about where to begin as a way to ease you into the journey.
Practically, financial access is necessary in considering obtaining therapy services. Do you have insurance or will you be paying out of pocket? If you have insurance, you’ll want to call them to find out if you have outpatient mental health coverage. Do you have a deductible to meet? Will you have a copay/co-insurance? All of these questions should be asked prior to calling a therapist. Once you know this information, it’ll make seeking out a therapist who is paneled with your insurance provider much easier. If you’re going to be paying out of pocket for therapy due to not having insurance, be realistic about what you can afford and talk about it with your clinician.
Next, what do you want to address in your life? Anxiety or depression? Do you have an eating disorder? Are you getting divorced? Do you have a history of trauma? Are you struggling with an addiction of some kind? Family issues? Transitions? Knowing what you want to address can help you figure out the type of therapist you’re looking for. Every therapist is vastly different. Depending on specialty or experience, you’re going to want to know what they’re able to help you with based on their scope of practice.
Perhaps you’ve now taken care of these practical steps in figuring out how you’re going to financially cover therapy services and you know what you’re looking to address in therapy. Now you want to find a therapist. This can seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you think. I hear from people a lot, “How will I know if someone is good or not?” Word of mouth is incredibly helpful. If you know of someone who has been to therapy (or currently in therapy) – ask them what they think of their therapist or if they’d be willing to ask their therapist for some recommendations. Therapists have colleagues that they trust to refer out to and are happy to do so.
Another great resource is the website – Psychology Today – a therapist directory. There are several filters you can apply to your search including: insurance type, modality, area of town, male, female, or non-binary, what you want to address, etc. This can be incredibly helpful. Go through each therapist profile that catches your attention. Pay attention to the feel of the therapist through their words. If someone lists a website – go check out their website for a fuller picture of who they are and what they offer.
Once you have decided on a therapist (or several therapists), give them a call. Many therapists are willing to offer a 15-minute consultation via phone in order to get to know them better. If you choose to meet them in person, see that time as a way to decide if they’re a good fit for you. If they’re not a good fit, it’s perfectly fine to move on. You’re going to be engaging difficult things within yourself and having the right therapist is exceptionally important.
It is my sincere hope that this helps you on your journey to find a therapist and that this takes a bit of the pressure off in the process of obtaining one. In the words of David Richo: “Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”