Finding a therapist to help you sort out the most intimate details of your life can be extremely intimidating.
Look no further!!!
We have done the work for you and compiled 10 steps that will ensure you maximize the opportunity to work with a professional therapist.
1.) Know the difference
Know the difference between a counselor, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist (all require post graduate education and a license). For the sake of this article, we will use the word “provider”, which means 1 of the following:
Counselor = short term talk therapy
Psychotherapist = short or long term talk therapy
Psychologist = diagnostic testing and/or long term talk therapy
Psychiatrist = prescribes medications and/or long term talk therapy
2.) Understand what credentials mean.
- LPC = Licensed Professional Counselor
- LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Psy D or Ph D = Doctor of Psychology
- LMFT = Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
- LCDC = Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors
- MD = Psychiatrist
Ask yourself if this is something you can commit to, and if so, you will need to find a day & time (one hour) to dedicate to visiting with your new provider.
4.) Affording care.
Do you have mental health benefits as part of my health insurance plan? Just call the number on your insurance card and ask. If you do, find a therapist who is “in network”. If you do not have benefits, be prepared to pay out of pocket, which can cost $85-$120 per hour session. If you do plan on using health insurance benefits, your provider will be required to diagnose you. Although being diagnosed with a mental illness may provide clarity on treatment options, not everyone who will see a provider qualifies for a diagnosis. Your provider will complete an assessment and he or she SHOULD have a discussion regarding a diagnosis.
5.) Ask yourself: “What are my needs?”
Are you looking to address a specific issue, or just looking for someone to build a long-term relationship with in order to support you in solving life’s problems? The more you know about the problems you face, the easier it is for your new provider to identify problems and offer solutions.
6.) Begin your search.
Start with these sites:
- Use Google, Yahoo, or Bing: type “counselor and your zip code”
- Ask friends and family (you’d be surprised)
- If you are using insurance, call your insurance provider and ask for providers in your zip code.
Interview a potential provider, they should be able to set aside 10-15 minutes in order to answer and ask questions you may have about the process. It is also a good idea to do a face-to-face interview. This gives you a chance to find the office, and ensure it is in an area easily assessable to you. Think about what time of day you will be seeing your provider? Is the traffic horrible? Is there enough parking? Is it private? The interview is a great opportunity to ask the following questions:
- How long have you been a therapist/counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist?
- What are your credentials?
- What are your rates per hour?
- Do you take insurance or will this be out of pocket?
- What are your office hours?
- What type of therapeutic process do you utilize and how long have you been using this technique?
- Do you have a specialty? (Couples, teenagers, depression, anxiety, etc)
- What are your thoughts about spirituality?
- What is your cancellation policy?
After the interview, reflect on how you felt about the interview and talking to this person. Did they make you feel comfortable? Essentially, if you did your homework up front, following your gut instinct will help you make a good decision.
9.) Get Started.
If you feel like you have found the right therapist for you, go ahead and complete the intake paperwork and informed consent (giving permission to the provider to start working with you) and set the initial appointment.
Are you feeling like you are making progress? Are your therapy goals being met? Remember, You can ALWAYS decide you no longer want to see a provider for any reason. Don’t be discouraged if you have to start over. The goal is to find a long-term partner, who is a good fit for you that can help you meet your therapy goals.
Pace Counseling Group is a professional counseling firm located in San Antonio, Texas. We are focused on continuously improving the quality of life for our clients and their families. We are currently accepting new clients with no wait list. Insurances accepted. Make your first appointment online by clicking here.
To learn more, visit us at Pace Counseling Group or call (210) 481-3727.