How Do I Choose a Therapist (Part 2 of 3)
What are you looking for in a therapist? Perhaps you’re looking for someone who is empathetic, compassionate, intuitive, and is a good listener. You may also be looking for someone who is reliable and will challenge you. Like any profession, therapists come in all different varieties. Some have a more open and flexible approach, while others have a more structured and methodical approach. Take some time to think about what type of therapist you think would be a good fit for your personality. The personal connection you make with your therapist plays a major role in the effectiveness of the therapy, so this is a key component in selecting a therapist.
Many therapists also specialize in treating certain diagnoses and symptoms. When you are ready, hop online and search for therapists in your area that specialize in treating your symptoms and read through some profiles to see which therapist clicks with you. There are great online resources to help find a therapist, including Psychology Today, Good Therapy, ZocDoc, and Open Path Collective (for sliding scale). These websites allow you to search and filter by location, gender, symptoms, therapeutic styles, insurance and more. You can also contact your insurance directly for a list of providers that are in network. Remember, it’s completely understandable if you are unsure of your symptoms or which therapeutic style would best fit your needs or personality; don’t let this deter you from seeking help. Many therapists offer a free consultation before setting up an appointment. If you’d like to have more information before you make a final decision, reach out to a few therapists you have interest in and ask if they would be willing to have a short phone call with you before your first appointment. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions, get a feel for their personality, and see if their style would be a good fit for you.
While you are researching, consider how you would like to pay for therapy; out of pocket or through insurance. If you prefer to pay for therapy through your insurance, makes sure to confirm with the therapist and your insurance company that the therapist is in network. You should also ask your insurance company if you have a deductible to be paid down, and what your copay will be each session. If you find a therapist you really like who is not in your insurance’s network, ask your insurance company if they will reimburse you for services, and if so, confirm with the therapist that they are willing to give you documentation to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
If you would rather pay completely out of pocket, remember that this will likely be more expensive than insurance covered sessions. However, you can also look for therapists who may be willing to work with you on a sliding scale. You may be asking “why would I pay out of pocket when I could find a therapist through my insurance?” One of the main benefits of out of pocket pay is privacy. When therapy is covered by insurance, your insurance company can ask to review your records to confirm continuance of treatment, which also means they can stop paying for your treatment if they see fit. Your therapist will also be required to give a diagnosis for insurance purposes which will be put in your medical record. If you pay privately, this diagnosis will not be put on any permanent medical records. Consider the pros and cons between out of pocket and insurance before making a final decision.
Now that you’ve made a few consultation calls and decided on a method of payment, it’s time to set an appointment. Reach back out to the therapist you feel is the right fit for you and schedule an appointment (you can also do this during the consultation of course if it feels right). You can consider setting up an initial appointment with a few therapists to test out, just remember this can get expensive. Some insurance companies will also only cover a few intakes per year, so they may not cover all of these either. Depending on the therapist, there may also be some online paperwork to complete prior to your intake (or this can be complete during your initial intake). Now that you’re all set for your appointment, you may be wondering what to expect for your first session. I will be covering this topic in part 3 of this 3 part blog series, which will be posted soon.