I get a decent amount of calls from people looking for a therapist...not surprising since that is what I do for a living! :) However, often people are looking for therapists that accept a specific insurance. Although I do work with a few insurance companies, there are a lot I don't work with and I get a fair number of calls from people who are frustrated and overwhelmed with the process. The common complaints are therapists don't accept their insurance or don't call them back. I can't help with the not calling back part (I always return phone calls and emails even if I already know I am not going to be the therapist for them). But maybe I can help with the insurance part. So I decided to write this blog post with my suggestions for finding a therapist in hopes that this information is helpful!
First, let's start with the insurance question. If you are trying to find a therapist who takes your insurance, it can sometimes be a pretty daunting process. My first suggestion is to call the number on the back of your insurance card to figure out your benefits and get a list of local therapists. Unfortunately, I have found that insurance companies are not always the best at keeping their lists up to date regarding therapists who are actually accepting new patients. Despite this problem, it is still a good place to start. You can also usually find this same information on the insurance company's website. It is also important to make sure your mental health benefits are actually managed by your insurance company. These days, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to farm out the management of mental health benefits to another provider. For example, a lot of Blue Shield of California members' mental health is actually managed by Magellan. This information is generally not very apparent on your card and people don't realize it until they go to access their mental health benefits and realize they need to look at an entirely different list of providers.
Second, I recommend using the Psychology Today website to help search for therapists in your area. This is the website that most therapists use to advertise. Each therapist has a profile, often including a picture, that tells you more about them and a website link if they have one. It has a lot of options for filtering results including location, insurance companies, ages they work with and specialties. If you are not planning to use insurance you can also filter by session cost. If you don't have mental health coverage and finances are an issue, I recommend looking for low cost counseling services on https://openpathcollective.org/ This website features therapists who have agreed to see clients for $30-50 per session.
Third, and by far the most important, is a good fit with the therapist! I know it can feel a little, or maybe even a lot awkward, but I firmly believe in speaking directly with a therapist before scheduling an appointment. In my humble opinion, good therapists should offer a free brief phone consultation. There are a couple of reasons these are a very good idea. It gives you an opportunity to ask questions and the therapist an opportunity to learn more about why you are seeking treatment to help ensure they treat your identified issues. In addition, they will likely go over how to get started with them and hopefully put you more at ease with the process. It should also give you a reasonably good idea if this is someone you feel you can talk to and trust to help you. There are a lot of terrific and very skilled therapists out there, but we all have different styles and clients have unique needs. It is vitally important that a good fit is achieved in order for therapy to be successful. A healthy, solid therapist/client relationship can lead to incredible change for the client and a very rewarding experience for both! I wish you the best of luck in your search for a therapist and hope you find these tips helpful!