Finding a therapist especially online is easier than ever. The COVID crisis opened up so many online options for therapy. Even traditional office therapists have approval from insurance companies to conduct virtual sessions. There are now so many options that it can sometimes be confusing.
Where to begin
First and foremost – check with family, friends and people close to you for recommendations. If you are shy about doing that and feel like this is your business – not theirs, you still have options. Simple google searches will give you options and then search around for reviews. Ultimately, if you set up a therapy session you can always not continue, and search for someone who is a better fit for your needs. The therapist has to be right for you.
What are your needs
Not all therapists are the same. First of all do you need a psychiatry to be in person or do you prefer telepsychiatry? Some specialize in couples, post traumatic stress, depression, obsessive compulsive concerns and more. Understanding the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is important. A psychiatrist is more medication management for issues such as major depressive disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia, or even borderline personality disorder – just to name a few. Psychiatrists are medical doctors while psychologists focus more on talk therapy, art therapy, music therapy etc…
Good match for you
Your therapist needs to be a good match for you. Although a friend of yours may sing the praises of a certain therapist – that doesn’t mean you will have that same connection. It is not uncommon for someone to take a little time to find just the right person for their needs and personality. For your therapy to be successful, you need to have a stronger therapeutic connection with the therapist you choose. You might feel that you need somebody who is reliable, warm, and even within your price range. Additionally, do not expect to become friends with your therapist. Not only is that not their role but it is also not ethical. Your relationship simply needs to be one where you can be honest with yourself and your therapist.
That first appointment
Chances are you have gone online and looked for reviews and ratings before you even have that first contact with the therapist. I know I do when it comes to my medical doctors and specialists. I have learned along the way that you can’t please everyone and some of my favorite specialists that I would not change for the world do not have the greatest ratings. If you look at the ratings sometimes it isn’t even about the medical professional. Often they are about the way a person was treated when entering the office, or while waiting for the doctor. You should be wary of those 5 star reviews just as much as the 3 star reviews. Most times the truth lies somewhere in between and only you can be the judge if the therapist is appropriate for your needs. You have nothing to lose by setting up an introductory session with no obligation to continue.
If you have insurance, it is important to know what your benefits are and if the provider participates in those options and what types of sessions will your insurance cover. Sometimes the therapist may offer a cash rate if you don’t have insurance and it may be significantly lower than the rate charged through insurance. I know my mother in law pays cash for her dentist and what she pays is significantly less than what my dental insurance would be charged for the same services. There are even free online therapy options to help you get some services.
Therapy can be tough to define a timeframe. Maybe you only need to see your therapist once a week for a few months. Other times your needs may benefit by twice a week for a year or more. Either way the goal is not to be in therapy for a lifetime but through time your needs may change and evolve so it is best to not have a specific cutoff day/date in mind. And understanding that even if you stop for a period of time, keeping the relationship open so you can seek assistance as needs arise will be very helpful.