The first step towards a better life is always the most important one although it may be the hardest one to take. Finding a compatible local therapist isn’t impossible, but finding the right one can take a little bit of perseverance and a whole lot of patience. The best way to find the right therapist is by researching your options and coming up with an action plan.
If you need help finding a reputable therapist, we’re here to help! We’ll first explain the different types of therapists available. Then, we’ll uncover everything you should consider when searching for a reputable therapist near you.
What Kind of Therapist Do You Need?
Therapy is an umbrella term that is used to describe a multitude of professional specializations. This can certainly add an extra layer of confusion. We could spend an entire article breaking down just this one element, but in an effort to expedite your health care exploration, we’ll try to be as concise as possible.
There are three main types of therapists including psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers. Let’s take a more in-depth look into these next.
Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist.
In short, psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe drugs and typically diagnose and treat mental or psychiatric illnesses.
In contrast, psychologists hold a doctoral degree. They can offer a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling to help patients correct inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others.
Clinical Social Workers
Clinical social workers can be found in hospitals, schools, long-term care homes, and more. They require a license to practice and treat individuals, groups, or families through counseling and behavioral therapy.
Picking one out of the three starts by recognizing your end goals. Do you just want someone to talk to? Are you seeking a professional diagnosis for a mental or psychiatric illness? Maybe you just don’t have those answers yet, in which case a phone call with any one of the three will help point you in the right direction.
Are You Covered?
It’s truly unfortunate that therapy’s price tag prevents so many people from getting the help that they need. But there are ways to subsidize the cost of treatment, insurance coverage being one of them. If you do have insurance, be sure to check your policy to see if and how much coverage you’re entitled to receive.
Most health insurance companies include some layer of coverage, though your search for the perfect match may be limited to their list of in-network providers. If you don’t have coverage or prefer to go out on your own in search of a better fit, there are a few more tools available to you.
You may not feel open to talking about your ongoing search for a therapist with your family or friends, and that’s certainly ok. That said, if you are comfortable, you can try seeking recommendations from the people around you.
Further, prospective patients can receive referrals from their primary care physicians as well. Your family doctor is there to help guide all areas of your health and wellbeing, and you may find conversing with your doctor about therapy much more palatable. Doctors write referrals all the time and are often familiar with the ins and outs of practicing mental health professionals in and around your community.
If you aren’t covered by health insurance or choose to veer off of your insurance company’s in-network provider list, then you can find a reputable therapist by digging a little deeper. Web searches, local community groups, and online databases can pick up the slack for a lack of referral options.
First, you can try using Psychologist Locator which only requires your address to provide you with a comprehensive list of practicing psychologists in and around your community. You may also have success with AAMFT, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Their website can help you find the mental health support that you and your family need.
Finally, AGLP is an association of LGBTQ+ psychiatrists, and use their website to serve an essential role in connecting the members of that often underserved community with life-saving mental health services.
A personal review from a close friend or colleague is always preferable but that’s not to say that online reviews aren’t reputable. Once you’ve curated a list of available mental health professionals in your area, head on over to RateMDs or a comparable review site, and listen in on what their current and former patients are saying about them.
It’s important to take online reviews of any kind with a grain of salt, but their insight may help narrow down a large list of options.
Research has shown that the bond between you and your therapist can dramatically impact your growth. A productive relationship with your mental health professional is essential to the success of your treatment. As such, you really shouldn’t feel bad about moving on from one that isn’t working out for you.
You should feel reasonably comfortable in their presence, you should feel heard, you should feel confident about pursuing your treatment, and you should know where your treatment is headed. It’s important to keep all of this at the top of your mind, especially in your first few sessions, to ensure that the relationship with your new therapist isn’t hampering your treatment.
Spending years looking for the right therapist is not uncommon. It’s also not uncommon to depart from a therapist you’ve relied on for a long time in favor of a new and fresh approach.
Navigating therapy and experiencing true success can take time. Accepting that, and embracing the process, will help you long term. Finally, The important thing to keep in mind is that progress is never a straight line, and though the daily ups and downs can sometimes feel chaotic, the right therapist can help you find some much-needed balance.