Finding the right therapist that matches your needs can be challenging, particularly if you live in a rural area or are limited by the coverage from your insurance. The factors you may consider include cost, distance, specialty, and preferences when looking for a counselor in your area. Here are the ways you can get started in your search.
The First Steps To Choosing A Therapist
When you start your search for a therapist in your area, consider the following steps.
Outline Your Needs
- Insurance coverage
When you meet with your therapist, they may ask you what you want to discuss and work on in your sessions. If you’re experiencing a mental health condition, such as depression, you might come with a list of symptoms that have been bothering you.
Choose A Specialty
Many therapists specialize in a particular area of mental health, whether it’s depression, anxiety, trauma disorders, or a unique type of therapy like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or addiction counseling.
To decide what you’re looking for, pinpoint your symptoms. You may choose to do research into effective types of therapy for your condition or symptoms. One standard counseling method is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), often referred to as talk therapy.
Once you’ve nailed down your needs, search for therapists in your area using your preferred search engine. Try to personalize your search by including the specialty you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a licensed marriage and family therapist, you could search for “marriage and family therapist in (city name).”
When you’re just starting your search, you may need to contact several therapists before you find a match. If you’re looking for therapists through a search engine, write down the phone numbers and emails of the counselors that stick out to you.
Once you’ve found options, reach out through email or by phone. If you email a therapist, you might say something like:
I am interested in attending therapy for my depressive symptoms. I noticed you specialize in CBT for depression. I want to start counseling to learn new techniques for managing my symptoms. I have [Insurance Company Name] for insurance and was wondering if you are available and accept my insurance plan.
Reaching out through email can show therapists you are ready to get started. You may not hear back from some but keep trying. Someone could be a match.
Resources For Finding A Counselor
How can I find therapists near me or psychiatrists near me? Why is it hard to find teen counseling near me? Why does it feel like there are no family therapists in my town? At times, searching for therapists can be challenging. You might come across blocks, such as living in a small city or not having insurance. In these cases, your pool of potential therapists could be smaller. Try the following tips to widen your possibilities.
Some websites have a therapist search tool that can assist you in finding a therapist near you. In learning how to check if a therapist is licensed, the American Psychological Association has its therapist finder tool that can connect you with practicing licensed therapists.
Searching for counselors on a mapping service like Google Maps may yield some results. The National Register of Health Service Psychologists also has an online search tool for finding therapists licensed to practice.
If you’re having difficulty finding a counselor online, your primary care physician may be able to refer you to a psychologist. To get a medical referral, you may need to discuss any psychological or distressing symptoms with your doctor. Ask them if they know of a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor in your area who takes your insurance plan.
As your doctor is a professional of public health, they may have connections within the medical world that could lead you to a beneficial match. Additionally, your doctor may know more about your medical history and use it to make an informed choice when referring you for support.
Word Of Mouth
If you know someone in your personal life who attends therapy, ask them if they have any recommendations. You might not want to meet with a therapist who works with your friends or family. However, you could learn about a psychological association of therapists or someone’s past therapist that helped them.
Types Of Therapists Available
There are multiple types of practicing therapists and psychology professionals. If you’re looking for a counselor, you may choose between the following:
Counselors generally have a master’s degree in psychology. They may be labeled as:
- LPC: Licensed Practicing Counselor
- NCC: Nationally Certified Counselor
- LMHC: Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- RPT: Registered Child Therapist
A licensed counselor will go through the city, state, and country-wide licensure requirements, such as a certain number of hours in a clinical setting and a passing score on a licensure exam.
Counselors can practice psychotherapy and provide support in a clinical setting. Counselors are also authorized to perform therapy in group settings as well. They are not able to prescribe medication in most cases.
Social workers often utilize the acronyms LSW or LCSW. They may work with social groups, under-represented communities, human welfare organizations, non-profits, or in a counseling setting is licensed.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors that attend medical school, like other doctors. They may have a medical residency before practicing. Often, psychiatrists offer medication, diagnostic testing, and general psychological counseling.
Psychologists may work in a research-based setting, in a laboratory, or as medical doctors in some cases (such as neuropsychology). They may, at times, prescribe medication or perform diagnostic testing.
Behavioral specialists may or may not be licensed counselors. They might work in professional environments like group homes, schools, or community centers. They often have a bachelor's degree in behavioral science, and, depending on the state, a Master's degree as well. Behaviorists may work to inspire others to improve wanted behaviors through behavioral therapy techniques.
School Or Work Counselors
In some cases, counselors will work in an educational or professional setting, such as a school or workplace. They might offer career counseling, education advice, or work with students or employees to gain accommodations when needed.
What To Do If You Can’t Find A Mental Health Professional
If you’re struggling to find a therapist due to barriers to treatment or another reason, there are a few options you can consider.
Meet With A Medical Provider
If you cannot find a therapist due to your location, insurance, or cost barriers, you may be able to meet with your primary care physician for some types of treatment. Although general medical doctors are not licensed to provide therapy, they are often able to prescribe mental health medication for common conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, or depression.
Additionally, a psychiatrist in your area may benefit you if you cannot find a therapist. Psychiatrists can provide therapy, medication, and diagnostic testing. Although many psychiatrists do not provide therapy services, there may be one in your area that does.
Find A Sliding Scale Therapist
In some cases, finances can be a barrier to finding quality treatment. If this is the case for you, search for a “sliding scale.” Sliding scale often means you can pay what you can afford. In some cases, they may be able to lower your co-pay or work with your insurance company to reduce any financial burden.
See A School Or Work Therapist
If you are a university or college student, your school may have counseling resources at a low or affordable cost. Although it may not be ideal for long-term support, school counseling can be an option if you cannot find a counselor traditionally.
Often, companies may include brief counseling for their employees, such as a counseling phone line. If you are struggling, you can call this line or make an appointment with a company therapist. Although you might not be able to meet back-to-back with a company counselor, it can be a beneficial option for short-term stressors.
Commute To Therapy
You may consider commuting to therapy if you live in a rural area. If there’s a large city within an hour of your home, look into therapists in that area. If you do not have a vehicle or cannot commute, you might consider trying online therapy.
Try Online Counseling
Online counseling is an option for those who face barriers to in-person counseling, such as cost, distance, or availability. Online counseling can be much more affordable, often costing around $50-$90 a session instead of the country average of $100-$200 a session.
Research on online mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy found that it was as effective as in-person counseling in treating conditions like anxiety and depression. Online counseling may be a beneficial choice if you’re struggling to find an in-person therapist.
Online Therapy - How Therapists Can Help You Today
The benefit you may find in online therapy is that there are many ways to communicate with your therapist. You can direct message your therapist through text, talk to therapists on the phone, or video chat with your counselor. You get to decide which kind of discreet communication works best for you. Whereas with a traditional therapist, you are limited in how you speak with one another. Many therapists who work in non-public practice don't offer phone or Skype sessions. Online therapy allows people who are too busy or people who struggle with certain issues like social anxiety, the ability to see a therapist in the comfort of their home or wherever is convenient for them.
BetterHelp's network of licensed therapists offers experts on hundreds of topics. Online treatment is growing in popularity, and since you'll find so many different providers to choose from, you'll likely find someone who meets your needs. Whether you're working with an individual therapist, a couple's counselor, or a family therapist you can get the right treatment for yourself. Read below to find some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing a variety of life's challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is BetterHelp Right For Me?
BetterHelp may be right for you if you want to improve your quality of life. Whenever there is anything that interferes with your happiness or prevents you from achieving your goals, we may be able to help. We also have counselors who specialize in specific issues such as stress, anxiety, relationships, parenting, depression, addictions, eating, sleeping, trauma, anger, family conflicts, LGBT matters, grief, religion, self-esteem, and more.
How do I know what kind of counseling I need?
Finding the right therapist for you depends on your specific needs and goals from therapy. To figure out what kind of therapist you would benefit from seeing, you may want to make a list of therapeutic goals or search online for therapy modalities that you are interested in trying. From there, you can ask your therapist in consultation if they can provide the services you’re seeking.
What's the difference between a psychologist and a therapist?
The difference between a psychologist and a therapist is that a psychologist has a doctorate-level degree, like a Ph.D. or PsyD, while a therapist has a minimum of a master’s degree.
How do I choose a counselor?
Should I see a therapist or a psychiatrist?
Both therapists and psychiatrists can help people who are experiencing mental health concerns. Since psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental illness and can prescribe medication, some people who are considering trying medication for their mental health may want to see a psychiatrist.
How often should you go to counseling?
There is no set number of times per week or per month that someone should see their therapist. Everyone’s situation differs, so it’s important to work out a schedule with your therapist that works well for you and the situations you’ll be addressing in therapy.
Is paying for mental health help worth it?
Whether someone needs assistance with stress management, trauma, their love life, or another area of life, many find that the financial investment in therapy is worth the benefits they receive from seeing a professional.
How long does counseling last on average?
Therapy can last anywhere from a few weeks to many years, depending on each person’s unique situation.
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