iQuanti: You don’t need a big reason to seek help from a mental health professional. In fact, most people could probably benefit from speaking to a therapist. But how do you go about finding a therapist? The options can be overwhelming—for example, if you live in a major city, there are likely thousands of licensed therapists to choose from. How do you find the right one to help you with your mental health concerns? Here are five steps to get you started:
Get a recommendation
Close friends and family members can be great resources for referrals. If someone you trust is seeing a therapist or has seen a therapist in the past, ask that person if they can give you a recommendation. If they don’t feel comfortable referring you to their own therapist, perhaps they could ask their therapist to refer you to someone else.
Another option is to talk to your primary care physician. Medical professionals often have a network of trusted specialists that they can reach out to, including therapists. Ask your doctor if they’ve referred patients to therapists in the past and if they could do the same for you.
Search the internet
The internet is your best friend for gathering information. For example, simply typing “therapy in Charlotte” into a general search engine will start you on your journey. To narrow your search further, you might look at mental health association websites and directories, which offer information on mental health disorders as well as licensed therapists. These sites allow you to filter for location, specialty, insurance, fees, and other things. Often therapists will include a picture of themselves on these sites, along with a description of their credentials and services, as well as how to contact them.
Go through your insurance
You might be able to find in-network therapists through your insurance company’s provider directory. Many directories allow you to narrow down by zip code and specialties. Choose a few therapists who are in your area, and then look at their websites or profiles. Cross-check their qualifications and read reviews to get a sense if they are the kind of therapists you’re looking for.
Check with your employee assistance program
Does your employer have an employee assistance program? EAPs offer resources to help employees get through personal challenges so that they can remain productive at their jobs. This system would likely include mental health services such as assessments, short-term counseling, and therapist referrals-all of which would be confidential and at no cost.
Questions to ask once you’ve found a therapist
Once you’ve landed on a few options, it’s time to figure out which therapist is best for your needs. Therapists often offer a short, free consultation for this purpose. Here are some questions you might want to ask before committing to an appointment:
Questions about the basics
- How long have you been a licensed therapist?
- Where did you go to school?
- What certifications do you have?
- How many clients do you have?
- How much do you charge? Do you accept my health insurance?
- What does your availability look like?
- What is your cancellation policy?
Questions about the fit
- What is your practice’s philosophy? Introspective or action-oriented? Are you directive or does your client lead the sessions?
- Do you specialize in specific issues?
- What motivated you to become a therapist?
- When was the last time you worked with someone with a problem like mine?
- How would we meet—in person, by phone, online, or a mixture of all?
- How often will I meet with you? Are you available in between sessions?
- What does a typical session look like?
- What do you expect from your patients?
- How do I get ready for my first therapy session?