How to Find a Therapist

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by analisa jayasekera, ma, lamft

It can be a challenge to find a good therapist.  You may feel nervous because it is something you have never done before. That is perfectly normal.  You may not know a single soul in therapy, so you don’t have any friends or family to ask. Or you might just feel plain awkward about asking a friend who does go to counseling for a recommendation. Your family may not believe in therapy, so you feel ashamed for even considering it.

There are many ways to find a therapist, but not all of them will lead to the perfect therapist for you.  Just like we aren’t best friends with everyone we meet, sometimes we click better with one counselor over another.   At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if the therapist is a good fit for you. But here are a few suggestions to get you started:

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Search online for therapists in your area.  

Spend some time looking over their websites and reading their blogs if they have one.  Chances are, after looking over a few counselors’ websites, you will find things that resonate with you.  Try not to get too overwhelmed and only visit a few pages before taking the next step of contacting them. Most therapists provide several ways to contact them, so if you don’t feel comfortable calling, it is likely you can just shoot them an email.  Even if you aren’t total sure you are ready to schedule, it is fine to email the therapist. They will most likely be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Call your insurance company.

If you have insurance and want to use it for counseling, you can call the Member Services number on the back of your card to see who is in your network.  It can be so disappointing when you find a good therapist, only to find out that they are not in your network and your out-of-network coverage is ridiculous.  So by starting with your insurance, they can suggest therapists who will be covered by your plan. They will likely ask what location you prefer in order to narrow the search down. They can also give you an estimate of your benefits, so you know what to expect when you have counseling sessions in terms of copays, coinsurance, or deductibles. (Yay, adulting.)  

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Ask a person in the helping profession.  

Maybe you have a friend or acquaintance who is in the helping profession, such as a doctor, nurse, or the school counselor at your children’s school. If you ask them, they may have some good recommendations.  People in these professions are used to providing resources, so they can be valuable people to ask.

All in all, it doesn’t really matter what avenue you use to find a therapist.  What’s most important is starting somewhere. Press send on that first email, even if you feel anxious about it.  Leave that voicemail, despite knowing you may nervously babble on. Even if the first therapist you see isn’t a good fit, you know more about the process than before you went.  That is good information, and will make finding the next one so much easier.