Psychotherapy individual session

6 Easy Steps to Finding a Therapist

“I love therapy! There is nothing like talking to someone who has no emotional tie to your life.”

– Eva Mendes

Are you going through a difficult time in your life that you can’t seem to escape from? Do you think no one cares or could possibly understand what you’re going through?

If so, therapy may be right for you. Or perhaps you’re already at a point where you’ve decided to give therapy a try. But the prospect of finding a therapist may cause you to pause, simply because it seems impossible.

I won’t lie – the thought of looking for a therapist can be daunting.

Between figuring out what kind of therapy you’d benefit from or finding someone that you vibe with, it can easily feel like you’re wasting a lot of time and money looking for the right therapist. However, with a goal in mind and a plan in place, finding a therapist doesn’t have to be scary.

When I made the transition from teenager to adult, and was finally in charge of my mental health, one of the first things I did was search for a therapist.

But the sad and frustrating part was that the resources for finding a therapist simply weren’t there. It was excruciating to find a therapist and it often left me wondering if it was even worth it.

As someone who is no stranger to therapy, I know how intimidating it can be.

Due to several different moves (even one across the country), I personally have had to search for a new therapist countless times. After years of going through several different therapists, I eventually began to develop a basic routine of how I search for a new one.

So, save a lot of time, hassle, and frustration by considering the following, easy peasy steps to finding a therapist.

1. Determine what you can afford.

Everyone has a different budget when it comes to healthcare. And if you reside in the United States, mental health care is oftentimes expensive and can feel out of reach.

Trust me – I’ve been there and know how disheartening it can be. You’re only trying to better yourself and the price tag for mental health care can alone stop you in your tracks.

Please do not be discouraged. One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot more options available these days than there used to be.

First things first – before making any phone calls or sending any emails to potential counselors, figure out what you can pay. This way, you can start eliminating any contenders that go beyond your budget.

If you determine that you can’t afford therapy, don’t give up hope. There are several different low-cost options, even some that are free.

Google can definitely be your friend here. Search “free therapy” or “low-cost therapy” and include the city or state you live in within your search criteria. Replace the word “therapy” with “counseling” in the search bar to reveal even broader results.

Also, consider reaching out to local schools and universities in your area to see what options they provide. If you’re religious, you may even reach out to your church for faith based counseling. Some of these services may even come at no cost to you. 

With mental health becoming more and more of a focus, many counseling centers offer therapy services on a sliding scale pay system.

Slide scale simply means that the cost of therapy sessions are based on your income. So, if you see a therapist charging $150 per session, don’t assume that’s the minimum. Ask if they offer sliding scale therapy before ruling out a particular therapist.

2. Find out what your health insurance covers.

If you have health insurance, whether with your employer or on your own, take advantage of any mental health benefits it may provide.

And if you don’t know if your insurance covers any mental health services, visit the website of your health insurance provider and create an account to locate detailed information about your coverage. 

If you’re still uncertain what your health insurance covers, locate a member services number on the insurer’s website, or look on the back of your health insurance card. Insurer’s websites sometimes offer a chat feature to talk to a representative, or may even allow you to submit your questions via email or a contact form.

Next, find a therapist that accepts your insurance just like you would any other medical provider. One roadblock that I have personally run into is that a lot of therapists won’t even accept health insurance as they don’t want the burden of dealing with insurance companies. 

If you do find someone that seems like a perfect fit but doesn’t accept insurance, you can still attempt to submit information to your insurance for possible reimbursement.

But keep in mind, your therapist would be considered an out-of-pocket provider. I would ask your therapist if they can help provide the information you need to be able to submit claims on your own.

3. Define your goals & consider different therapists for different needs.

Like most things, it’s important to sit down and write out your therapy goals.

Knowing what you want before diving into therapy can help you save a lot of time and money. There are so many different specialties when it comes to therapy that it can easily become overwhelming. You can engage in individual therapy, couples counseling, or even group therapy.

As you embark on your therapy journey, you may come to realize that different therapists might be better for different needs.

Certain therapists specialize in certain kinds of therapy, such as addiction therapy, art therapy, EDMR therapy (eye movement desensitization and processing therapy), music therapy, family therapy, and talk therapy. Hone in on what you are struggling with the most and tailor your search to the kind of therapy that you need. 

One thing to keep in mind is that your goals will change over time.

I have personally seen different therapists for different needs and it has made a world of difference. There was once a point where I was seeing three different people, one for individual therapy, one for group therapy, and another for yoga therapy for trauma. (I endured trauma as a child and yoga therapy helped with releasing stored trauma). 

But don’t think you have to do it all at once. Pace yourself and tackle one area at a time if needed. You may not be able to afford to see different therapists at the same time, and that’s totally okay. I was just personally in a spot at that time where I was able to do all three at once.

4. Ask your primary doctor for referrals.

Your primary care provider can be a great resource for finding therapists in your area. And sometimes, they may even have names of those that you weren’t able to find on the Internet. 

I have personally done this when I moved out of state and found myself in a new place. My doctor had an information sheet readily available with a list of recommended providers in the area. Some of those recommendations even included low or no cost options.

It never hurts to ask, and if they don’t have a list handy, some doctors may even offer to take the time and find some recommendations for you.

5. Be okay with not finding the perfect therapist the first time.

I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes, it takes a few tries before finding a therapist that you jive with. There are some who actually do get lucky and find their ideal therapist on the first try. But sometimes, you know right away that a particular therapist isn’t going to work. And that’s okay.

Do know that you aren’t stuck with a therapist.

If you aren’t connecting with a particular therapist, or you feel that you’re not getting anything out of, find someone new. Don’t waste your time and money with someone who isn’t going to help you reach your goals. This is about you and your mental health, it’s not about them.

6. Consider non-traditional therapy.

The world of healthcare has drastically changed in the past few years. The pandemic caused us to approach life differently and telehealth quickly became the new norm. The same has happened with therapy as well.

Before COVID, I saw my therapist full-time at her office. But since the pandemic, all of my sessions are now conducted online. 

I admit, I was hesitant at first. I didn’t think I would receive the same kind of care or that I would benefit from meeting with a therapist online. But I can honestly say that I haven’t seen any negative outcomes.

In fact, I believe it’s been better for me. I don’t have to deal with traffic or sitting in an awkward waiting room. And if I’m having a particularly difficult day, I am more likely to show up to my sessions rather than canceling.

If online therapy sounds like something you would like to try, the pandemic has made it easier than ever before. There are plenty of online therapy providers that have completely changed the therapy landscape. Just conduct an online search, and you are sure to find several different options.

I hope you find this list helpful if you’re considering therapy. Please know that it can take some time to find the perfect balance for your mental health. But if you’re in a dark place, therapy is easier to access than ever before.

I know firsthand that the search for a therapist is a daunting endeavor. I applaud you for taking the first step to finding a therapist and attempting to better yourself. That first step alone can be the most difficult, especially if you find yourself surrounded by others who may think therapy is pointless.

Therapy literally saved my life. I shudder to even think where I would be today if I didn’t continue with therapy. There have been so many times where I have felt completely alone or felt as though I didn’t have anyone to talk to, even when I was surrounded by people.

But therapy changed all of that for me. I finally had someone I could go to without any judgment or agenda, other than helping me meet my goals. Don’t give up hope – therapy may very well change your life too.

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What challenges have you encountered when searching for a therapist? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. 

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16 thoughts on “6 Easy Steps to Finding a Therapist

  1. Thank you for putting together such a great list of easy steps to finding a therapist! Like you mentioned, it’s important that people know that they can switch therapists if they’re not a good fit.

    1. Yes, I think people are afraid they’re stuck with someone they’re not clicking with. But that’s not the case. 🙂

  2. Such a great post and so informative…I know that finding a therapist can be a very daunting task, but your post really helps make it sound less scary and a lot more accessible. I’ve been enjoying all of your posts to be honest, mental health and self-care are so important and not talked about enough…so your sharing these topics is wonderful and appreciated!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I agree, mental health isn’t talked about enough, which was part of my inspiration for starting this blog.

  3. I haven’t sought out therapy yet, but it’s crossed my mind a few times. I would certainly benefit from it. I have a friend and a kid who both do online therapy. That would be so convenient. Maybe I will look into it yet!

  4. Finding an online therapist sounds like a great idea. Not only are you more apt to keep your appointment — like you said — it saves so much time and energy.

  5. These are excellent tips for find a therapist. It seems so important to find one that is a good match.

  6. Such a very informative post on finding a therapist in 6 easy steps. Thank you for sharing.

  7. It was helpful when you said to figure out what your goals are. For the past couple of years, I have struggled with pretty severe anxiety, and I decided that I want to start getting the proper help for it by seeing a therapist after suffering on my own for a long time. I’ll keep these tips in mind as I search for a therapist that can help me with my anxiety.

    1. I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling with anxiety. It can feel extremely lonely. I may be biased, but therapy has been a game changer for my anxiety. I’m so glad these tips can help you during your search for a therapist. Good luck!

  8. You made an excellent point to consult a therapist for mental health if you’re struggling with trauma. I like how these professionals specialize in different types of therapies to help you. I will keep this in mind if any of my friends experience these issues someday.

  9. My niece seems to have developed PTSD because of the bullying she had been through in her last school, so I plan to let her see a therapist who can help her soon. It’s good that you mentioned that therapists have specializations too, which is why we should define our goals and what we want to achieve with therapy to help us choose a therapist to consider. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for a therapist in Kansas City who has experience counseling teens to consider for my niece.

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