You’ve been thinking about it for a while and now you have taken the next step and decided to begin therapy. Although this is often the most difficult step to take, more work must be done before you find the right therapist and begin your journey of reflection and self-growth.
Where do I look?
Here are several different ways to find a therapist:
- Directories, such as Psychology Today often provide you with a detailed profile of the therapist you are considering.
- Online Searches: Googling therapists in your area will provide you with a list of names.
- Check out your insurance company’s website. Most insurance companies provide a listing of all the therapists in their network. If you plan on using your insurance for your sessions, this is a good way to determine who is in network.
- Another way to find a therapist is through word of mouth. Maybe your friend or coworker discusses the success they have experienced in therapy. You can always ask for information from other people.
Are we a good fit?
This is a very important question when beginning therapy. There are many therapists with different personalities and approaches. You want to make sure you are comfortable with your therapist. Otherwise, you will be less inclined to be open and you may not get the most out of the sessions.
Many therapists offer free consultations. These sessions are often shorter in length than a full session but allow you the opportunity to talk to the therapist without committing to a full session. Use this time to see if you feel that this is a good match. If not, keep looking for someone you will feel more comfortable with.
If a prospective therapist does not offer a free consultation, take a look at their website or profile. This may help you get an understanding of their approach and perspective on therapy.
How do I pay?
There are many factors to consider when selecting a therapist and having knowledge about your financial responsibility is imperative. You do not want to be unprepared if you have a copay or if your therapist does not accept your insurance.
If you plan on using your health insurance for your sessions, contact the therapist first to determine if they are in network. You may also want to contact the insurance company to find out what if any portion of the payment you are responsible for. This will vary for each insurance plan and company.
If you do not have insurance or your therapist is out of network, ask about the fees per session. You may be able to have out-of-network rates paid for by the insurance company if applicable. Again, this all depends on your specific insurance plan. Contact your insurance company for detailed information about your mental health benefits before scheduling an appointment.
What can I expect during my first session?
You have your financial responsibility for your session sorted out. You found the therapist you want to see. You scheduled your first appointment. Now what?
The first session is an opportunity for both the client and therapist to get to know each other. Oftentimes, an assessment may be conducted to determine the presenting problem. Many questions will be asked to help gain insight into your history and goals for therapy. Each session will build on the previous session. You are now on your way to self-reflection and growth.
One last thing…
Be proud of yourself for embarking on this courageous journey. It is not always an easy decision to make to begin therapy. For many, starting the process is the most difficult part of the journey. Therapy should help you look at yourself from a different lens with a therapist who is there to guide and support you on your journey of self-discovery.