Feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, or simply yearning for greater fulfillment in life? Whatever prompts you to consider therapy, know that it could be one of the most transformative investments you make in yourself. While the prospect of finding a therapist and embarking on a therapeutic journey might seem overwhelming, you are not alone. Many individuals share these sentiments and face similar experiences. However, allowing discomfort to linger unchecked and deferring help until a crisis strikes can exacerbate the challenges down the road.
Just as we invest in our physical health through exercise and nutrition, investing in our mental and emotional health through therapy can yield substantial long-term benefits.
Tip #1 - You do not need to know exactly what you want to work on, or have a diagnosis.
You can possess insights into the areas you wish to address, or you can utilize therapy as a means of exploration to enhance your understanding and raise your awareness. Despite the initial impression, responding with "I don't know" to a question can frequently serve to facilitate meaningful dialogue.
Tip #2 - Finding therapists to contact: In-network insurance vs private pay.
If your goal is to find a therapist who is within your insurance network, then searching online is probably not the most effective use of your time, especially in larger California markets where I practice. The most efficient approach to narrowing down a list of potential providers covered by your insurance is to directly contact your insurance provider.
If you are comfortable with paying out-of-pocket or utilizing out-of-network benefits, your options for therapists expand significantly. In this case, many individuals turn to online platforms such as Google or PsychologyToday.com.
Tip #3 - Making the calls
Remember, you don't need to have complete clarity on every emotion you're experiencing or be able to express yourself perfectly. However, having a few initial questions prepared for introductory calls can be beneficial. For example, does the therapist specialize in a particular area, or what kinds of clients do they usually work with? What does a typical session look like? What is the fee per session?
If you have insights into specific therapy models and know what you're seeking, feel free to mention that during your inquiry. Alternatively, if you've come across various therapy types in articles or blogs but aren't sure about their meanings, that's perfectly fine too!
Tip #4 - Mix it up: Try to have a few different introductory calls.
There is no universal approach to therapy, as personal preferences vary. Speaking with 2 to 3 therapists can help you assess which one aligns best with your needs. Once you have identified someone who meets your needs, you can proceed to schedule therapy sessions with them.
Peter Gleiberman, Psy.D.
Licensed Psychologist, PSY 33347