Trying to find a mental health therapist can seem overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you know if a counselor accepts insurance and can address your specific needs? It can take a while to get from the point of realizing we need help to actually reaching out for it, but don’t let not knowing where to start keep you from taking the next step. As I’ve navigated my own mental health needs, I’ve discovered a few different approaches that are helpful to find a mental health therapist that’s right for you.
Start With Your Insurance Company (If You Have One)
Most insurance companies will provide a list of local providers on their websites. There is usually a section that will say “find care” or “find a doctor” where you can specify that you are looking for a counselor/therapist. You will be given a list of providers that accept your insurance plan nearby. Many insurance plans can also help you find virtual services if that is what you are looking for.
You may find that some of the names on your insurance plan are outdated. It is not uncommon for it to take some calling around to find a counselor who both accepts your insurance and has availability for new patients.
Ask For Recommendations
Referrals from people you know can often be the quickest way to find a great provider who is well-trusted in the community. Try asking friends, family, clergy, or a local Facebook group. It can often bolster your confidence to hear about positive experiences others have had with that provider. Community groups on social media are a wealth of information and also a source of support. Search for your city, county, or even neighborhood to connect and ask questions. Don’t know where to start? Try one of our Collin County Moms Neighborhood Groups.
Search on Psychology Today’s Website
On PsychologyToday.com you can search for providers and filter the results by many different factors such as location, type of condition or therapy desired, and insurance type. You can even search for specific needs such as language spoken, ethnicity served, faith type, and LGBTQ+ Affirming therapists.
PsychologyToday.com is also a helpful site for looking up more information about a therapist you found from your insurance list or referrals/recommendations you’ve received (if they have a profile on the site). You can read a short bio about them, what they specialize in, and find links to their website or email. Psychology Today is a very convenient place to find lots of information so you can make the best choice for your needs.
Next Steps after Choosing a Mental Health Therapist
Make a call or send an email to the provider(s) you are interested in working with. Keep it simple so you don’t feel too overwhelmed. All you need to start with is telling them your name, and that you are interested in therapy for XYZ issue, and asking what the next step is. You don’t need to give all the details immediately. They will guide you through the rest. Just get that email or call DONE and off your list.
I know how scary that first call can be, but I promise you that asking for help is worth it. Doing something new always feels uncomfortable at first, but it gets better. My experience is that once you get that first call or email out of the way, things feel a lot easier and less overwhelming after that. If it takes you a while to be seen, try not to get discouraged. Many therapists are seeing a surge of patients due to Covid, but many will try to work with you to get you in.
Please remember that you are not alone, and needing therapy isn’t a sign of weakness. Mental illness needs professional help just like any other illness. It is brave to reach out for help and you should not feel ashamed for doing so. You can do this!
Let us know what has worked for you in the comments.