Check with your insurance!
Not all therapists accept all insurance. Check with your provider before starting your search. They should be able to provide you with a list of covered providers in your area.
Pro tip: Depending on how many sessions you are allocated per year it may be beneficial to start your search towards the end of the year. Then you can use all of your mental health sessions allowed by your insurance and continue through the new year uninterrupted.
Therapists are like boyfriends the first one may be nice but probably not who you are going to end up with. I’m a huge proponent of meeting with a therapist a few times to determine if they are the right fit for you. If at all possible try to call before going and have a short conversation with them about their specialty and how they conduct sessions. It will weed out prospects without wasting time for either of you.
You have every right to get to know your therapist to make sure they are someone you can open up to. Here are a few basic questions that will set you on your way.
- What type of therapy do you use?
- Do you give homework? What is a typical assignment?
- What is your philosophy about how people heal?
- Will you give me updates on my progress? How often?
- What insurance do you accept? How much do you charge? What are your sliding-scale options? Do you have payment plans
- What issues do you specialize in? Ex ADHD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, marriage, eating disorders, anger management, etc.
- What is the average length of therapy for your clients? *This answer is subjective based upon the level of trauma for each client.
- How do you set up counseling goals? What are they like? What is success for you?
- What is a typical session like? How long are the sessions?
- What licenses and certifications do you have and which professional organizations do you belong to?
Know what you are looking for
It is good to consider what issues you are facing before going to therapy. If you have an idea of what you need the most help in it will help you narrow down your therapist search. Most therapists have particular diagnoses that they enjoy working with and those that they hate. If you need assistance with anger management it doesn’t make sense for you to see a therapist who specializes in schizophrenia.
It’s okay to want a black, white, or purple therapist. Particularly, if you want your therapist to understand specific cultural problems that you may be facing. However, the race, sex, or sexual orientation of a therapist does not mean they will understand you completely. Being open to a therapist with a different background is a wonderful way to open you up to an alternate viewpoint.
Have realistic expectations
You will not mind-meld with your therapist in the first session.
You will have to explain yourself in detail
You will be uncomfortable at some point
You will be annoyed by them
They will never be able to read your mind
Your therapist will make a mistake
All of these things are normal and natural. Like I said finding a therapist is like finding a romantic partner and there will be growing pains. A quality therapeutic relationship always takes time and like any other relationship, it takes work. The more honest you are the more they can understand you. Be willing to correct them if they are wrong or making assumptions and be willing to hear them out if they aren’t.
Therapy resource for everyone
*I could not find resources specific to the Asian, Pacific Islander, White, or Native American populations. However, you can use psychology today and narrow your search preferences and find a therapist you connect with.
Resources for Black men
Resources for Black women
Resources for Latinx people
Resources for LGBTQ people