Finding a therapist that matches your needs can be challenging, particularly if you live in a rural area or are limited by insurance options. You may consider cost, distance, specialty, and preferences when looking for a counselor in your area. There are a few ways you can get started in your search.
Connecting With A Professional Can Be Done From Home
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The First Steps To Choosing A Therapist
When you start your search for a therapist in your area, consider the following steps.
Outline Your Needs
Individuals attend therapy for various purposes, whether they hope to address life stressors, mental health conditions, or distressing symptoms. Think about why you want to attend therapy and what you’re looking for in a therapist. You might create a list with factors that are non-negotiable to you, such as:
When you meet with your therapist, they may ask you what you want to discuss and work on in your sessions. If you’re experiencing a mental health condition, such as depression, you might come with a list of symptoms that have been bothering you.
Choose A Specialty
Many therapists specialize in a particular area of mental health, whether it’s depression, anxiety, trauma disorders, or a unique type of therapy like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
To decide what you’re looking for, pinpoint your symptoms. You may choose to do research into effective types of therapy for your condition or symptoms. One standard counseling method is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), often referred to as talk therapy.
Once you’ve nailed down your needs, search for therapists in your area using your preferred search engine. Try to personalize your search by including the specialty you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a trauma therapist, you could search for “trauma therapist in (city name).”
When you’re just starting your search, you may need to contact several therapists before you find a match. If you’re looking for therapists through a search engine, write down the phone numbers and emails of the counselors that stick out to you.
Once you’ve found options, reach out through email or by phone. If you email a therapist, you might say something like:
I am interested in attending therapy for my depressive symptoms. I noticed you specialize in CBT for depression. I want to start counseling to learn new techniques for managing my symptoms. I have [Insurance Company Name] for insurance and was wondering if you are available and accept my insurance plan.
Reaching out through email can show therapists you are ready to get started. You may not hear back from some but keep trying. Someone could be a match.
Resources For Finding A Therapist Near Me
At times, searching for a therapist can be challenging. You might come across blocks, such as living in a small city or not having insurance. In these cases, your pool of potential therapists could be smaller. Try the following tips to widen your possibilities.
Some websites have a therapist search tool that can assist you in finding a therapist near you. The American Psychological Association has its own therapist finder tool that can connect you with practicing licensed therapists.
Searching for counselors on a mapping service like Google Maps may yield some results. The National Register of Health Service Psychologists also has an online search tool for finding therapists licensed to practice.
If you’re having difficulty finding a counselor online, your primary care physician may be able to refer you to a psychologist. To get a medical referral, you may need to discuss any psychological or distressing symptoms with your doctor. Ask them if they know of a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor in your area who takes your insurance plan.
As your doctor is a professional, they may have connections within the medical world that could lead you to a beneficial match. Additionally, your doctor may know more about your medical history and use it to make an informed choice when referring you for support.
Word Of Mouth
If you know someone in your personal life who attends therapy, ask them if they have any recommendations. You might not want to meet with a therapist who works with your friends or family. However, you could learn about a psychological association of therapists or someone’s past therapist that helped them.
Types Of Therapists Available
There are multiple types of practicing therapists and psychology professionals. If you’re looking for a counselor, you may choose between the following.
Counselors generally have a master’s degree in psychology. They may be labeled as:
LPC: Licensed Practicing Counselor
NCC: Nationally Certified Counselor
LMHC: Licensed Mental Health Counselor
RPT: Registered Child Therapist
A licensed counselor will go through the city, state, and country-wide licensure requirements, such as a certain number of hours in a clinical setting and a passing score on a licensure exam.
Counselors can practice psychotherapy and provide support in a clinical setting. They are not able to prescribe medication in most cases.
Social workers often utilize the acronyms LSW or LCSW. They may work with social groups, under-represented communities, human welfare organizations, non-profits, or in a counseling setting if licensed.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors that attend medical school, like other doctors. They may have a medical residency before practicing. Often, psychiatrists offer medication, diagnostic testing, and general psychological counseling.
Psychologists may work in a research-based setting, in a laboratory, or as medical doctors in some cases (such as neuropsychology). They may, at times, prescribe medication or perform diagnostic testing.
Behavioral specialists may or may not be licensed counselors. They might work in professional environments like group homes, schools, or community centers. They often have a degree in behavioral science. Behaviorists may work to inspire others to improve wanted behaviors through behavioral therapy techniques.
School Or Work Counselors
In some cases, counselors will work in an educational or professional setting, such as a school or workplace. They might offer career counseling, education advice, or work with students or employees to gain accommodations when needed.
What To Do If I Can’t Find A Therapist Near Me
If you’re struggling to find a therapist due to barriers to treatment or another reason, there are a few options you can consider.
Meet With A Medical Provider
If you cannot find a therapist due to your location, insurance, or cost barriers, you may be able to meet with your primary care physician for some types of treatment. Although general medical doctors are not licensed to provide therapy, they are often able to prescribe mental health medication for common conditions, such as anxiety, insomnia, or depression.
Additionally, a psychiatrist in your area may benefit you if you cannot find a therapist. Psychiatrists can provide therapy, medication, and diagnostic testing. Although many psychiatrists do not provide therapy services, there may be one in your area that does.
Find A Sliding Scale Therapist
In some cases, finances can be a barrier to finding quality treatment. If this is the case for you, search for a “sliding scale therapist near me.” Sliding scale often means you can pay what you can afford. In some cases, they may be able to lower your co-pay or work with your insurance company to reduce any financial burden.
See A School Or Work Therapist
If you are a university or college student, your school may have counseling resources at a low or affordable cost. Although it may not be ideal for long-term support, school counseling can be an option if you cannot find a counselor traditionally.
Often, companies may include brief counseling for their employees, such as a counseling phone line. If you are struggling, you can call this line or make an appointment with a company therapist. Although you might not be able to meet back-to-back with a company counselor, it can be a beneficial option for short-term stressors.
Commute To Therapy
You may consider commuting to therapy if you live in a rural area. If there’s a large city within an hour of your home, look into therapists in that area. If you do not have a vehicle or cannot commute, you might consider trying online therapy.
Connecting With A Professional Can Be Done From Home
Talk To A Therapist
Try Online Counseling
Online counseling is an option for those who face barriers to in-person counseling, such as cost, distance, or availability. Online counseling can be much more affordable, often costing around $50-$90 a session instead of the country average of $100-$200 a session.
Research on online mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy found that it was as effective as in-person counseling in treating conditions like anxiety and depression. Online counseling may be a beneficial choice if you’re struggling to find an in-person therapist.
You can sign up for online counseling in a few minutes through platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples.
When looking for a therapist near you, outline your expectations, try an online search, or seek a professional referral. If you face barriers during your search, you might consider alternative options, such as online therapy.
Counseling can be a beneficial tool for various mental health conditions, symptoms, and concerns. Seeking support for any reason can be a brave step, and there are resources to help you along the way.
Commonly Asked Questions
Below are some commonly asked questions about counseling and finding a therapist in your area.
What Questions Should I Ask A Therapist At My First Session?
When meeting with a therapist for the first time, consider asking the following questions or coming up with an inspired list:
What approach do you take to therapy?
Do you prefer to lead or let the client lead sessions?
What type of therapy do you practice?
What type of therapeutic relationship do you think is most beneficial?
How do you define success in therapy?
What is your cancelation policy?
What is your end goal for our time in therapy?
Is Getting A Therapist Worth It?
Therapy can be worth the effort if you find benefit from it. At times, the value gained from therapy can depend on the connection with your therapist, the cost-benefit, and whether you feel therapy is helping you with your concerns.
Therapy is often used as a tool to help clients in managing their symptoms. The tools you use in therapy are often taught to you to benefit you outside of the session. If you are utilizing what you learn in therapy and actively working toward your goals, you may find that therapy is worth it to you.
If you’re unsure what type of therapy you’d like to try, start by emailing counselors that look promising. For example, if you like one therapist’s website and approach to counseling, they may be a fit. When you reach out, communicate your symptoms and concerns and ask if they can support you with those symptoms.
If you’re interested in a specific type of therapy, you can narrow your search by researching it and the conditions it is often used to treat.