Finding the Right Therapist for You
Therapy should not be like a one-size-fits-all pair of pants.
When we do something for the first time, it can be very scary, especially something as vulnerable as looking for a therapist. You may not know where to start, who is credible or the different letters behind someone’s name means.
As Brene Brown says, “FFT’S- Fucking First Time’s” are hard by nature because we have never done it before! We tend to be hard on ourselves and get frustrated. The first step is naming or FFT by saying “this is the first time I am looking for a therapist and it is hard and I don’t know what I am doing.” Next, we normalize discomfort and can reality check our experience.
Why does fit matter so much?
Therapeutic rapport (a fancy word for relationship) is the cornerstone for most forms of therapy. To develop good rapport, your therapist must listen, be respectful, provide validation, understanding and empathy.
Research has shown that developing a good rapport improves successful outcomes in therapy. I believe that we cannot truly open up and feel safe enough to heal if we do not feel connected to the therapist we are working with.
Attributes of a Good Therapist
- They are genuine
- They provide space and time for you to bring up concerns or topics you want to share
- They ask for your feedback
- You feel safe
- They ensure confidentiality (unless you are at risk to yourself or someone else)
- You feel you can trust them
- Provide supportive nonverbal cues, including eye contact and nodding in agreement.
- Encourage you to be active in your treatment
- Make you feel empowered
Types of Therapists
There are many different career paths/degrees that one can get to become a therapist. They are all equally credible. Your therapist may have a masters degree or a doctorate degree.
- MSW- Master of Social Work
- Phd- Doctor in Philosophy
- Psy D- Doctor of Psychology
- MFT- Marriage and Family Therapist
- LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor
- MD- Doctor of Medicine (Psychiatrist- prescribes medication)
**If there is a “L” in front of the letters it means they are fully licensed and if there is a “LL”it means they hold a limited license
Questions to ask a new therapist
- What types of therapy do you provide?
- What are your areas of expertise/specialization?
- How much experience do you have in treating my issues and concerns?
- Is therapy offered in person or online?
- What are the fees for therapy? Is insurance accepted?
- How are cancellations or missed appointments handled?
- How long are sessions?
- How often do we meet?
In network versus out of network
“In network” means that a therapist takes your insurance while “out-of-network” means that a therapist does not take your insurance.
You can verify if a therapist takes your insurance by calling the number on your insurance card or going to your insurance website and providing their name and information. Keep in mind that when using insurance, most plans have a deductible, copays and/or coinsurance so it does not mean that your service will be free or low cost.
If a therapist that you find is “out-of-network,” you can check to see if you have “out- of-network” benefits. Below are questions you can ask your insurance to verify:
- Do I have out -of- network benefits?
- What is my out-of-network deductible for outpatient mental health visits?
- How much of my deductible has been met this year?
- What is my out-of-network coinsurance for outpatient mental health visits?
- Do I need a referral from an in-network provider or a primary care physician to see someone out-of-network?
- How do I submit claims for out-of-network reimbursement?
- Are virtual outpatient mental health visits (or teletherapy) covered by my plan?