How can I Find a Therapist?

Dana Hinders

If you are struggling with a personal crisis and looking for some expert assistance, figuring out how to find a therapist may seem like an overwhelming job. However, most communities do have qualified counselors available to help with mental health issues ranging from anxiety and depression to serious eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Finding a therapist that fits your needs simply requires a bit of research.

A therapist's gender might be an important factor to some people.
A therapist's gender might be an important factor to some people.

If you have health insurance, the first step in working to find a therapist is seeing what your policy offers for mental health coverage. Some plans will only cover visits to counselors in a particular network or approve a limited number of sessions per year. If you have no insurance or insurance that doesn’t offer mental health coverage, however, this doesn’t mean you must forgo the treatment you need. Ask the nearest free medical clinic for a referral to a therapist in your area; many are willing to work with patients for a minimal fee.

Online directories can offer information about local therapists.
Online directories can offer information about local therapists.

There are a number of online directories available to help you find a therapist. Most will allow you to search by criteria such as state, distance from your home zip code, and the therapist’s professional specialty. The best review sites will also offer some overview of the therapist’s credentials, such as the school he/she attended and what professional associations he/she belongs to. Some sites may even feature reviews of the therapist from former patients, although you should always view these testimonials with a fair degree of skepticism. Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, people may say things in a testimonial that don’t necessarily match their real-life opinion.

The first step for individuals who have health insurance is ensuring that their individual plan covers mental health.
The first step for individuals who have health insurance is ensuring that their individual plan covers mental health.

Once you’ve made a list of the therapists in your community, it may be helpful to spend some time thinking about any special needs you have. For example, some people feel more comfortable talking to a therapist of the same gender. Your feelings about prescription medications are another issue to consider as well; if you are adamantly opposed to antidepressants and other mood-altering drugs, you’ll do better seeking a counselor who places a high emphasis on cognitive behavioral therapy.

Since the process of undergoing therapy involves sharing personal and private information, it’s important to find a therapist you can trust. Feel free to choose a different counselor if you’re not comfortable with the first therapist you’ve selected. Even if a particular therapist is highly qualified, you’ll get better results when you have a strong rapport with your counselor.

It is important to find a trustworthy therapist.
It is important to find a trustworthy therapist.

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