Just as the benefits of therapy have been proven and accepted as never before, finding a therapist—let alone the right therapist—has never been more challenging. It may seem the problem is a shortage of providers, yet the opposite is the truth. So, what’s going on?
I receive many calls and messages every week from people shopping for a therapist. Through these conversations, I hear the frustrations people face in their search. Even if I am not a good match for whatever reason, I do my best to educate the caller to help them in their search. Here are some of my suggestions that make shopping a little less painful and a lot more productive.
- Do your homework first. Randomly calling a list of mental health clinicians and hoping for the right one to appear as if by magic is not a good plan or an efficient use of your time. Most professionals today have a website where you can learn about credentials, education, experience, specialties and practice policies.
- If you are looking for a therapist who accepts your insurance for payment, first get the list of approved providers from your insurance company, and then pick up the phone. Otherwise you may fill up your time calling dozens of people yet be no closer to getting that so-important first meeting scheduled.
- Try not to be confused by specific licenses as there are multiple. My own is probably the most confusing, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, as we see individuals as much if not more than couples and families, and couples are not necessarily married.
- Use caution in booking the first appointment you can find as an emotional reaction to some stressful life event. Rarely does a serious problem surface overnight, and it will likely not be resolved overnight, either. Find a good therapist for you, not just whoever is available.