Finding a Good Therapist

Being a mom is hard work. It’s hard physically, financially, and emotionally. Sometimes the weight of life’s burdens feels too heavy to hold, and you need help. Despite living in a society littered with self-help books and Facebook groups, there is still stigma around seeking professional help. As someone who’s been in and out of therapy for the past 15 years, I am a huge proponent of therapy. However, finding a therapist that is a good fit requires some work, and navigating the process can be quite daunting.

Assessing Your Needs

What are you struggling with? Anxiety? Panic attacks? Depression? Taking an easy online self-assessment can be a good place to start.

There are various types of mental health professionals depending on your level of need. Deciphering the alphabet soup after someone’s name is helpful :: Psy.D {doctor of psychology}, Ph.D. {doctor of philosophy in psychology}, LMFT {Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist}, LPC {Licensed Professional Counselor}, and LCSW {Licensed Clinical Social Worker}. There are also some broad categorizations that can be helpful to understand when figuring out what type of professional can best serve your needs…

  • Therapist / Social Worker :: A professional focused on helping individuals, families, and groups to develop skills and the ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems; provide support and guidance.
  • Psychologist :: Psychologists cannot prescribe medication. They focus on behavioral intervention through therapy and can diagnose disorders or problems in their patients. They determine appropriate treatments based on clinical diagnoses and observations.
  • Psychiatrists :: Psychiatrists can prescribe medications and are trained medical professionals. They focus on medication management.

If you face panic attacks, depression, or PTSD, look for a social worker or clinical psychologist. If you’re dealing with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia, your best bet is to see a psychiatrist or psychologist with experience in that area. Combining forces with BOTH a psychologist and psychiatrist is often a good route.

Finding a Mental Health Care Provider that Works For You

  • Self, Marital, or Family :: Are you looking to work on your self? Your marriage? Or your family? This will help determine the type of practitioner to look for.
  • Ask your primary care physician for a recommendation.
  • Word of Mouth :: Chances are, people you know are also visiting a mental health provider.
  • Your insurance website should have a list of covered providers.
  • Shop Around :: Just like searching for a place to eat, read reviews on therapists. Sites like Vitals, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades are a good place to start.
  • Psychology Today also has a great database.
  • Google Search :: What is this professional’s digital presence? Do they have a website? Social media?
  • CALL THEM :: Pick up the phone and give the practitioner a call. Tell them what you are looking to work on and ask if they might be a good fit.

Paying for Mental Health Care

Depending on your medical coverage, your insurance may cover certain kinds of mental health professionals. If you have coverage through the Affordable Care Act, mental health care is covered. If you have insurance through your employer, chances are it’s included as well. Just like with a visit to your primary care doctor, mental health treatment often requires a copay.

However, because of the challenges, some of the best practitioners don’t take insurance. If it is within your financial means, don’t rule them out.  See if they have payment plan options or find a way to include it in your monthly budget.  Your mental health is so important and worth every penny.

Also remember that therapists often operate on a “sliding scale.” If you can’t afford the fees, consider seeing an intern at a clinic. Often this is a graduate student getting experience, and you’ll get the discount.

Try It Out & Assess

Finding the right therapist can be a challenge. It’s like dating. Sometimes the first date is a bust and you’ve got to get back out there and try again.

Please Note :: I am not a mental health professional. I’m a mom who has been in therapy for many years and has learned a lot in the process. I hope that my experiences and insight help you, but please always consult a medical professional for guidance and next steps on your specific situation.


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