There is nothing wrong with wanting to go to therapy. Let’s say that one more time: there is nothing wrong with wanting to go to therapy. If you are considering finding a therapist that is right for you and at the right price point, this article is for you.
Popular Chicago-based therapist, Rachel Kazez, recently spoke to Tonic to share her tips for getting you from point A to point “I found who/what I was looking for!”
PHOTO: The Breakup Queen
The first step after deciding you want to give therapy a try is to figure out what kind of therapy you are interested in, or the type of therapist you are seeking. Kazez encourages you not to be discouraged if your first call or trip does not go as planned, or you find they do not offer the treatment you are looking for. Once you find a place you feel good about, they should be able to provide you more information to get you to the next step.
“Often the process of doing an initial assessment, or intake or whatever it’s called at the place you’re going, that process is about clarifying your needs and preferences for treatment and even referring you out somewhere else if that’s what you need.”
When starting out, you may not know what your “perfect” therapist looks like and that’s okay, but here are a few key positions to know to help make that choice a little clearer:
Psychiatrist: “A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems … After completing thorough evaluations, psychiatrists can prescribe medications to help treat mental disorders. Psychiatrists often prescribe medications in combination with psychotherapy.” – American Psychiatric Association
Psychologist: “Practicing psychologists have the professional training and clinical skills to help people learn to cope more effectively with life issues and mental health problems. After years of graduate school and supervised training, they become licensed by their states to provide a number of services, including evaluations and psychotherapy. Psychologists help by using a variety of techniques based on the best available research and consider someone's unique values, characteristics, goals and circumstances.” – American Psychology Association
Licensed Mental Health Counselor: “A psychological counselor is a mental health professional who has a master's degree (MA) in psychology, counseling, or a related field. In order to be licensed, the professional counselor also needs two additional years' experience working with a qualified mental health professional after graduate school. A mental health counselor is qualified to evaluate and treat mental problems by providing counseling or psychotherapy.” – WebMD
Clinical Social Worker: “Clinical social work is a specialty practice area of social work which focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness, emotional, and other behavioral disturbances. Individual, group and family therapy are common treatment modalities.” – SocialWorkers.org
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor: “Licensed professional counselors (or in some states, “licensed clinical professional counselors” or “licensed mental health counselors”) provide mental health and substance abuse care to millions of Americans. Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are master’s-degreed mental health service providers, trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders.” – Counseling.org
If you are provided health insurance from your place of employment, mental health services may be covered. Also, if you purchased your plan through the Affordable Care Act, mental health coverage must be included. You can always visit your insurer’s website or call them to ask for a list of mental health providers in your particular network.
Before settling on a clinic or therapist of interest, be sure to check that they accept your insurance before heading in for a visit. Also, keep in mind just because you are covered, there is a possibility you still may have to provide a co-pay for visits.
But, let’s say you don’t have insurance, that your plan doesn't include mental health services coverage, that there isn’t a therapist in your network taking on new patients, or that you simply cannot afford a co-payment every time you go to a session. In those instances, it is a good idea to tap into your local resources.
If you’re a student, you can utilize your school’s counseling center, or if your job offers confidential counseling consultations, take advantage of the perk. If those options are not available for you, you can use the directories on websites such as the American Psychological Association, Psychology Today and Therapy For Black Girls to scope out therapists in your area, their specialties, accepted insurances, price points and more.
You went through all of the initial steps, you set up your appointment and you go in to see the therapist you thought would be a great fit – but they’re not. In fact, they are awful, and you want out. That’s okay, and it may happen, but do not allow that relationship to deter you from getting the help you desire.
“There are a lot of different ways to get help with your mental health, and help with your mental health doesn't have to mean therapy,” Kazez tells Tonic.
If the one-on-one session is not your style, you can also consider group therapy or family therapy sessions. Or maybe you can shift the amount of times you see your therapist, or ask them to provide you out-of-office materials to help you continue your healing process.
Still need a little push? Read this article on what Courtney learned about herself after a few therapy sessions.
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