How to Find the Right Therapist For You

6 Tips for Meeting Your Match

How to Find the Right Therapist For You

By Depression Connect StaffA Published at November 22, 2017 Views 10,080 Comments 2 Likes 3

Are you coping with the disappointment and frustration of a relapse in your depression treatment? Maybe you’ve tried meds, but they just don’t seem to be working on their own. Or perhaps you’ve tried counseling, but aren’t seeing much progress with your current therapist. 

Don’t give up. Research shows that therapy can be effective, particularly when combined with other treatments, including medication. A therapist can help you develop strategies for dealing with life’s challenges, and encourage you to stick with your treatment and use your medications correctly. 

But, finding the right therapist to treat your depression can seem overwhelming. How do you find the therapist who’s best for you? What should you look for? Will insurance cover the cost of therapy? How long will it take?

Follow these six steps to narrow your choices and find a therapist who can help you: 

1) Think About What You Want

To truly benefit from therapy, it’s essential to find a therapist you can trust and who has the background and experience to help you through your recovery process. If you’re paying for a licensed professional, check with your state’s regulatory board to make sure the therapist holds a current license and is in good standing with the board.

Think about your personal preferences. Would you be more comfortable talking with a female instead of a male? Do you prefer someone who’s your age or older than you? Use your list of preferences as a starting point.

If you’ve tried counseling before, but feel that it didn’t work, consider giving therapy another chance. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Why didn’t it work? Was there something you needed that you just weren’t getting from therapy? Did you give it a chance to work? Just as with medication, therapy may take some time before you begin to feel the benefits.
  • What do you want out of therapy now? Decide what your goals are for therapy. Are there specific challenges you want to tackle? Are there past events you need to work through?
  • Would you go back to your previous therapist? Did you like your prior therapist? If you felt like you had a good connection, you may want to try again – this time with specific goals. 

Try a new therapist. Don’t beat yourself up if you just didn’t seem to “click” with your previous therapist. Try someone new. 

    2) Choose the Type of Therapist You Need

    Getting the right help is key to your recovery. There is no magic, cure-all solution. Choose the expert who best fits your needs. First, talk to your primary doctor for guidance on the type of care you need based on your symptoms. Experts who treat depression include psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.

    3) Review Your Health Plan

    If you have medical insurance, carefully review your plan to see what benefits and providers are covered. Many insurance companies offer limited coverage for therapy. You may need a referral from your primary care doctor. Contact your health plan to find out if you have a co-pay or a deductible. 

    If you aren’t covered by health insurance, don’t lose hope. There are many local senior centers, family service agencies or mental health clinics that offer affordable options for depression therapy.

    4) Ask for Referrals

    Ask your doctor or health plan for referrals. Or get a personal recommendation from a friend, a family member, a religious leader or another trusted source. Some employers offer confidential counseling through employee assistance programs. Other resources include local or national mental health organizations, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness or the American Psychological Association, hospitals and universities.

    5) Call Therapists, Ask Questions

    Once you have a list of two or three possibilities, call their offices to get some key information before making an appointment. First, find out if they’re accepting new clients, if they take your insurance, and about any cancellation policies and fees they may have.  Ask about the therapist’s training and background in treating people with depression. If it seems like a good fit, ask to make a consultation appointment to meet the therapist before an actual session.

    6) Visiting a Therapist for the First Time

    This first visit will give you an idea of whether you’ll feel comfortable with a particular therapist. Be ready to answer questions about yourself, your family and why you are there. And bring a list of questions you’d like to ask. Examples might include:

    • What type of therapy would you recommend for me?
    • What can I expect from this therapy?
    • What are the goals of my treatment? 
    • When will I feel better?
    • How much time should I allow this treatment?
    • How often would I need sessions? For how long?

    It’s ok if you don’t “click” with a therapist after your initial meeting. You may be talking about difficult, sometimes intimate topics, so look for someone who will listen to you without judgment and whom you can trust. In the end, the choice is yours. Don’t settle. Visit a handful of therapists until you find the one you connect with – someone who offers you a sense of safety and support. 

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