How to Choose the Right Therapist

27 Dec

How to Choose the Right Therapist

coping skills

Written by: Melissa DaSilva LICSW

It is important to feel a connect to your therapist.  You should feel that you need to see a person just because they happen to have a time slot open for you or because they happen to take your insurance.  Therapy is an intimate process.  You share  some of your deepest feeling and experiences with this person.  Not all therapist are  the right fit for everyone.  It’s ok to let them know that you don’t think you’re the right fit.  We won’t be hurt.  We want the process to benefit you, not be something you dread going to each week.  Here are some tips for finding the  best therapist for you.

1.       Do some self-reflections
Take a moment with yourself and ask what would I like help with?  Do you find  that your are sad a lot or unmotivated? You may need some help with depression.  Or are you finding that being a new parent not as joyful as you assumed it would be? You may need some help with postpartum issues.  What  you need help with there is someone out there that can help you with it.

2.       Do some research
An easy way to find a therapist is to look it up online.  Search for a therapist in your area specializing in all topics, religions and cultures.  If the therapist has a website with these topics, they will probably come up.  Many times they will have information about themselves and how they do therapy.  Another goo resource is psychology today.  This site will filter out the therapist that specializes in your needs.  Many times psychology today ads will be the first website to come up in a google search.  Psychology today will also provide you with a background on the therapists, their specialty and what insurance they take if they take any. 

3.       Not all therapist are the same.  We all have different letters after our names to identify what are credentials are.

  • LICSW: Licensed Independent Social Worker.  It indicates that the therapist has at least 2 years post graduate work under their belt, and have passed the appropriate state testing for their license.  Most health insurance will reimburse for LICSWs.
  • LMFT: A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) is a mental health practitioner educated and trained to help with relationship difficulties. LMFTs provide psychotherapeutic services to individuals, couples, families, and groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments.
  • Psychologist: Psychologists have a doctoral degree in an area of psychology, the study of the mind and human behavior. They’re not medical doctors. A psychologist can have a Ph.D. in philosophy or  in clinical or counseling psychology. Typically, they do 1-2 years of internship. Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are also trained in giving psychological tests (like IQ tests or personality tests).
  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) who graduate from medical school, have a year of medical internship, and have 3 years of residency in the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychiatrists have a stronger sense of biology and neurochemistry and use this knowledge when treating mental health concerns. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication.
  • Life Coach: Life coaches partner with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. There are no requirements or degrees needed to be considered a life coach.  Some can choose to go through specific training to be certified through an  agency.

4.        Not all therapists take insurance
Depending on the state the therapist works in, depends on if they are legally required to take insurance.  Pist… here is a secret, Not all Insurance companies pay therapists the same amount.  Some make it very difficult for the therapist to get paid at all.  You may see your therapist  for a 45-50 minute  session a week, but your therapist can easily be spending 1 hour on the phone  a week trying to get answers for why they aren’t getting reimbursed for the session they spent with you.   Therapist enjoys working for their clients, not sitting on hold to get a simple answer from the insurance company. 

To avoid this and to be able to provide better services to clients, some therapist  has turned to taking out-of-network benefits.  This allows the therapist to get paid what they are worth and allow them to just focus on you, their clients.  Another secret is, Insurance companies are much more helpful to their members than their providers (therapists).  If you call them, you are less likely to spend 50% less time on hold than a provider.

Everyone could use a therapist at one time or another in their life.  A in-biases person that is your sounding board and champion.  To listen to your fears and dreams without judgment.  It’s important to find the right one that deserves to listen to your story.  Next time you are in the market for a therapist, follow these tips and enjoy the therapeutic process. 

If you would like to meet with a therapist, contact us at East Coast Mental Wellness.


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