Sometimes knowing that we need help isn’t the hard part – asking for it is! There are a lot of thoughts and feelings that can go into finding a therapist. As a clinical social worker at Baltimore Washington Counseling Center, I’ve had the opportunity to counsel many individuals, families, and couples. It can be nerve racking for new clients to begin therapy because you’re sharing personal aspects of yourself in hopes of finding guidance, comfort, and resolution. Here are five things you can do to seamlessly find the right therapist!
1. Call your insurance company. Skip all the time hunting around on the internet and call your insurance company to verify which therapist or mental health practice your particular insurance covers as well as who is accepting new patients. This will help you focus on potential therapists you can actually utilize! TIP: Find out if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). You don’t have disclose why you are asking as EAP’s have a separate number, respect confidentiality, and have an array of services (financial, educational, etc.) Depending on the EAP provider your company has you may be allotted free therapy sessions, typically 2-6. I recommend using an EAP provider that also takes your insurance so you can have continuation of care without worrying about finding another therapist when you EAP sessions run out.
2. Figure out what you want from your therapy. Take a few moments to consider why you want to go to therapy because it’s one of the key questions asked by mental health practices in order to identify the best suited therapist. You don’t have to get into specifics but it’s important to know if you’re battling depression, having anxiety, experiencing relationship problems, recently lost a loved one, or simply facing a new chapter in life (divorce, retirement, graduation, etc.).
3. Make the call. It seems like a simple task but sometimes the hardest part is picking up the phone and making the appointment. If you leave a voicemail, a reputable practice will call you back in 24 hours. Everyone is nervous so consider it part of the norm. Plus, you’ll get a feel for the counseling practice when you speak to them. You should receive a warm response when making your appointment. If the practice has a website there’s even opportunity to book appointments online or at least make an inquiry.
4. Arrive early to complete intake paperwork. Every therapist has some sort of administrative and/or clinical paperwork for you to complete. Arrive early to complete paperwork if you have the chance, that way you can spend your face to face time with your therapist talking about why you are seeking therapy. TIP: Some places have their paperwork online so you can fill them out prior to the appointment and email them or print them out for your therapist.
5. Get a sense of who your therapist is. Figuring out if your therapist is the right fit for you is like breaking in a brand new pair of shoes. You have to put them on, walk around for a bit, and then determine if you really like them – the shoes that is! Therapists are the same way. While first impressions are important I recommend having 3-4 sessions before making the final decision. If for some reason you find your therapist to not be a good fit talk to them about it! Oftentimes it is something that can be adjusted (appointment time, theoretical approach, etc.) and if it can’t be resolved it’s helpful for the therapist to have your feedback. They may be able to recommend a better fit as well!
These are the first initial steps to getting into therapy and I’m hopeful that these simple tasks and considerations will find you stepping into the right therapist’s office.
At Baltimore Washington Counseling Center we accept most major insurances, EAPs, and self-pay. Call our office manager, Lisa Kane at 410-768-6088 ext. 118, to set up counseling services. Lisa knows each therapist’s style, approach, and specialty and will promote a good match for your counseling needs. You can also check out our therapists profiles here and submit an appointment request here. At your convenience, our intake paperwork is located on our website for you to print and complete at home prior to arriving for your first appointment.