If you’ve been following me over on Advice for a 20 Something for some time, then you may know I’ve been seeing a therapist for 7+ years now. And I’m a huge advocate for it! I truly believe therapy is for everyone and it shouldn’t be something we shy away from talking about. In fact, I’ve gotten more and more messages and DMs over the past year of readers considering taking the plunge. The problem is, it’s not exactly common knowledge where to start. So I thought I’d share some advice from my own experience on how to find a therapist. I hope it helps!
Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist
You may know the general difference between these two types of therapists, but you may not know which one you should go to. Personally, I think it’s best to see both. Don’t worry, you don’t have 2 appointments every week. Typically, you see your psychiatrist once every few months and just see your psychologist regularly (once a week). In my experience, psychologists are more focused on the talking and helping adjust the way you think. Psychiatrists, while they are trained to do both, typically focus way more on the medication aspect. I would not recommend seeing just a psychiatrist — i.e. taking medication without accompanying it with therapy. If you find a psychiatrist who is also a great therapist, then that’s awesome. Stick with her/him! But I’ve found that can be rare. Mostly because it’s hard enough finding a therapist you hit it off with! It’s so dependent on the person.
So, if you are 100% certain you don’t want to take any sort of medication, then go straight to a psychologist. If you aren’t 100% sure that medication is out of the question, I’d suggest starting with a psychiatrist, and then finding a psychologist to see regularly.
Ask your doctor
One of the most accessible and trustworthy ways to find a therapist is to ask your own doctor — preferably one you really like. Ask your general practitioner or even your OBGYN. I recommend asking your doctor specifically for a psychiatrist recommendation and then asking the psychiatrist for a psychologist recommendation. Chances are your medical doctor knows more psychiatrists and your psychiatrist will know more psychologists.
Search for options in your insurance plan
It’s also possible to find a therapist through your insurance. You can log in online and search for psychiatrists or psychologists in your network and then go from there. You may want to test out a few this way since you are limiting your options to what’s in-network. If you find someone who is not in your network, don’t fret! To be honest, none of my therapists have been in-network or they just don’t take insurance. To save some money here, try submitting a claim to your insurance after you pay your therapist. You may be able to get a percentage covered.
Ask a friend
I know it can be intimidating to bring this up to a friend, but the more we talk about it, the more it becomes normal! If you know of a friend (or a blogger – wink wink) who sees a therapist in your area, don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation. Odds are, if you are similar to your friend, you might like the same kind of therapist. But beyond that, her therapist can also give you recommendations! Most therapists understand you’ll want to explore your options (most good therapists anyway!).
If you don’t like the first one, try another one!
So often I hear friends say that they don’t like therapy. What I think they mean is they didn’t like the experience they had with the therpist(s) they saw. And that’s totally fair! There’s a reason it’s hard to find a good therapist. It’s like finding a boyfriend or a business partner. To get that intimate with someone, it needs to be the right fit. So please don’t give up after your first try (or couple tries)! Take the time to find the right one for you — for something that can change your life, it’s worth putting in the effort!