Having trouble finding the right mental health therapist? If I had to choose a single obstacle that prevents more people from starting therapy than anything else, it would be the sheer task of deciding where to go. A single Google search of “therapy near me”, yields 5,480,000,000 results in .92 seconds (your internet is probably much faster). The first 3-5 results are ads, followed by a smattering on Google Maps, after which are lists such as one on Psychology Today. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the plethora of options, and shut down to avoid anxiety. Rinse, repeat.
Even if you go the slightly more informed route and ask your insurance company for a list of care providers that are in-network, all you get is a list of names with no way of knowing who has a good reputation, where they are located, or if they’ll let you bring your pet parakeet (they won’t). That said, this is not a bad route to go as long as you’re willing to do the leg work.
When selecting a therapist, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what your mental health struggles are. If you’re seeking help for your marriage, you wouldn’t go to a therapist that has no experience in that. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, anger management, struggling to maintain meaningful relationships, etc., there is a therapist for you. If you aren’t sure what you struggle with and are looking for more clarity, most places will be able to do a quick assessment for you to give you an idea of what direction to go. By no means should you take this as gospel, but it can help provide some knowledge as to what kind of therapy would be beneficial.
Resources for Finding a Mental Health Therapist
Here is a list of national mental health organizations that should have information on local councilors:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- American Psychological Association
- American Medical Association
- Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
While searching for mental health therapists, you will see a lot of acronyms for credentials. Here is a list of some and what they mean:
- Clinical Psychologist (Psy. D, Ph.D.) – deal with more severe mental health issues like severe anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, and eating disorders.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – A licensed social worker can provide therapeutic counseling services and resource and referral services for children, adolescents, and adults.
- Marriage, Family Therapist (LMFT) – Can support individuals and couples with mental health issues and relationship issues as a family therapist, or marriage counselor.
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC/LPCC) – Provide therapeutic counseling services for individuals and couples struggling with relationship issues and life challenges.
Other Things to Consider
You also might look into popular types of therapy and search for practitioners in your area that specialize in those. These could be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness practices, and many more. It is important to verify that someone who claims to use a practice is actually certified in it and is truly using its methods. I see this particularly with DBT, due to its rise in popularity.
Something you will likely run into while looking for a mental health therapist is the Online vs. In-Person debate. This really comes down to your personal preference. You may have people tell you that you can’t get as effective treatment with online/computer therapy, or that serious practitioners don’t work online. This simply is not true. Marsha Linehan is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts in the world and recently launched some trial treatment with computer therapy which shows it to be a viable alternative for traditional treatment methods. If you’re more comfortable with over the phone, video chat, or live chat, then this can be a great way to get help.
If you don’t have private insurance, but do have Medicaid, a good resource would be your Local Mental Health Authority. This is easily found with a Google search, and they will be able to provide you with a list of resources in your county. If you don’t have any kind of insurance, ask the therapist you have decided on if they are familiar with any resources that will help subsidize your payments.
Begin Your Journey Today!
Hopefully, this has been helpful in alleviating some of the stress and anxiety that comes with trying to find or select a mental health therapist or treatment program. Don’t hesitate, start a search now. If you’ve made it here, you’re probably feeling motivated to seek help. Are you willing to ride that wave and continue to take steps towards a more carefree life?
Alvin grew up in Southwest Missouri and struggled with depression and addiction from the age of 11. He also has had extreme social anxiety his whole life. Alvin is a veteran of the US Army, and enjoys spending his time doing martial arts, shooting, and reading. Alvin now works as a Behavioral and Peer Support Specialist at a residential treatment center.