Have you made the decision to get therapy, but not really sure where to start? With so many options out there, how do you go about finding a counselor? To make this process simpler and less stressful, I’ve compiled some answers to common questions you may have about the process of finding counseling.
What kind of counselor do I need? Is there one type that’s better than another?
There are many different kinds of counselors, with lots of different titles and letters behind their names. However, one is not necessarily any better than another.
You might find a therapist or counselor (typically an LPC, LMFT, or LCSW), a psychologist (PsyD or PhD), a psychiatrist (MD) or a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PMHNP) who can prescribe medication, or even a counselling intern (people working toward a degree or accumulating hours and are supervised by a licensed professional).
The most important thing is to find someone who has expertise in the area for which you are seeking help. Some common issues for moms who are seeking therapy include women’s issues, parenting, anxiety, self-esteem, couples/marriage counseling, and more.
Should I use health insurance?
If finances are a big stress in your life, then using health insurance may be important to you when looking at therapy options. However, if you have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or can afford to pay out-of-pocket, not using insurance could be a better option for you because there are more therapists to choose from. Your insurance is contracted with a certain number of counselors, and people can have difficulty finding one who is contracted, has the right expertise, and is also a good match for them personally.
People also often choose to pay out-of-pocket because a mental health diagnosis is required and reported to your health insurance provider for reimbursement.
I want to use health insurance, now what?
Before you can start your therapy search you will first need to contact your insurance provider to find out your mental health benefits. Do you have a co-pay, a deductible, and/or out-of-network benefits? If you have out-of-network benefits, you can widen your search to see any licensed counselor, however you may have to pay a higher out-of-pocket rate. Always confirm the counselor you choose is in fact in-network with your insurance because contracts often change and information is not quickly updated.
How do I search for a therapist?
There are some great online therapist directories, here are two I recommend:
- Portland Therapy Center
This site allows you to search for a counselor and filter by specialty, location, and insurance. It is also helpful because it’s specific to therapy practices in the Portland metro area and managed locally.
- Psychology Today
This national site also allows you to search for a counselor and filter by specialty, insurance, and zip code all over the US.
Most health insurance companies have directories you can use, however these directories are very limited and often inaccurate/outdated. If you are having difficulty finding therapy professionals with openings who take your insurance, call your health insurance provider directly and ask them for help.
Another great way to find a counselor is to get a referral from a health professional already in your life. Doctors, pediatricians, naturopaths, and others often have a referral list of counselors they often work with. Additionally, school counselors also often work with therapists and may be able to give you appropriate referrals as well.
How do I pick from all of these counselors?
Once you have names, check out their websites. Look through their pages, their blog, etc. to help you discern whether they might be a good fit for you. Counselors also often have business social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Look them up to see what matters to them based on what they share and post about therapy on these pages.
Sometimes counselors don’t have an internet presence. This means you’ll have to talk with them directly to get an idea of whether they can help you. The most important thing to remember is to go with your instincts. You’re a mom, so trust your motherly intuition; it is one of your biggest strengths!
You are now ready! Get online, ask around, call your insurance. And most importantly, trust yourself in selecting the right therapist for you and your family!
Suzanne Sanchez is a mom of two, wife, and dog companion in Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, she is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice where she loves working with moms, teens, and issues of anxiety. Take her “Supermom Quiz” to learn some self-care tips especially for managing your type of mom-stress.