6 Tips to Help You Find a Therapist
You finally decided to see a therapist. You are determined to make use of the health insurance benefits that you pay for each month. It's awesome because you feel like you are actually going to get something for your money. You type in your insurance company's website and use the handy "Find a Provider Tool" to get a list of therapists in your area that accept your insurance. Easy peasy, right?
Then you experience what most of us learn the hard way.
Finding a therapist can be a lot harder than it seems.
The providers listed on your insurance company’s directory aren’t actually accepting new clients.
The therapist you called isn’t paneled with your insurance.
The office you reached used to be in-network with your insurance but decided to terminate their contracts.
Or, worse yet, the providers don’t return your phone calls or don’t respond your e-mails, so you aren’t even sure if they are real people. And, if they are, you wouldn’t wanna work with them anyway because they suck at communication.
Here are Six Steps to Streamline Your Therapist Search
1. Set aside time to reach out to at least 10 therapists in your state.
Call or e-mail each one. Leave a voicemail or send a e-mail.
DO NOT CALL ONE THERAPIST AT A TIME AND WAIT FOR A CALL BACK.
This could delay you from getting the help that you need. Some therapists do not have a dedication administrative staff and may be doing all of their own administrative and clinical work which leaves them with very little time to respond to inquiries and to play phone tag.
2. Provide potential therapists with enough information to get in touch with you and quickly figure out whether they may be able to help you.
Provide your name, phone number, e-mail address, insurance info, and a good time to reach you. Let the person know if it is okay to leave you a voicemail or to text you. Providing relevant info and multiple ways to get in touch with you allows therapists to let you know if they can help you or if they have appointment availability.Without a e-mail address, permission to text you, or a full voicemail box, it can be challenging for therapists to get in touch with you.
3. Do not rely on your insurance company's directory. Check online therapy directories.
I repeat, do not rely on your insurance provider’s directory. Therapists subscribe to and maintain listings on various directories that provide therapist availability and additional information. Popular directories include Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and TherapyDen. Directories that service BIPOC clientele include Therapy for Black Girls, Clinicians of Color, and Innopsych. Group practices and individuals therapists often maintain and update information on these directi and include which types of insurance they accept and whether they are accepting new clients. You can often search by insurance, issue, location, and a number of other filters. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the therapists with whom you may want to work.
4. Consider teletherapy.
In the United States, therapists are licensed to practice therapy in a state. This means your therapist can be located anywhere throughout the state you live in as long as you have a reliable phone and/or internet connection. Expand your search to include therapists throughout the state in which you live. Approach Therapy therapists can provide online therapy to residents throughout the state of California a via secure online video platform despite the fact that our practice is located in San Francisco. Other therapists are also doing the same. Instead of looking for a therapist close to home, you can expand your search to include therapists licensed throughout the state you live.
5. Review your insurance benefits to see if you can work with an out-of-network therapist.
To be honest, this is likely your best bet. If you are interested in in understanding why, I am happy to provide additional information about this in a future post. But, for the sake of brevity, I will go ahead and stick to the main point in this article. If you have an insurance plan with out-of-network benefits, you can use these benefits to offset the cost of therapy. This would allow you to see a therapist who does not have a signed contract with your insurance company. This can be a win-win situation. Your therapist would be compensated a fair rate for their services and would you can offset the out-of-pocket cost for therapy. For example, if your therapist charges $200 an hour and your insurance will cover 80% of the cost for an out-of-network therapist, you would only end up paying $40 out-of-pocket instead of $200 per session. If you have a health savings account, you may also use pre-tax dollars to help you further offset the cost of therapy. Out-of-network therapists may be able to help you file claims with your insurance or can provide documentation for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
Dr. Melanie Chinchilla works with self-pay clients and clients who opt to use their out-of-network insurance benefits. For additional information about insurance and EAP programs with whom Approach Therapy contracts, please check out our Fees & FAQs.
6. Do not give up!
Finding a therapist can be a frustrating process. Do not despair! There are many therapists out there who are interested and willing to work with clients just like you. If the aforementioned steps do not yield results, you may consider asking your insurance company for assistance to help you locate a provider that is currently accepting new clients. Some insurance companies help members find providers by reaching out to therapists on the member’s behalf.