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 5 steps you can take to help you find a therapist who may be able to help you.
1. Set aside time to reach out to at least 10 therapists in your area.
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 lot of support 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 adequate information to help them 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. Some therapists do not have a lot of support staff and may be doing all of their own administrative and clinical work. This leaves them with very little time to respond to inquiries and to play phone tag. 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. I have often gotten inquiries from potential clients who provide incomplete information to get in touch with them, have full voicemail boxes, and do not give enough information to assess whether we might be able to work together. If you are looking for a therapist for yourself, your husband, or your child, say that.
3. In addition to your insurance’s directory, check therapist directories online.
There are a number of therapist directories that therapists subscribe to maintain. Popular directories include Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and TherapyDen. Therapists often maintain and update information on these website to include which types of insurance they accept and whether they are accepting new clients. You can 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.
A number of therapists are providing services via secure online video platforms. Therapists are licensed in each state. Instead of looking for a therapist close to home, you can expand your search to include therapists licensed in the state you live. You may also find a therapist with more availability and eliminate the need to commute to a therapist’s office.
5. Review your insurance benefits to see if you can work with an out-of-network therapist.
Some health insurance plans provide out-of-network benefits. 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.
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.
Not sure if you need or could benefit from therapy? Read about reasons to go to therapy here.