What to Do When You Can’t Find an In-Network 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.

Now what?

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.

 

 

Why should I go to therapy?

To some, therapy seems pointless. Why would I pay someone to listen to me when I can vent to my friends, family, partner, or a random stranger for free? 

Here are 4 reasons to see a therapist.

1. Therapists are trained listeners.

Therapists spend a significant amount of time (YEARS in fact) listening to people and learning how to elicit information to help others gain insight. This is a fancy way of saying a therapist can help you understand or see a situation, feeling, or relationship in a way that you may not have thought about before.  People are excellent at denying, hiding, or minimizing their own and others’ emotions. Sometimes you do things without even knowing why  you do them.  A therapist is trained to listen to you and can help you make sense of something and, more importantly, they may also be attuned to what you are not saying.

2. Your therapist doesn’t have any skin in the game.

I’m going to venture a guess and say that you are likely to confide or vent to someone you like. And, chances are, that person likes you too. This may be awesome for your relationship with that person. However, it can be challenging for people to give you their honest opinion about something without being worried that you might take it the wrong way, dismiss it, or take it too personally. Your well-meaning friend probably doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Furthermore, they may be biased by their own opinions or experiences with that certain situation or person you are venting about.

This is what I mean when I say that person has “skin in the game.” They may risk upsetting you or alienating you which may adversely impact your relationship with them or others. Your therapist doesn’t have any skin in the game. A therapist isn’t involved in your personal life. In fact, many in the mental health profession are not allowed to have two relationships with you (i.e., a personal and professional relationship) because it blurs the lines and can make it difficult for that person to help you with whatever brought you to therapy in the first place.

Your therapist also isn’t (hopefully) just trying to appease you. A therapist is invested in your personal growth but isn’t just trying to make you happy or tell you what you want to hear. A healthy therapeutic relationship may involve hearing difficult feedback or learning things about yourself that may challenge you. This may not always be fun but it can be a good thing. Since your therapist isn’t just trying to make you happy, you will have many opportunities to grow and explore how you feel and think about certain aspects of your life and your experiences.

3. Therapists keep what you say confidential (with certain limitations).

I don’t know about you, but I know that anytime I tell a friend or family member “don’t tell anyone” and follow it with some sort of secret, there is a good chance that this person may tell someone else. Why is that? Secrets are tough to keep. It isn’t because people in our lives want to break our confidence. Sometimes, people in your everyday life have a hard time making sense of what you tell them. It helps to have someone to talk to about heavy topics. That’s understandable. However, this inadvertently can undermine trust and your confidence in your relationship with that person.

Therapists are required to keep most of what you say confidential. If they need to speak to someone about something you said in a session, it’s likely another mental health professional. Your therapist is required to protect your information and identity and not break your confidence in most cases.

Disclaimer: Your therapist may be required to report information in certain situations. This usually involved situations where someone is in danger, poses an imminent threat, or there is reported abuse. A therapist usually covers limitations of confidentiality in the first session. If not, feel free to ask your therapist when confidentiality would need to be broken.

4. Unlike other people in your life, therapists love to hear you talk about yourself.

They literally  encourage it. Where else do you  get such undivided attention without feeling like a jerk for NOT asking about the other person? It may feel odd at first. It can definitely feel like a one-way relationship and that’s okay. Therapy is time for you to work on you. You don’t have to worry about your therapist. A therapist is there to help you. Many people count therapy as part of their self-care routines.

Want to learn more about therapy? Shoot me a message about what you want to read more about!