Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Finding Your Psychotherapist Match: The Strategy

Finding the right psychotherapist for you isn’t as easy as picking a name off an insurance provider list and showing up in their office. If you want the best chance at good chemistry, you need to have a plan to find Psychotherapist Right.

So... How do you pick a psychologist or psychotherapist?

1.Assess your needs. Do you need someone to help you sort out complex issues or pesky life’s problems?  Ask yourself “what do I most need right now?” Make a list in order of your priorities.
      2.Check with your insurance provider. Find out what categories of professionals are covered under your plan.

  •      For example, my plan only covers psychiatrists and psychologists. Because of my complex illnesses, that’s a good fit for me.

      3.This is the research project part.

  • Find 3-4 names of providers. Maybe your family doctor, clergy, friends or family have suggestions.
  • Be careful that you don’t pick a provider that your friends or family are currently seeing. That is a conflict of interest for the provider.
  • Creating your own list of providers is a place to start.


4.If you aren’t self-pay, check to see if any of the providers from your list are covered under your insurance.
  • Cross off the ones that aren’t.
  • In a pinch, pick a few names off of your insurance policy provider list. This is the equivalent of cold calling for a therapist. Not the most effective approach but sometimes it’s your only option.
5.Call each psychotherapist/psychologist on that list you created.
  • Leave a message saying who you are, how to reach you, when to reach you, and a brief description of why you are calling.
  • Consider writing down the message you want to leave before you call. That way, you’ll know what you said to each provider and you’ll also get your key points into the message.

6     6. When they call you back, treat the call as a phone interview. You are interviewing them. Take notes
  • Ask about their training, expertise (including the therapeutic technique they use), and experience
  • Pay attention to how thoughtfully they answer your questions
  • Give them a brief description of your major issue
  • Pay attention to their answer. Did they listen? Do they come across as knowledgeable and empathetic?
  • Keep a notebook of their answers and your impressions

7     7.If you find one or two you’d like to meet in person, make appointments.

       8. This is the face to face interview. You are trying to make a match for yourself. The little things matter.
  • Gender may be important to you.
  • Their demeanor may be important to you.
  • Age may matter to you.
  • The office style may matter to you.
  • The convenience of parking or bus access might be a deal breaker.
  • Do their appointments run on time?
  • You won’t know the answers till you go and scope them out.
9.As you enter into your hour-long session, check-in with yourself. How does this interaction feel to you?
  • Are you at ease or vaguely uncomfortable? Does your provider notice if you are uncomfortable? How do they help you resolve your discomfort?
  • Are you getting good feedback that you find helpful
  • How is their listening style. Do you feel heard?
  • Is there anything in the session that is off-putting to you?
10.After you have compared and contrasted your face to face interviews, either make a selection for a second appointment or start gathering more names. The fit between you and your psychologist or psychotherapist is important. You’ll be sharing deep parts of yourself with them probably every week. That’s a lot of contact. Keep in mind that you have many options to choose from with psychotherapists. It’s okay to be a bit picky.

Read this post for the strategy for finding your psychiatrist-patient match. Psychiatrists are trickier to scope out. 

First of all, they are MDs. How many people get in depth research information about their dermatologist? Second, psychiatrists are a pretty rare breed. There just aren’t that many to choose from. You have much more limited options than with psychotherapists.

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