The COVID-19 pandemic exposed, catalyzed, and underscored the need to address mental health concerns. We also know through platforms like TikTok, the news, and even movies and tv shows that seeking therapy is more accepted and is something to consider. Although we have the accessibility of information readily available at our fingertips (quite literally speaking), we also now face the dilemma of beginning the search for a therapist. But do not fear, it is much simpler than you think.
First, you will need to know the name of your medical insurance company and whether it offers coverage for mental health services or not. My recommendation is to call them directly to find out because some therapists will accept your insurance, but there may still be a remaining copay. Secondly, I would use the insurance company’s online portal to search for therapists who are within the network. This step will alleviate cold calling and mitigate potential frustration in your search. The third step would be to do a little bit of research on the therapists found on your list. Therapists have diverse backgrounds and strengths in various areas of therapy. For example, some specialize in trauma work or depression, and some are qualified to administer EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for psychotherapy while others are not. Do not be dismayed! If you do not know what you need support for, you can still see any therapist who can then help you identify where you need support. The last step is to call the office and ask them if they are accepting new clients, and if so, if you may begin the intake process.
What is intake? Intake is the step where the receptionist or administrative team will ask a series of screening questions to make sure that they can offer the support you are looking for. They may email you a packet or ask you to arrive a few minutes earlier than your first session to complete this information. The packet may ask for things like your email address, date of birth, your availability, history of medication, and your signature for various consent forms. After this is complete and the intake team verifies the information provided on the packet, they will check the availability of the therapist that they match you with and reach out to them. Some clinic’s therapists are subcontractors and handle scheduling their clients on their own while other clinics might have a reception team to help clinicians with scheduling.
Therapy is an incredibly personal journey, and it might be a trial-and-error process. Even though the clinician might have experience, personalities may not match or it is simply not a good fit. Please do not be discouraged if this happens. The most important thing is that you just begin.