Finding a therapist can be a daunting task if you are not familiar with the process. What I believe is most important about starting the therapy journey is being informed. Often when a client first calls I hear, “This is the first time I have done this. I am not sure what to expect or what to ask.”
This is meant to be an informational guide to what to expect when looking for a therapist. While there are some specifics for adoptees, it can also be used by anyone else looking for mental health services.
What to do before calling a therapist:
Call your insurance company and check on your benefits. You may have a deductible, or a co-pay, or coinsurance that kicks in after you meet your deductible.
Deductible: amount that you have to pay out of pocket before there are any “discounts”.
Co-pay: amount that you pay at each session. Typically a flat rate set by the insurance company.
Coinsurance: certain percentage you pay of the session cost based on your plan. Typically applies after you have met your deductible.
If you do not have insurance, the clinician may have an out-of-pocket or sliding scale available. You can find that information on their website, or call and ask.
What should I look for in a therapist?
There are different mental health providers within the mental health field. Clinicians are all working towards the same goal (having their clients functioning in a healthy and productive way); however, they have different ways of approaching this goal. Make sure that the clinician is licensed. There are “coaches” that may say they provide similar services and have some “training”, but unless they have a state approved license, they are not considered a professionally trained clinician. It is important to see a licensed clinician because it means there are certain guidelines and requirements that the clinician has had to achieve in order to become licensed. These act as safety measures to protect the public from anyone claiming that they are able to provide therapy services.
The specific letters behind their name denotes their license, and the level that they are licensed. Some of the different licenses are:
LMFT = Licensed marriage and family therapists
LMSW = Licensed master’s level social workers
LICSW = Licensed clinical social worker (master’s level)
LP = Licensed psychologists
LPC = Licensed professional counselor
“LL” = limited license. This clinician has met some of the requirements, but has not taken the full licensure test. Clinicians with an “LL” are required to be supervised by someone who is fully licensed.
“L” = fully licensed. This clinician has met all of the criteria and requirements, including passing the licensure exam.