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Are You Making These Mistakes When Looking for a Therapist?

By Adrienne Loker, LCSW, EMDR, SE

1)    Waiting until there’s a crisis

It’s not uncommon for folx to think that therapy is a service that’s reserved for people who’ve hit bottom. However, there are a few issues with this belief. For starters, most of us experience a slow progression into a mental health funk. The slow nature of this progression desensitizes us to our symptoms, and we end up being a poor judge of our current state in life and our baseline functioning. Meaning, our ability to assess our mental health needs is greatly impaired.

Secondly, there’s no logic in waiting for things to get really bad. Why waste time decompensating when we could be getting our life back on track? It’s not just the individual experiencing the mental health symptoms, but it’s their entire support system who also suffers when their loved one functions at a lower-than-usual capacity. The best time to seek therapy is when you first start contemplating to get help.

2)    Price shopping

Therapy is an investment. Many individuals are accustomed to paying a $25 weekly co-pay for therapy, and are shocked when they’re quoted over $100 per hour for a private pay clinician. Insurance reimburses the lowest rates for psychotherapy, compared to other professions who require their providers to receive the equivalent in higher education and advanced training.

The trend in the therapy world is that some of the most skilled clinicians choose to no longer play these games with insurance companies and charge a respectable rate directly from the consumer. This is not to suggest that there are not some incredible therapists who accept insurance, however, this pool is increasingly shrinking. Because of this, choosing a therapist based on price alone could actually be more expensive, because it might take years longer to meet your treatment goals than if you’d worked with the right fit clinician from the start.

3)    Seeing a generalist when you should be seeing a specialist

A lot of people think that all therapists have received equivalent training to be able to treat a wide variety of mental health concerns. A generalist psychotherapist is like seeing a primary care physician. They’re great if you’re not exactly sure what you need, you’re looking for some basic coping strategies, or you’re wanting someone to verbally process with who could offer a different perspective.

However, just like with primary care medicine, issues can exceed the provider’s scope of practice and a specialist should be considered. Such issues include trauma recovery, substance use, gender exploration, grief and bereavement, psychosis, and other presenting concerns where client functioning is greatly impacted or the focus of treatment is directly related to being a member of a marginalized community.

If you’re ready to invest in yourself so that you can show up fully to the lives of those around you, then let’s get started. Schedule an assessment, and you and your clinician will collaboratively create a plan of treatment that is individualized to your unique nervous system needs.

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