Finding a Therapist

Wednesday , 20, February 2019 51 Comments

“Begin at the beginning…”
–Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Would that it was this easy: “Massage that little toe on the end, and I’ll feel so much better!”

Instead, you may be saying to yourself, “I think I’m hurting too much, and really do need some help,” but are not sure how to find it. Rather than go off on a million, unsuccessful tangents, you could do a search for “therapist near me” or “psychotherapist near me” (in this post the terms “therapist” and “psychotherapist” are used interchangeably). But I’d like to first share some experiences and information which I hope might prove helpful.


What is considered an emergency? An emergency is when you are in such emotional pain that you don’t feel like you can continue hurting so badly, or you want to physically hurt yourself or someone else to make the pain just STOP. (Yes, I have been in this place before.) What can you do?

  • Call 911. YES. In case of emergency, pick up the phone immediately, and call 911. That’s what those numbers are for. The person at the end of the line is trained to help you, and he/she will ask you some guiding questions and help lead you through some next steps.
  • Go to a hospital.Search online for a hospital near you and call a taxi or Uber (do not drive yourself)—or if possible, ask a friend or family member to locate a hospital and drive you there. Don’t worry about bringing anything—except a list of any medications you may be taking. And if you don’t have such a list, just put them into a bag and bring them along. Above all, if you seek out help from a hospital, just keep in mind that you are trying to get to a safe place.


  • When you’re in pain, it can be difficult to tell the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency. But either way, by calling a mental health clinic near you, you can receive guidance and help. Make sure the clinic is near you, because you’re more likely to go there if the place is located near you. And in this case, you can search for, “mental health clinic near me” and it can be effective!
  • If you’re in emotional pain but can wait a day or two to be seen (be honest with yourself!), perhaps you’re in a “place” where you can consider what type of therapist you want to see. The following descriptions may help.


The type of training the therapist has had, will shape their therapeutic approach. Counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and spiritual healers…there is a wide array of professionals who offer “therapy.” And there are also music and art therapists, who utilize the creative arts in the healing process.

It can be very daunting to find the right person to work with—and I choose the word “work”, because you ultimately want to pay for a professional’s work, to help you find your way to emotional wellness, right? And the old adage holds true for your own effort: you will get what you put into it.

So, in the United States, psychiatrists are now primarily medication “managers.” That’s not meant in a pejorative manner, it’s just that there aren’t enough of them to fill the needs, and they don’t have enough time to do everything for their patients. The best ones remain in contact with one’s therapist to keep up. They usually see you for a brief 15 to 20-minute session, check on hoped-for benefits of prescribed medications, and insure that you are not suffering from bad drug interactions or side effects. Some offer therapy sessions, but this is the exception rather than the norm. They tend to be expensive, and don’t always take insurance; it can also be difficult to find one who is taking on new patients.

Many individuals seeking therapy see psychologists, social workers or mental health counselors. If you wish to do a little research prior to seeking out a therapist, online articles can provide you with brief overviews of different kinds of psychotherapy. At, for example, an article written by John M. Grohol, PsyD, offers a concise description of half a dozen different types of treatment—including Cognitive (CBT) and Dialectical (DBT) Behavior Therapy, as well as a thorough guide to finding the best therapist for yourself.

So, when you make your call, keep these things in mind:

  • How are you currently feeling, right at this moment?
  • Will the first session be a consultation?
  • What are the therapist’s session fee, and does he/she accept insurance? Don’t hesitate to be assertive on this subject; you’ve got to be your own best advocate!!

Please remember above all: It’s very difficult when you are hurting and feeling vulnerable, to take the steps to ask for help. And therapists know that.

Psychotherapy has come a long way; most therapists no longer offer long-term treatment. More and more, therapists are utilizing short-term models such as CBT, which encourage clients to engage in an interactive dialogue with the therapist, exploring the ways in which one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors interact with one another. The primary goal in short-term treatment, is to help you develop a “toolbox” of better and stronger coping skills.

I recently went online and read reviews about a specific CBT practice in my area. I told the receptionist on the phone what types of issues I was working on and asked who might be available to see me soon. I lucked out and am now working with a CBT trained social worker, who is gifted, knowledgeable, and good at her craft. Because when you get right down to it, therapy truly is an art. It is often a difficult process, but an incredibly enriching and helpful one which can guide you on your way to owning your life.

If you have further questions or ideas, please share your comments so we can have a dialogue!





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