Give Yourself the Gift of Therapy This Holiday Season

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Check out this post about how to pick the right therapist by Emily V. Gordon on Lemondrop.

Maybe it’s the upcoming emotional carpet-bombing of the holidays, maybe it’s just the mood of the country.

But lately, I’ve had a lot of friends email me asking advice on how to find a good therapist. Being that I’m a couples and family therapist (when I’m not writing about girl-on-girl make-out research), I’m used to such questions, and thought maybe the Lemondrop family could use some thoughts on this too.

So without further ado, let’s talk therapists.

The Boring Money Stuff

Finding a therapist often requires triangulating a ton of information. First, do you have a job? If you do, you lucky thing, check into your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is an underused thing most companies have that offers free stuff to employees.

A quick aside: please do not feel even slightly embarrassed to ask Human Resources about your EAP. Therapy, a word that used to be whispered in conversation, is now a self-care necessity, like dentist check-ups. Therapy is how we keep ourselves emotionally fit. (Plus most EAP programs cover things like cheap theater tickets too, so you can just pretend you want that instead.)

If your employer has an EAP program, they will offer you a certain number of free therapy sessions that you can have with one of their list of therapists, which your HR folk will provide you. Usually they set this up so that whoever provides the free sessions is also covered by your insurance if you want to continue.

That’s the second question — do you have insurance? If you do, check what your benefits are, as most plans will only cover a certain number of sessions. If your benefits are wonky, or if you don’t have any benefits at all, you will be paying out of pocket.

But a lot of therapists use “sliding scale” fees for their clients without insurance, meaning that they charge based on how much you are able to pay. If you are uninsured, always ask if your therapist uses a sliding scale.

The Search Begins …

If you have insurance and want to use it, I do highly suggest that you go through your insurance carrier’s website. Cross reference the people you find there with user-review services like Yelp, with your friends’ experiences, and with Psychology Today. Yup, that’s right. For the insured and uninsured alike, Psychology Today has a “Find a Therapist” portal that is great. You can search in your area by the issues you’re struggling with, the gender of the therapist, pretty much anything, and each therapist will write a brief synopsis of what they do and how they do it. We’ll get to that later.

For now, let’s discuss the ridiculous amounts of letters after the names of therapists.

Here are the basics:

MDs and RNs are psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, and they can prescribe medication. They often do not focus as much on talk therapy, but sometimes they will do both.

Keep reading on Lemondrop.

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