NEW TO THERAPY?
CONGRATULATIONS on taking the first step, which is the hardest step...asking for help. It is always hard when you realize you need help and you don't know where to start.
Ideally you could meet and chose someone who you feel comfortable with. Unfortunately, medical managed care and increased access to services makes this a difficult task. This is why I placed as much information here as possible to help you make an informed choice.
Step 1-How are you paying for services?
Call the number on your insurance card to get clarity of what your mental health insurance includes. Many companies use a third party to provide these services. They can also give you a list of providers in their network.
Ask if you have a deductible, a copay, limited number of sessions and/or out of network benefits. Also ask if you need an authorization. If you do have out of network benefits or a PPO, get information on how your therapist should send in claims.
You can check with you human resources department to see if you have EAP benefits. These are free sessions given by you employer to help you get through issues of life that may impede your work performance. These issues may or may not be related to your workplace. If you have a flex spending account, it can be used to reimburse you for all or some of your therapy fees. Don't worry the content of the sessions is still confidential.
Step 2-How to get an appointment
Begin your search. You will have to leave numerous phone messages and/or emails. Be specific with which insurance you have and when you are available. Be prepared to wait 48 hours or more for a response. Individual therapist not in a group practice run their businesses alone and often do not have secretaries or answering services.
Step 3- Types of Therapist
Since you have never had a therapy session before you may not know what style works for you. It may take 2-3 trials to find the right person for you.
Not all therapist work on all types of symptoms or problem areas. Some will do a screening to see if they are the right person for you. I prefer to meet for the first session and assess your needs. Then if we are not a fit, I can still direct you to what to look for and which questions to ask.
Some therapist are traditional listeners and questioners. They can offer a safe place to voice your issues and ask important questions to help you navigate through your thoughts to make your own decisions.
Some therapists are this plus some mild support with making decisions.
Other therapist are the last two plus more active and action oriented to help you make quick changes. This is a blend of psychotherapy and life coaching (This is my approach).
Step 4- What to expect the first session
The first therapy session is the beginning of assessing your problems, strengths, supports, and symptoms. Each therapist does this their own way so if you see more than one you will have to start from scratch each time.
This where you can feel the person out to see if you feel comfortable talking to them and if their style fits your needs. Each session is usually 50-60 minutes.
Don't worry about how to start the conversation. We will guide you from beginning to end.