Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are the holidays more “Oh no!” than “ho ho ho”? As a therapist, I find that people often consider therapy this time of year, but aren’t sure where to begin so here is some information that can help.
How do I find a therapist?
Often the easiest way is to ask others if they know of a therapist they might recommend, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, the most popular website is www.psychologytoday.com. I would strongly recommend “shopping around” and meeting with a few different therapists to find the right match.
Advice vs. feedback:
Therapists shouldn’t give advice. Instead, the person you work with should be helping you find solutions and tools for coping or provide insight or alternative ways of viewing a situation but not telling you directly what to do. Also, do you feel heard? A therapist should have good listening skills and you shouldn’t feel that you are being cut-off mid-sentence or that there are certain topics that you can’t talk about. That’s what you are there for!
While there are several types of therapists or counselors, the two main licenses in the state of Minnesota are LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist) and LICSW (licensed independent clinical social worker). The main difference is the Master’s degree: psychology versus social work. Both require 4000 hours of supervised experience and both must pass state licensing exams. Therapists may also be a Psy.D. or Ph.D. which require additional training, exams and a doctorate degree.
Types of therapy:
There are dozens and they very greatly so I encourage you to ask the therapist to describe what a typical session will be like.
Every plan is different so contact yours directly for clarification about what is covered. Many therapists do not accept insurance so ask your insurance provider if they will pay for "out of network" therapists. If they say yes, this means you pay for your sessions "out of pocket" and the therapist provides you with a receipt or claim form that you submit to your insurance company or medical expense account for at least partial reimbursement. Again, it is best to call your insurance plan for details as they vary widely.
How long will it take and what will it cost?
The type of problem, the therapist’s orientation, and personal motivation for change all impact the length of therapy. You may just owe your co-pay, but if you chose to pay out of pocket, it can range from $75-$150 per session. Some therapist work on a sliding scale, which means they may lower their fee. Community clinics often have reduced fees or if there is an EAP (employee assistance program) through your job, it might pay for some sessions. Your human resources department should have the details.
A neutral third party who is there to support you through tough decisions, life changes, or a serious problem can be extremely valuable and I encourage people to consider it as an alternative to trying to do it all on your own.