As a psychologist providing individual counseling and couples therapy in Orange CT (between Milford CT & New Haven CT), I know how difficult it is to find a qualified therapist who suits your needs and personality. So here are some tips to help you find the best local counselor for you.
1. Search Reputable Web Directories
You can search by location, specialization, qualification, etc.
2. Try to Find Reviews
Reviews for therapists are difficult to find due to privacy and confidentiality issues. If a local counselor has been reviewed, then the reviews are likely to be found in YellowPages.com or HealthGrades.com, because they allow reviews to be anonymous. It’s probably a good idea to do a Google search for the therapist’s name just to see what you can find on him/her. Use this site if you want to check to make sure they are licensed: CT eLicensing Website
3. Read Profiles & Websites
The web directories will list therapists profiles and links to their websites. These are the primary ways that therapists introduce themselves to prospective clients. So, these are important sources of information about how a therapist thinks. Be prepared for a lot of the info to be the same. For example, most therapists will endorse Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), most will specialize in anxiety and depression, and most will talk about how compassionate or empathetic they are. So, you may have to read between the lines or just get a general feel for the therapists’ approach at communication. In addition, you might be able to find articles from them to get a better idea of what they think. Or you might be able to find a description of their background to get a better idea of where they came from.
4. Consider Costs
- Insurance: if you want to use insurance to pay, consider the following.
- In-Network Providers: Usually insurance plans cover a larger percentage of the costs of therapists who are in their network, so you only pay a co-pay. If you want to go this route, you’ll need to find a therapist who accepts your insurance, which may be somewhat difficult depending on your plan. If you find an in-network therapist, then they usually submit everything to the insurance company for you.
- Out-of-Network Providers: If a therapist does not accept your insurance, then they are considered “out-of-network”. Most insurance plans will reimburse you a percentage of the costs out-of-network therapists, but usually only after meeting a deductible. It’s easier to find a therapist who is out-of-network. If you want to go this route, you usually need to pay their full fee out-of-pocket, then submit claims to get reimbursed.
- HSA & FSA: Health Savings Accounts & Flexible Spending Accounts are accounts that you own and can be used to pay for most health-related expenses. Most therapists who accept credit/debit card payments will accept HSA & FSA payments
- Sliding-Scale: Most therapists use a sliding-scale to determine fees for very low income clients. If you can provide proof that you are unemployed or have a very low income, check to see if a therapist uses a sliding-scale.
- If the costs of therapy are an extreme financial burden, consider shorter sessions or less frequent sessions. Although progress might be slower, many clients see therapists every few weeks or even once a month.
5. Consider Their Qualifications
- Doctoral-Level Therapists
- MD – Therapists with an MD are medical doctors who are usually called psychiatrists. Although they are the most highly trained, they specialize in medical treatments for mental health, such as medications, and they may or may not provide “talk therapy”. MD’s can prescribe medications.
- PhD – Therapists with a PhD are 2nd most highly trained and are considered doctors of psychology (not medical doctors). They specialize in assessing & treating mental health problems using psychological techniques, such as “talk therapy”. In CT, PhD psychologists cannot prescribe medications.
- Masters-Level Therapists
- LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Workers
- LPC – Licensed Professional Counselor
- LMFT – Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists
See a full list of all the Types of Mental Health Professionals.
6. Other Things to Consider
- Your Issues & Their Specializations: Make sure a prospective therapist specializes in the area that you need help with.
- Scheduling: Make sure a prospective therapist is accepting new clients and has openings during the times that you’ll be available. For example, some therapists work evenings and weekends, but some do not.
7. Try One Out
Most therapists will offer free phone consultations so you can get a feel for them and their approach. In addition, you may be able to find therapists with low cost initial visits. This is a convenient way to try someone out without much financial risk.