The front desk is the epicenter of any counseling or therapy practice. My role is somewhat like that of a conductor. I keep things moving, make sure patients get where they need to be, problem solve, think on my feet, and am constantly adjusting to what the day brings. Oh the things I've seen, heard, and even smelled (you don't want to know).
Today we're taking about a topic that's on everyones mind at the start of the New Year: taking the first step. Specifically, taking the first step toward starting therapy. The number one question I hear is “I want to see a therapist; what do I need to do?” Great question! First, I would like to say: pat yourself on the back for taking the first step! Often the intimidation of the unknown keeps people from scheduling an appointment. It's not always easy to accept that you need help.
Wether you're considering starting therapy or actively seeking a therapist, you'll benefit from answering a few simple questions to focus your search. A little introspection and research go a long way to ensure you find the best fit for you. Here are my top 3 questions you should ask when looking for a therapist.
1. Why am I seeking help?
Once you generate a response to this question, you will then be able to communicate this information to someone that has the ability to help match you with an appropriate therapist (ehem, me) or if you're searching online you can verify that the the therapist specializes in that area.
2. Is the provider in-network with my insurance? If not, what is their self pay rate?
Finances are often a concern. Be sure to look into your mental health benefits and look for providers who are "in-network". You can easily find this information by calling the 1-800 number on the back of your insurance card. Ask the representative what your mental health benefits are. If you are not in network with the provider you choose, "out-of-network benefits" or self pay rates are alternative options. Most providers offer a slightly discounted rate to individuals not filing insurance. This will give you a better idea of cost.
3. What is the therapist's schedule like?
Wondering how this made the top 3? Through my experience ease of scheduling is a very important to people getting the treatment they need. If scheduling isn't worked out from the beginning it can become an obstacle later and even contribute to individuals dropping out of therapy. Answering this question is a two part process. First, take a look at your own availability. Do you only have availability on weekends? Is your job flexible? Will you need to arrange chid care? Second, inquire about the therapist's hours and availability. Do they offer evening appointments? Are they booked for 3 months? Those questions can help you determine if scheduing appointments will be easy or a challenging.
After answering those questions you'll have a better sense of whether or not a provider is right for you. Take your time in your search and be sure to find the therapist that is the best fit for your needs. There is someone out there who's right for you. Contact our staff today for more information or for help finding a therapist who is right for you.
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Jessica Swanson is Clarity Counseling Center's Office Manager a.k.a. 'the president of pretty much everything'