Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find a therapist

We’ve all been (or are currently) in a place where we know we should see a therapist, but the thought of even taking the step to find out is too daunting. Without overcomplicating things, I’ll walk you through what finding the right therapist might look like.

Although there are many different websites and paths to finding an individual licensed professional, we should figure out how to get from “Yeah, I should probably meet with someone someday” to “I called them yesterday and scheduled my first appointment. ” If you’re reading this and wondering if you exist somewhere on this spectrum of commitment, the first step is to assess whether you’re in trouble. Before you proceed to the step-by-step part, you need to make sure that you have immediate assistance if you need it.

If you have thoughts or intentions of hurting yourself or others, it may be considered a crisis. Call or text the suicide hotline immediately: 9-8-8, If it feels like an emergency (you are planning to hurt yourself or others), Contact 911, I realize that’s a loaded statement. Not all emergencies require contacting the police, and even those emergencies that come with greater danger and concerns regarding race, gender, or status. Your 911 dispatcher may have access to other types of crisis intervention specialists, so be sure to ask and be specific. For example, you might say “Do you have a mobile mental health crisis team you can dispatch?”

These are great options for anyone who needs immediate help. You can contact a suicide hotline at any time, but there are other hotlines dedicated to different situations. If you think this applies to you, feel free to contact these hotlines.

suicide and crisis lifeline Call or send a message 9-8-8
Spanish, deaf and hard of hearing options available
Live chat available

National Sexual Harassment Hotline call out 800.656.hope (4673)
Live chat available

substance abuse hotline call out 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Spanish options available

domestic violence hotline call out 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) Or Text “START” to 88788
Live chat available

crisis text line Basic lesson “Home” on 741741.
whatsapp is available
Live chat available

Report Child Abuse call or text 800-422-4453
Live chat available

Follow the instructions given to you by the hotline.


Visit our step-by-step guide on how to find a therapist

1.View your insurance/make a budget

if you have insurance

This can be the most confusing and tiring step of the entire process, which is why many people (myself included) don’t actually complete their first session.

If you have insurance, you may want to take a look at your card. It will have a number you can call to find out about your mental or behavioral health options. You can call and say something like, “I’d like to meet with a counselor [insert city] But I would like to use my insurance. Can you help me find an in-network provider?” Alternatively, many insurance companies have apps where you can search for the type of care you want under your specific plan.

Another approach is to look for individual physicians (see Step 3), find a few that you like, and ask if they take your insurance. If they carry insurance, they will probably have a website that lists which providers they work with. From there, you’ll need to contact your insurance to check if your specific plan covers this specific physician.

If you don’t have insurance

If you don’t have insurance, you’ll want to figure out a budget. You can see a therapist as often as you want or as infrequently (within reason) as you want, depending on your needs and financial circumstances. People usually visit a therapist once every 1-2 weeks, but having just one session a month is definitely fine. Some physicians have sliding scales, which means they can work with you to find a payment option that best suits both of your needs.

Additionally, you can look for free community resources. Often places like your local LGBT center can connect you with free mental health services. Your work may even have an employee assistance program, which usually gives you a set number of free sessions.

2. What am I struggling with? What is important to me?

While you and your therapist will eventually work through different topics or concerns, it will be helpful to know the catalyst for starting your journey of seeking mental health counseling. Are you constantly depressed? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? Crippling anxiety? numb? Having an awareness of what is going on can help you in your search. Many physicians will list their specialties on their website. If there’s something specific or big you’re concerned about, you can check it out on their page.

Likewise, an important thing to consider is whether they are LGBTQ+ and/or have expertise in working with this clientele. Therapists will also list their areas of interest and experience on their website (or, if they don’t, be curious to know why) so you can filter them to get exactly what you expect to find. are doing. For example, if you’re trans and it’s important to you that your therapist deeply understands your journey, you might look for ones that specifically address trans/nonbinary identity and/or trans mental health on their website. Let’s list the health.

3. Search Name

Now that you know your limits in terms of insurance, finances, expertise, and identity, you can start searching on Google.

This part can also be cumbersome, but there are many websites and tools to help you navigate this search. An industry favorite is Psychology Today, a database that lists nearly every therapist by location, insurance, and specialization. If you take this approach, keep a running document of names, phone numbers, and emails that spark your interest.

Additionally, there are several centers of excellence for physicians depending on identity and population.

HIV Information, Hotline and Warmline
Alcoholics Anonymous
latex therapy
Therapy for people of color
therapy for black girls
Therapy for Black Men
Asian Mental Health Collective
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
melanin and mental health
inclusive doctor

4. Send some emails! Call some people!

Now that you have a running list of physicians collected from websites and databases, it’s time to reach out. This step can be scary, so find a way you can support yourself during this time. Maybe a friend can help you hold you accountable, or even help you make phone calls. Establishing an aftercare plan may also be beneficial. For example, “After contacting a certain number of people, I will go get coffee and pastries from my favorite shop.” Please take care of yourself and reward yourself along the way.

It’s helpful to have a miniscript or email template of what you want to say to reduce your emotional and mental labor. When you call or email, just mention that you found their profile through [website] And would like to talk to him about starting counseling for the first time. If you have any direct questions, you can ask those too.

5. Feel the vibe

Once you start making contact, therapists will often want to set up a consultation phone call or Zoom to see if you’re a good match. Sometimes this has to do solely with insurance coverage and sometimes it may be a matter of the doctor’s expertise or availability.

Seeking out a therapist is a two-way street, so you’ll want to be equally empathetic when reaching out to them. Every doctor will be a little different. Similar to getting to know other people, you’ll want to know how they feel when you talk to them. If the first therapist or session doesn’t match your needs, don’t give up! The first appointment for any therapist is an interview where you get to know each other; You might want to give it some time.

If you’re not feeling it after the first few sessions, that’s okay. You can fire your therapist! No big deal! You can return to your list and start again.


Each step of the “how to find a therapist” process can be stressful and tiring, so having a supportive friend can really help, especially if you’re in this last step and you don’t know who the therapist you’re looking for is. They are a nice couple. Trying to find the right person can be overwhelming, give yourself some grace. Almost all licensed therapists will know how to give simple, concise counseling. If you’re feeling really stressed and overwhelmed, share as much as you need with them and ask for what you need.

This process is, well, a process. I want our healthcare system to be set up so that we don’t have to run into trouble, worry about payment or insurance, or waste time figuring out what kind of therapy will work for you. Does it. When you are at a low point in your mental health, all the steps become much more difficult. Just know that you are not alone on this journey. With a little patience and persistence you will find the right therapist for you. I wish you both the best of luck as you continue your self-healing journey!


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