Friday, April 7, 2023

Finding a Therapist - The "How To"


This week, I spent time helping a reader find a mental health provider and I want to pass along the "how to" so you can help yourself or a loved one. 

The word “therapist” is a generic term for someone who conducts therapy with clients. Many mental health professionals fall into this category: licensed professional counselors (sometimes called licensed mental health counselors), licensed social workers, and licensed psychologists. I keep saying "licensed" with each of these because it is important to check a therapist's state license and ensure that it is valid. Each state requires mental health therapists to complete continuing education each year and therapists are beholden to state licensing boards. It is important to check our provider's license.

There are different levels of counseling/therapy: outpatient counseling is a standard weekly or bi-weekly office or telehealth appointment that is generally 50 minutes each week. Inpatient counseling is when we stay at a psychiatric facility for more intensive care. Intensive outpatient counseling is when we attend counseling several hours a day each week. 

Counseling can be done face to face or by telehealth. Both work. Telehealth is a great option because we don't have to travel and can complete many forms online ahead of our appointment. 

Most mental health professionals are licensed state by state in the U.S., which means that a licensed counselor in Texas cannot see a client in Washington state. BUT a counselor in Laredo CAN see a client in Houston - or McAllen, or Corpus Christi, or anywhere else in the state of Texas. This is especially important for telehealth; we can see a counselor anywhere in the state where we live, and that opens up possibilities. 

We can get a list of providers from our health insurance or use a listing service like or Psychology Today.

When calling offices to make an appointment, we need to know the following:

  1. Is the therapist taking new clients?
  2. Do they accept our health insurance?
  3. Can they address our specific mental health issues?
  4. When is an "intake" available?
Our initial call may sound like this:
"Hi, I am looking for weekly outpatient therapy for PTSD through telehealth. I have XYZ Health Insurance. Are you accepting new clients? If so, what is your first intake availability?"
An "intake" is the initial appointment with a provider in order to get your background information and create a plan together for your treatment. It is collaborative in nature and does not lock you in. 

I encourage you to call several providers. If you need immediate care or are feeling like you want to un-alive yourself, don't bother with this process: go straight to the emergency room or call the crisis line at 988. They will help you find a regular provider once you are feeling more stable. 

You deserve to recover and regain your life.


If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

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