Is the therapist you like right there in front of you?

2 min read

Perhaps you haven't tried therapy or been to a psychiatrist before.  Or it's been awhile.  Either way, if and when you get there be forewarned: it's a forest out there!

Unless you have money to spare and can pay out of pocket for these services - the American Psychiatric Association estimates 30% of mental health professionals take no insurance - you are like most, 'taking a number', often, when it comes to securing an appointment with any mental health professional, regardless of whether or not they take insurance.

It's another battle finding a provider you like.

Many complain this is crazy: why is it that most practitioners have long waits or no openings at all?

For those of us in the Baltimore region, I can tell you, there IS a shortage of providers.  Provider supply hasn't kept up with demand in this area.

Having been a therapist for decades I can tell you that one of my biggest and most frequent complaints with insurance companies is that they don't closely vet the expertise of therapists enough.  I still get calls for children and PTSD, even after I've told each company, that's not my focus.  I could gripe and say 'there they go again, those insurance companies, just worried about money over care'.  And it's somewhat true.

In my humble opinion, the system needs to drastically improve it's 'matchmaking' of clients with helpers.  Maybe a single payer payment system could improve upon that?  Who knows.  Mental health issues ARE complicated and not as cut and dried as medical problems.  There are, for example, different types of PTSD, anxiety disorders and depression, and different potential specialists for each.  

For example, I am not a therapist that treats severe, vegetative depression.  Why? Because people with this issue are usually too tired and/or de-motivated to use therapy, at least not when they are in this phase of their disorder. They need a more intensive therapy and medication treatment program now.

The mental health industry still needs to become more evolved on helping identify specialties and sub-specialties, provide proper training for each AND then make it easy for the public to better identify helpers in their area that have availability and are affordable for them now, not with a two month waiting list.

I'm involved in my profession currently to help address the above and related issues, such as opening up a national, simple registry and licensure for therapists who practice tele-therapy so we can increase the supply of availability for clients in need.

In the meantime, finding a therapist you love going to see is like most things in life: it's up to you!  But there IS help, if you keep at it.  Don't give up, advocating for yourself is important, both in finding a therapist you 'click' with, getting healthier AND the practice it gives you for doing many things in your life better.

If you have a therapist you wish you liked more, for example, consider telling them you want a better working relationship with them.  In fact, they should be checking in with you to see how satisfied you are.  Don't be afraid to tell them.  Finding a therapist you like might be the one you have.  Don't just retreat.  Try first to make it better.  Most counselors are at least average and have adequate enough training to work on this with you.

I use tools for asking you frequently how well our sessions are going, called feedback informed treatment (FIT).  Why? Because the research is clear what makes therapy go best for you and your therapist.  Sometimes FIT can help identify really dangerous issues in clients that can save lives too.