You can find the right outpatient private practice counselor for you at an affordable rate, you just need to know how to go about doing so.
Almost everyone shops around looking for the right counselor who either accepts their insurance or that they can afford to see if they pay out-of-pocket. A breakdown in the process of seeking help occurs when someone finds out that the counselor doesn’t accept their insurance or their rate isn’t within their out-of-pocket budget, the person tends to cutoff the conversation right there. They hang up the phone or don’t reply to the email. Unfortunately, people will fully end their search because they aren’t sure what else there is to do.
There are alternative and proactive ways to maintaining the conversation when you find out that the counselor doesn’t accept insurance or the rate isn’t within budget. Ask questions.
Ask the counselor these questions
* Even if you want to use your insurance, keep your options open by considering out-of-pocket because part of your goal is to find a counselor who is the right fit to work with. Therapy can be a great experience with the right professional… laughter is allowed in therapy. When someone closes off the out-of-pocket option, they’re also possibly preventing finding the person who they feel comfortable talking to. *
• Do you offer a lower rate?
• Do you offer a sliding scale?
• Do you offer pro-bono?
• Can you recommend anyone who may be able to help?
• Do you offer other services that might be able to help me?
Counselors are open and willing to talk about fees and other services. They aim to be non-judgmental and want to meet people where they are at. It doesn’t hurt to find out if they are able to meet you where you’re at financially.
Keep on the lookout for free resources and tips that the counselor may offer. This could be an educational social media page, YouTube channel, blog that you could subscribe to, or ebook. Don’t pass up free resources, take advantage.
Tip: stay organized
Keep track of who you talked to, how to contact them, the questions you have, and their answers all in a notebook. Doing this will manage stress and remembering who said or offered what. Be mindful of where you keep your notebook to protect your confidentiality.
Telemental health has actually been around for several years.
• Telemental health is only for the underserved and those who live in rural areas.
Anyone can use telemental health. It saves travel time, gas money, and can more easily fit into a busy schedule.
• You miss out on nonverbal cues with telemental health.
During video chat, nonverbal cues can still be picked up. Proper room lighting, camera placement, and having a strong internet / wifi connection play an important role in this. The mental health professional will let you know if they can’t see you.
• It takes longer to develop rapport with telemental health.
It takes the same amount of time as in-office sessions to develop rapport, keeping in mind that the counselor should be a good fit to work with.
• Telemental health is not secure.
Telemental health can be set up HIPAA compliant and secure to the standard of ethics. There are multiple safeguards in place.
It can be challenging and anxiety provoking to find the right counselor. Sometimes it’s difficult knowing how to find the help that you specifically need. This article’s tips will answer some questions, help develop a plan, relieve stress, and lead you to finding the right counselor.
Licensed Professional Counselors
A licensed professional counselor works with people in most areas of life: Reducing anxiety; coping; adjusting to changes; dealing with depression and grief; overcoming trauma; fighting addiction; educating people about mental illnesses; family, marriage, and couples issues; relationships and communication; mental health disorders.
When choosing a counselor, look for someone who seems like they would be a good “fit”
Look at the counselor’s specialties, they should be mentioned or listed on the counselor’s profile and website.
• If you need help taking steps fighting an addiction, look for someone who specializes in addiction counseling.
• If you are going through a divorce, find someone who specializes in marriage and divorce.
• If you’re looking for Christian faith-based counseling, try searching in an online Christian counselor directory if you aren’t sure where the local Christian counselors are.
Approach to Therapy / Theoretical Orientation
Check out the counselor’s approach to therapy and the theories they apply.
Some counselors use a variety and combination of these. Don’t stress on knowing the methods and theories, the counselor can teach you if you’d like to learn. Having a basic understanding that these theories are out there can lend a hand in making a decision about who you see. Certain theories are more appropriate than others when treating certain mental illnesses, the counselor will know these details.
When Using Health Insurance
If you want to use insurance to cover the cost, contact them and inquire about behavioral mental health providers in your area. Find out what your co-pay is. If you’re seeking a teletherapist, check to make sure your insurance covers teletherapy (again, check to see if there’s a co-pay because virtual mental health services might cost different than in-office services.). Once you contact a counselor, double check that they accept your insurance.
Find a Counselor Through an Online Directory
Another way to find a counselor is to check online directories. Some of these directories allow you to filter, which saves time and helps you find a counselor who better suits your needs. Psychology Today is a fantastic place to search for a counselor. TherapyDen is also an awesome site to look at. If you’re looking for a counselor who is plant-based or vegan, try Plant-Based Doctors. Using an online directory is a great way to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Create a List of Counselors and Questions
When you find a counselor that you’re interested in working with, write down their contact information and website. Create a list of five or so counselors and then visit their websites to learn more about them. As you learn more, you may realize that they don’t quite fit your needs, so you can cross them off your list. Jot down any questions that you may have for that counselor about their services.
Learn About the Counselor Through Social Media
You can learn a lot about a counselor’s approach, views, theoretical orientation, personality, vibe, etc, through their business’ social media page and blogs. Check out what they post and write about. Look for pictures of their office, sometimes there are pictures to make clients feel more comfortable in knowing what to expect.
Contacting the Counselor
Whether you’re contacting them through email or a phone call, make sure that you’re in a private space so that your confidentiality won’t be at risk when you share with them a little about what you are seeking help for. Sharing a few sensitive details helps the counselor determine whether they can help you or if they need to lead you to other services.
After learning more about the counselors, call them to have your questions answered or to schedule an appointment. I can’t speak for every counselor, but most offer a free phone consultation. Ask about whether they accept insurance and the cost of session. Ask about what you can expect during a session. Ask about the paperwork process. Ask any other questions that come to mind and that you wrote on your list.
If you’re having difficulty reaching a counselor by calling, consider emailing them. Counselors should have their emails set up safe and secure. Texting a counselor’s phone isn’t secure, so don’t use that method of contact.
Notice Thoughts, Feelings, & Gut Instinct
When you’re talking with the counselor on the phone, briefly check-in with your thoughts, feelings, and gut instinct. Are you comfortable? Do you see yourself sitting across from them? Is your gut feeling telling you that this is the right person? The gut instinct is usually accurate.
Ask Friends and Family
To get a better idea about what to look for in a counselor, ask your friends and family who are seeing one what they like about them. This isn’t a good way to get a referral, but it can give you an idea on counselor personality, traits, and practices to look for.
It can be tough finding the right counselor, but using these tips to create a simple plan will make it easier.