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How I did it: I was supposed to see a therapist about 6+ months ago, but I put it off (the curse of the Procrastinator). And I put it off. And I suffered. And I put it off some more.
But I hit the wall and one day I couldn't put up with the suffering anymore.
To find a therapist, I had to work with my health insurance as well as do my own research online on psychological counseling.
It wasn't particularly fun trying to find information on someone who you know absolutely nothing about, and trying to decide whether they'll "fit" your needs and be someone you feel comfortable putting your personal issues on the table with. It's just like any other doctor or dentist or medical specialist out there. Sometimes you like them, sometimes they creep you out, sometimes their staff is unprofessional, etc. You just have to decide whether they meet your standards and needs at the time.
Lessons & tips:
- Talk to your primary care physician first- sometimes they can give you a list of names to call.
- Think about how far you are willing to travel to meet a therapist. Personally, in my town a lot of them are down town, and going there just stresses me the hell out. Therefore, I knew that if I wanted to make my sessions more about my treatment and less about paper-bagging myself out of a traffic-induced panic attack I needed to think local.
- Call your insurance and get them to discuss your copays and authorization to cover mental health services. Your insurance might cover it, but you'll never know if you don't call. Also, make sure that they will cover (or are "in network") with the therapist you are seeking.
- Be prepared to fill out some paperwork discussing your family history involving mental illness, addiction and such related things. It would be a good idea to ask your family if there's a history of depression or other things, as well as having some knowledge of what medications they take for their conditions. Of course, knowing these things about yourself is a must as well.
- Don't be afraid to grill the therapist you are seeing about their schooling, their occupations, their experiences treating your specific condition, etc. These are all questions they should be able to answer right off the bat. It's almost like a job interview- you're paying them for mental health services, and you shouldn't have to pay for shoddy work.
- Acquire a list of specialists, therapists, etc. To call. Chances are you won't be able to get ahold of one, or this one isn't taking new patients, or this one is retiring soon, etc. Be prepared for a "no".
- If you get caller anxiety like I do, it helps to write down a quick prompt when you get someone/something like a voice mail on the line.
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