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A Beginner's Guide to Starting Therapy

How do you even find a therapist?

It's absurd how daunting and confusing this first stage can seem, especially when it's likely that part of the reason you're seeking therapy is that you're feeling overwhelmed. (And if, after reading all of this, you still feel that this first step is just too difficult, know that you can and should reach out to loved ones to help you make these calls!) But there are ways to make this imperfect process a bit easier.

"It's very difficult, as a patient and customer, because you don't know very much going into it," says Dr. Jacques Barber, dean and professor of the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University. "If we had a better rating system for therapists it would be easier, but we don't. A lot of the time we go by reputation, and that helps. You can check listings of therapists at, which is pretty good. We can ask our friends, but sometimes they can't always tell us the truth, as they might not want us to see the same therapist."

Many insurance plans provide databases where you can search by location, method of therapy, and specialty. Susan Lindau, LCSW and University of Southern California professor, recommends getting referrals from other health providers, especially if you're looking for a specific area of expertise. "If a client is seeking specialized services, s/he will ask for a specific type of support from another therapist," she says. "My referrals often come from a previous therapist or psychiatrist or a treatment facility."

The best thing to keep in mind is that it's often a matter of trial and error: You might talk to a few different therapists before you land on the right one, and that's OK.

Read more here.

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