Articles / A Guide to Finding a Therapist For Your Depression

A Guide to Finding a Therapist For Your Depression

Written by Benjamin Hamburger, Psy.D.

Reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD | Feb. 25, 2019

Types of therapists

There are many types of therapists that can help treat depression. You may have seen the abbreviations Ph.D., Psy.D., LCSW, LMFT, and LPC. Each of these titles refers to the amount and type of training the clinician has received. I will briefly explain what each abbreviation stands for and the training they receive.

  •    Ph.D. (Doctorate of philosophy) – A psychologist who received doctoral level training in research as well as clinical psychology. Typically, a Ph.D. must complete a dissertation to earn that degree. To practice as a psychologist in many states, this individual must be licensed.
  •    Psy.D. (Doctorate of psychology) – A psychologist who received doctoral level training mostly in the practice of psychology. Instead of completing a dissertation, Psy.D. programs require a significant amount of practicum hours to earn the degree. To practice as a psychologist in many states, this individual must be licensed.
  •    LCSW/LMFT (Licensed clinical social worker/Licensed marriage and family therapist) – An LCSW is a social worker who received a minimum of a master’s degree in the field of social work. An LMFT is a marriage and family therapist who earned a minimum of a master’s degree in the field of marriage and family therapy.
  •    LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) – A counselor who has earned a master’s degree and met supervision requirements.

 

Treatment Specialists

 

Whenever you are looking for a therapist, the first question you may want to consider is whether or not the therapist is licensed. If a therapist is licensed, it means that he or she has met a minimum requirement of direct contact hours and has passed an exam regarding practice, laws, and ethics. Licensed therapists are held to a certain ethical standard and risk losing their license if they break that ethics code. Therapists are licensed by each state individually, so please be sure that your therapist is licensed in the state you reside.

How to find the right fit

Many factors go into finding the right therapist. When evaluating a therapist, people often consider the gender, location, and age of the therapist, however, there may be more important considerations to make. Finding the right therapist is all about finding the right fit. Just because your friend had a good experience with a therapist, does not necessarily mean that you will have a similarly good experience.

When looking for a therapist, consider his or her past experiences. On any therapist’s website, he or she will speak about previous therapy experience and training. Check to see if their experience and training seems to be relevant to what you are looking for (e.g., If you are dealing with LGBTQ+ issues you may want a therapist with experience working with that population).

 

Role of the Therapist

 

Another thing to consider when determining fit is what is called therapeutic orientation. Orientation refers to the type of approach the therapist takes to treatment. The most common and evidence-based treatment is a skills-based therapy called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and works to challenge the patient’s automatic negative thoughts. Other popular approaches are psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapy, which many people think of as traditional psychotherapy. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the relationship between the patient and the world around them, while psychoanalytic therapy focuses more heavily on the patient-therapist relationship. There are many other therapeutic orientations, but these are the most common.

Finding a therapist can be a complicated process. It is essential to find a therapist that would be a good fit.

One final consideration when looking at the fit of a therapist is their therapeutic style. Some therapists are very active in therapy and ask many questions, while others allow the patient to talk, offering insights when appropriate. Neither is necessarily wrong, just a matter of personal style. Some therapists assign homework for the patient to consider, or even complete in between sessions, to help the patient continue to process what goes on in therapy. It is important to discuss with a potential therapist how active you would like your therapist to be to see if he or she can accommodate your desires.

How do I pay for therapy?

Therapy can be costly, especially since therapy sessions are typically weekly. Prices can vary depending on location, however, in major cities, one session could cost up to $250 per session. There are ways to make therapy more affordable, however.

Health insurance can be a useful tool in making therapy more affordable. Most insurance plans have many providers who are “in-network,” which means that your insurance will cover a portion of the cost as outlined by your specific health insurance plan. You can look on your insurance website or call your insurance company to find out which doctors are in-network. If you cannot find any providers that are in-network, some insurance plans also have out-of-network benefits, which means they will cover some of the costs for therapists outside of your network. Be sure to ask your insurance company about out-of-network benefits as well.

 

Insurance Coverage

 

If your insurance does not seem like a viable option for covering the costs of therapy, you can try to find a therapist that works on a “sliding scale,” which means that they may charge different prices based on the financial needs of the patient.

Finally, you may be able to find cheaper therapy options at training clinics. These clinics are typically affiliated with graduate programs or post-graduate programs. Training clinics offer therapy from trainees who are fully supervised by a licensed professional. Often, this can be a better value, because you are effectively getting two therapists for the price of one, and at a typically lower price.

Summary

Finding a therapist can be a complicated process. It is essential to find a therapist that would be a good fit. Whether you are looking at their education level, experience, theoretical orientation or their therapeutic style, it is critical to make sure that your therapist will be an excellent fit to help you out of your depression. Be sure to ask if the therapist is licensed to ensure that they have appropriate experience, education and that they follow an approved code of ethics. When figuring out how to pay for therapy, make sure to contact your health insurance company, ask the therapist if they have a sliding scale, and look for training clinics.

 

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended to be used for informational purposes only. This blog should not be used for therapy purposes and does not constitute or establish a doctor/patient relationship. This website offers information and links to helpful resources, however is not intended to be considered treatment.

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