Choosing the right therapist for your anxiety condition is absolutely critical. A bad therapist can not only prevent the condition from being treated, but also make it worse. That’s why we’ve compiled a checklist of steps for you to follow for choosing a therapist.
1. Understand the Costs Involved
Before starting your search, you first need to understand the costs involved in therapy and counseling. The average hourly rate for a counseling session is approximately $100. However, many counselors, therapists, and psychologists offer a sliding scale fee structure, which means they will adjust their fee based upon your ability to pay (as mutually determined by income, expenses, life circumstances, and so forth). Most therapists also accept insurance. If the list of insurance plans they accept are not available online, contact the therapist to see about which plans they accept.
Due to recent expansions in Medicaid, adults in some states may also qualify for Medicaid who were not previously qualified before the legislative changes. Be sure to check with any therapists you are considering as to their ability to take Medicaid as an insurance provider for your sessions with them.
2. Do Your Due Diligence
There are a number of resources for validating a therapist’s credentials as well as determining how other clients viewed the sessions. The first place you should start is with the department of professional regulation for the specific state in which the therapist is located. All legitimate therapists will have a National Provider Identifier (NPI). Plugging this number into the database for the particular state regulatory agency will bring up any infractions or suspensions the therapist may have been given during the course of their career. Here is a list of every state’s professional regulation agency and the web site for it.
Another important step in this process is to check the criminal record of the therapist. Some state governments will allow you to easily discover this information for free, such as on the Missouri courts website. However, you might have trouble with other states – it’s truly hit and miss. Searching for criminal records providers on search engines like Google or Bing should give you some good leads, but be careful – many of these “services” are actually worthless.
Finally, you should see if you can find any reviews from previous clients of the therapist. Try using Google or Bing to locate reviews of the therapist on Yelp, HealthGrades, GoodTherapy, and other sites that provide review services in this space.
3. Interview the Therapist
So far, you have determined the financial aspects involved in choosing a therapist and how to conduct due diligence in order to make an informed decision. After you have filtered your list of potential therapists down to half a dozen or so, you should begin calling or e-mailing each therapist personally and asking them the following kinds of questions:
- What methodologies do you use for treating anxiety and anxiety related conditions? Do you utilize cognitive behavioral therapy?
- How many years have you been in practice? Where did you acquire your degrees?
- Have you dealt with clients in a similar position to myself in the past? How effective was your treatment process?
- For about how many sessions do most of your clients require before they report an improvement in their condition?
You may also want to ask the therapist questions about their continuing education requirements and if they continue to attend conferences and seminars in their areas of expertise.
4. Go to an Introductory Session with the Therapist(s)
Now that you have identified the costs involved on a per session basis, completed your background checks and due diligence, and interviewed the therapist, it may be time to meet with him or her for an initial session. The first session with a new therapist may be a bit awkward, and you might be shy – don’t worry, many folks are during the first session. Use this time to really get to know the therapist and how he or she operates. Your comfort level will be a good basis for helping you determine whether or not you will continue going to further sessions with the therapist.
5. Watch for Warning Signs
Finally, it is important to be on the lookout for the warning signs of a bad or malicious therapist. An excellent and full featured list of warning signs is featured on this page, but here are a few of the major ones to be on the lookout for:
- Does the therapist make inappropriate sexual remarks?
- Does the therapist attempt inappropriate physical or sexual contact?
- Does the therapist invite the client to meet outside the office?
- Is the therapist late to sessions consistently or not showing signs of interest in helping the client?
- Does the therapist fail to take the client’s feelings or thoughts seriously?
- Does the therapist fail to discuss issues the client deems important?
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it should give you a good idea of what is “out of bounds” in a proper therapy session.
Choosing a therapist for anxiety may seem like a daunting task, but following this checklist will put you on the right path to success in overcoming any anxiety problems that stand in the way of the good life you deserve.
Have any more tips or things that should be included in the checklist? Leave a comment below and let us know!