A friend and I were discussing this last night: how it can be so difficult to just bite the bullet, pull the trigger (or what have you) and find a therapist and make an appointment. There are so many barriers, it seems. First, figuring out what your insurance can provide, and which therapists take your insurance. Then, possibly searching through a massive (or not so massive) database of options with little to go on other than a tiny, cropped photo and a brief blurb. Maybe you also have to start looking over your finances, to figure out what you can afford out of pocket. All the while, time is going by and perhaps midway through the search you decide, maybe your problems aren't so bad... maybe it's too much of a hassle and you don't need therapy after all.
My advice in four parts:
1) Referrals from friends, colleagues, or ANYONE who has actually worked with the therapist, are gold. You might want to take note of these referred therapists, even if you aren't in crisis, or ready to commit to the self-care of therapy. Take down the name and save it for a rainy day, or the bright sunny day that you decide to prioritize this part of your overall wellness. You never know when you'll be in a pinch and wish you could call and immediately make an appointment with someone you heard was amazing.
2) It's totally fine and normal to call a couple of different therapists. You can always call, ask about rates, and try to get a feel for the therapist and their style over the phone. Not ready to commit yet? That's fine. You can be honest and say that you have a couple more people to call before you schedule a session. Some people "shop" for a therapist by actually scheduling a session with one or two therapists in order to get the feel of an entire session. This is also normal. Many of us go to a couple of hairdressers or trainers before finding one we really like. The same can be true of therapy. If your first experience wasn't what you were hoping for it may just be that it's not a good match- don't give up!
3) Don't think you can afford it? There are many different options that can make therapy affordable for anyone. For instance, some schools run clinics where therapists in training can see clients at a very reduced rate. Many insurance providers will reimburse you for a certain percentage of what you pay out of pocket - you have to call your carrier to find out their policy. Also, many therapists offer a certain number of "sliding scale" spaces for clients who can't pay the full fee. Don't let finances get in the way of finding a therapist. Be up front about what you are able to pay, and if the therapist you call is out of your range, they will be able to refer you to someone else.
4) Just do it. Many people say that going to therapy is something they want to do for themselves, but they continue to put it off. Sometimes the hardest part is making that initial appointment. Remind yourself of this. Carve out some time, make some phone calls and get in touch with someone. Often if the first therapist you call isn't able to fit you in they can recommend someone who they think will be a good match. Also, asking around can often yield some of the best, most reliable referrals.
Expect quotes, observations, tips and reflections.