While seeking professional help for mental health ailments was once greatly stigmatized in America, society has come a long way in its understanding of mental illness. Nowadays, not only has treatment for mental health issues become mainstream but also seeing a therapist seems to be the norm rather than the exception in the United States. There are a plethora of recognized mental health illnesses that are currently listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). As the list of mental health illnesses increased so too have the therapeutic modalities. There are countless mental health professionals in America with a wide variety of specialties. Hence, the idea of beginning the search for a therapist in Los Angeles can seem like an incredibly overwhelming feat, even with the set geographic limitation. Below are some helpful considerations that may make the process a bit easier.
- Ask for referrals: delve into your network of trusted friends and family for referrals. Even in situations where the therapist you are referred to is unable to take you on as a client, he or she will likely be able to provide you with professional alternatives.
- Accreditations: note the accreditations of the mental health provider you are considering. While many mental healthcare workers are required to hold degrees in higher education, they are also obliged to pass certain certification tests and many hold relevant mental health accreditations. Certifications are earned through programs or service that may be based within or associated with a healthcare organization. An individual must earn a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) to become certified in mental health. Accreditations can be earned by an entire health care organization (i.e. hospitals, nursing homes, etc.). Both certification and accreditation require an evaluation by The Joint Commission.
- Be aware of the different therapeutic modalities offered: According to Psychology Today, there are over sixty-five different types of therapeutic modalities currently offered in the mental health field. Most mental health professionals will incorporate a variety of different therapy methods into their treatment plans. Some of types of therapy listed by Psychology Today include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Emotionally Focused Therapy
- Experiential Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Integrative Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Plan an initial meeting with several therapists: although it may seem time consuming, planning on and meeting with more than one therapist can help you make an informed decision. Sometimes it takes sitting with someone to really understand if they resonate with you. If you have several first therapy sessions lined up with different clinicians, you can give yourself the chance to experience different styles and delineate which feels like the best fit. It can also help to alleviate any undue pressure you may inadvertently put on a first therapy session when you feel you only have one option.
- Know your out-of-pocket cost: every mental health provider will charge a fee for his or her services. Some will accept insurance, and some will not. Insurance companies are different, as are their respective tiered insurance plans they offer to members. Insurance companies are required to provide full or partial coverage when it comes to the treatment of mental health conditions; however, the exact amount is variable. Some insurance plans provide extensive in-network and out-of-network mental health coverage with little to no out-of-pocket cost to members, while others may only offer specified coverage for services rendered by in-network providers only. Depending on the health insurance plan, there may be a cap placed on the amount of money a plan will cover and/ or the frequency of sessions allotted for the treatment of mental health illness. It is essential to know how much therapy your insurance plan will cover, both cost and frequency.
Each individual is different and as such will likely require a tailored treatment plan when it comes to treatment for mental health disorders. As unique as each individual is, so too are mental health therapists. Every mental health clinician will have his or her own method for developing treatment plans for his or her patients, hold different certifications, as well as rely on a distinctive subset of therapeutic modalities. When searching for a therapist it is imperative have patience and bear in mind that not all therapists will be a perfect fit immediately. Furthermore, in order for therapy to yield the most successful results, an individual must feel comfortable with his or her therapist. If a therapist does not feel like a good fit, make an appointment with another one.