Finding a Therapist Can Be Harder Than Admitting You Need One

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If admitting you need a therapist is the first battle, then the second is finding a therapist. I’ve previously written about the secondary infertility and miscarriage that were the origin story of my depression and anxiety. I’ve also discussed the borderline PCOS diagnosis that caused us to end our secondary infertility war. Recently, I also wrote about the day I had to admit that the coping and processing tools I had in place were not doing the job they needed to anymore, and how I came to the place where I had to admit it was time to bring in professional help.

At the end of December, just before Christmas, I met my new PCP for the first time. She was the one who gave me a referral for a therapist. Now the therapist was supposed to contact me, but the PA to my doctor usually sends a physical copy via mail just in case the patient needs to reach out and contact that therapist. It takes about a week to get that referral. With the holiday insanity, I wasn’t surprised that I got the physical referral before I got a phone call. I took a deep breath, reached out, and made the call. The response was not what I expected. The therapist did not take my insurance. When I emailed by PCP, she was confused as I was supposed to be referred to a different therapist.

Errors like that can happen. I had a new name and contact number, so I reached out again.

Only to discover that while this therapist took my insurance, she had no availability. The insurance information list clearly had not been updated. I emailed my PCP again and got the name of another place to reach out to as well as the unfortunate confirmation that the in-house therapy request wait list was so backed up I couldn’t even get on it while I sought other options. I’m not going to lie, I was getting concerned and frustrated. I also saw the dilemma for people whose mental health symptoms include being easily overwhelmed and giving up. I wasn’t ready to give up quite yet, though.

The next practice supposedly took my insurance according to our company and even had availability with a therapist—score! Then when they followed up with the details it turned out that, while the practice says they take my insurance, none of the individual therapists do. By this point I was frustrated and deeply annoyed with our insurance company. What’s the purpose of a list of therapists with availability if they don’t actually take your insurance and/or have availability? It seriously needs to be easier to get help for mental health services. Once again, I feel lucky that my symptoms are not of the dangerous variety, but it really made me feel for those who do have those symptoms.

I spoke to one of my friends who works in the mental health field about my frustration trying to line up a therapist, and she gave me some advice I want to pass on. Insurance company lists regarding therapists are notoriously inaccurate. She told me while she does not work as a therapist, we’d probably find her name on the list if we looked. (It was, in fact, there.) She then gave me name of someone she used to work with that she believed would have availability and thought had a personality type that would mesh with my own. She also told me if that therapist didn’t have availability, that looking through the therapist finder via Psychology Today will give much more accurate information.

I made my fourth phone call, wondering if, at this point, I would have an easier time getting a unicorn from the Easter Bunny. Persistence paid off, though. This therapist took my insurance and we were able to line up a first appointment. It was going to be about two weeks from the phone call, but it was a victory, and after the 3-4 weeks of trying to find someone I had a date, time, and place finally.

I’m sharing this not to be discouraging but to be honest. Lining up someone to help you with mental health issues may take a few frustrating phone calls, and you may get bounced around a bit. If this is going to be super hard for you, and you suspect you might get overwhelmed and try to give up, try to enlist someone who can be supportive and encouraging so that you can get through those leads that don’t pan out. The important thing is not to give up; I didn’t, and now I’m actually set up to get the help I need.

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3 thoughts on “Finding a Therapist Can Be Harder Than Admitting You Need One

  1. This is so true. When one of my children needed a therapist, it not only took time to find one that took our insurance AND had availability, yes, but also my child liked! We ended up having three to meet with and one was a good fit. Its time consuming and takes energy, both things people who need a therapist may not have. I also highly recommend asking someone to help or at least follow up on how it is going during those first frustrating steps. Finding a good therapist is worth it!

  2. Sometimes it is very complicated to find the right person and more if it is about things that affect you like health, in my case it served me to externalize it and tell many people that I needed a therapist in a short time I had contact with acquaintances with a real return of his attention, ethically I was not going to my friend’s therapist but of an acquaintance of them.

  3. Agreed. Not to mention finding a therapist whose personality works well with yours/what you need. On line therapists can be great for filling that gap, but even that has its downsides.

    I found it very useful to contact my companies Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the EAP essentially did all the leg work of finding a therapist that took my insurance, had availability, and that they thought would work well with my needs. They called me with a list of three that they had contacted and said I had my pick and just needed to call the one I wanted and set up the initial visit. The EAP really helped because I was getting completely overwhelmed.

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