Finding the Right Therapist


A woman looking something up on a computer.To set the scene, it is the second week of March 2020. My coworker has just returned from her vacation in Disney. We are all looking forward to spring and the promise of better weather. Before this, coronavirus had been mentioned in the news a few times but sort of in the background. In a few days, the news is overrun with talk of a pandemic, shutdowns, “flattening the curve,” and general chaos. There was no toilet paper or cleaning supplies on store shelves, yet we kept telling ourselves, and everyone we knew, it was all going to be okay. Before that, PPE was only discussed in those yearly mandatory trainings we took working in the hospital; it was not yet a household phrase. Truthfully, at that point, working in psychiatry, we didn’t even have PPE for all the staff on the unit. We kept on saying, “we will be fine in a week or two.” 

Well, two weeks have somehow turned into two years, and I am pretty sure we were all doing a lot better back then. In the past two years, the uncertainty, isolation, and social division have made us wary of what is to come and waiting for the next shoe to drop. It is as though the trauma is never-ending, and there is always something new to worry about, whether it is “Delta” or “Omicron” or now “flurona” when is it ever going to stop, and how will we “go back to normal?” What will normal even look like?

You may be finding yourself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated with your kids or partner, short-tempered or constantly exhausted, or just needing someone to process all that comes along with this messy thing called life. It may be time to seek out a therapist. 

Calling the past two years a challenge may quite possibly be one of the greatest understatements of our time. Though I believe there is a silver lining. Access to mental healthcare has grown exponentially, and the taboo surrounding asking for help is slowly diminishing. So, where do we even start with finding someone to talk to? 

The first step is knowing the different types of providers.

Therapists come along with many different credentials, including Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), or Psychologist who has a Ph.D. or PsyD. All of these professionals have received Master’s or Doctorate Degrees and many years of training and supervision to provide Psychotherapy. There are also mental health prescribers, Nurse Practitioners (APRN or NP), sometimes Physicians Assistants (PA), or Psychiatrists (D.O or M.D). Some prescribers do offer therapy in addition to medication management if that is needed. 

Next, head to your insurance website to see your coverage for mental healthcare and if you have a copay or deductible.

You can then search on your insurance website to find names of therapists nearby that may be in-network with your insurance company, thereby reducing your out-of-pocket costs. Some therapists also offer “superbills” if you are using “out-of-network benefits,” meaning that the provider will give you a receipt to submit to your insurance company, and you may be reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses based on your insurance plan. 

Some websites may help you identify “in-network” providers, such as,, and These sites can help review your insurance benefits and connect you with a therapist who accepts your insurance, though the process and insurance accepted varies for each site. 

Additionally, you can head to therapist directory websites such as,,, or These sites allow you to input your criteria, and they will populate people in your area who may or may not accept insurance that may be a good fit for what you are looking for. 

You can always choose to private pay for therapy services, meaning you cover all out-of-pocket expenses without support from your insurance company. People choose to do this for many reasons, such as wanting more privacy, more concierge type care that insurance companies do not offer, and overall flexibility for the client and therapist. 

I generally recommend starting with at least three names of providers you find interesting.

Despite what you see online, the therapist’s availability, preferences, or focus and the connection you feel with the provider may vary once you speak to them. Once you identify the names, start by calling or emailing to set up a short consultation, usually 10 to 15 minutes. Often, you will have to leave a message, and the therapist will get back to you as soon as they are able. The consultation call is the perfect time to ask questions about their approach, expertise, setting of the session (i.e., in-person or virtual), and what to expect. Also, during this time, ask about costs, insurance coverage, and available session times. You should also share what you are looking for, as this is a two-way relationship. 

After that initial consultation, you will schedule an appointment and fill out some paperwork before meeting with the provider. Then it is time for your first session! 

Remember, therapy can be awkward at first. This person you don’t know is asking all sorts of personal questions, and it can feel weird. That is okay. As you build your relationship, it gets easier. And, if over several sessions you still feel very uncomfortable with this person, it is okay to express that and ask for other recommendations for a provider you feel more comfortable with. 

The most important thing to remember about therapy is you have to feel comfortable with the person you are opening up to and working with! Without that, you may withhold important information that will help you move forward. You will not hurt the provider’s feelings by saying, “this isn’t working for me.” Your goals and well-being are central to the therapeutic relationship. 

Sarah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private psychotherapy practice in Fairfield and Westport. She focuses on women’s issues, fertility, all aspects of relationships from dating through divorce, life transitions, and overall mental well-being. In warm weather, Sarah is out golfing with her husband or enjoying the beaches of Fairfield. In the cold months, she can be found baking or reading a good book by the fire. 


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