What You Can Expect During the Phone Consultation

When you've narrowed your search down to therapists in your area that appear to specialize in what you are looking for and you've scheduled a phone consultation with them or with the one that you feel most drawn to, you're probably wondering what to expect during the call. Here are some suggestions for what you can talk about, questions to ask and what to be thinking about during the call. 

Most therapists will ask you what you are looking for in therapy. This is your opportunity to give them a brief description of the issues you want to work on in therapy. Because phone consultations are usually 15 minutes in length, the therapist will likely not go too deep into your issues. However, they will ask questions, if neccessary, to get an idea of what you're struggling with and will be assessing for various techniques that has worked in the past. 

The topic of whether you want to use private pay or use insurance will come up during the conversation. Let them know what insurance you use. If the therapist does not accept your insurance or any insurance, they will talk to you about how out-of-network payments work. If they do accept your insurance, the therapist will give you information about what they need from you. 

If you and the therapist sense it is a good fit based on what you need, how the therapist can help, location and other logistics, scheduling will take place during the call. Some therapist may have limited availability and may put you on a waiting list.

Once you've decided on a day/time to meet, some therapists may direct you to their website to complete intake forms. This is helpful for both you and the therapist. Filling out forms in the office can take up valuable time that you could be spending on talking about the issues you want to focus on in therapy.  

While you are talking to the therapist, you'll probably sense right away if you want to take the next step with them. In any case, ask yourself these questions, especially if you are unsure: Do you feel some kind of connection with them? Does it seem like you can open up to them? Do you feel comfortable? Does their tone, energy and choice of words put you at ease or energize you or calm you? Bottom line, if you feel a connection and a sense of comfort, it's likely a good fit and you'll know.

If for any reason it doesn't seem to work out, it's OK. The therapist can try to give you referrals for other therapists that can better help you! Again, it's important that both you and the therapist feel right about the match because the relationship between you is an essential part of why therapy works.


What to Look for When Choosing a Therapist

You know that uncomfortable feeling you get before you do something new, different or nerve-wracking? And then the feeling of relief the moment you do the new, different or nerve-wracking thing and realize, this is not so bad? That's what it's like for some people who find a therapist that's a good match. It's that good feeling you get when you connect with someone you just met. 

Feeling comfortable with your therapist is essential for therapy to work. It's important because it sets the foundation for feeling safe to talk about matters that are private to you, which will help you delve deeper into your feelings. You want to experience some level of trust from your therapist when starting out with them. Overtime, the trust can deepen, which can be life-changing. 

Note that even when you find the right therapist for you, it won't always feel comfortable during your sessions. Discerning if your uncomfortable feelings are due to what you're focusing on in therapy or if it's because you and your therapist may not be a good fit is important. Most therapist ask for feedback about your experience in therapy and for the first 3 to 4 sessions, will check in to see if you feel it is a good fit. From there on, if you feel uncomfortable during sessions, talk to your therapist about it. Much can be gained by exploring your discomfort.

During the free-15 minute free consultation phone call is when you can start to get a feel for what your therapist is like. Read my blog on "What to Talk about During the Phone Consultation," if you want more information.

Best wishes! You are on your way to transforming your life! 



Searching for a Therapist

Maybe you've been putting off going to a therapist for awhile. That makes sense. You've taken care of your problems on your own. You've used coping skills. You've talked to friends and you're independent. But things changed and you feel stuck. Self-care practices you've been using to cope, like yoga, exercise and friends' support aren't enough right now. And now maybe it's time to look for a therapist or counselor.

Because you're reading this, you obviously know the basics of doing google searches to find what you need. But here are some suggestions for finding a therapist to add to your search.

Once you've narrowed down your search, I invite you to read my blogs on "What to Look for When Choosing a Therapist," and "What to Talk about During the Phone Consultation."

Start with Google and search for "psychotherapy" and/or "counseling." You will find listings of local therapists.

Take a look at Psychology Today. Here you will find listings of psychotherapists in your area. On Psychology Today you can search by location, type of therapy, type of issue, gender, your insurance plan and much more. Usually therapists will have links to their websites where you can learn more about their practice.

Try your health Insurance plan website. Search for words and phrases such as "counselors," "psychotherapists," "mental health therapists" or "behavioral health." A list of providers for you to choose from will be displayed. Or call your insurance for more information.

Look into your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a confidential program and is provided on a session-limited basis to employees who need support with stressors, life transitions and challenges. Licensed psychotherapists or counselors apply to be on a company's EAP provider list. Your company's EAP will give you names of psychotherapists from this list for you to choose from based on your needs. Please note: Not all companies provide EAP benefits. Check out this website for more information: 


Ask your doctor/dentist/chiropractor/psychiatrist or their office support staff. They may have a list of therapist referrals.

Ask people you know if they know of good therapist in your area. Word-of-mouth is a great way to find good therapists in your area. You can ask therapists you talk to give you referrals or cal local mental health agencies to find out if they have a list of therapists that take medi-cal or other insurances and to find out if you qualify for their programs. 

In addition to, or instead of individual therapy, try searching for group therapy. Group therapy is an effective form of therapy in which you can learn a great deal about yourself and the role you tend to play in groups. And sometimes the cost per session is less than for individual therapy. They're usually facilitated by one or 2 therapists and focus on anxiety, codependence or relationships and other issues. Some people may not feel ready for group therapy. 

Once you've narrowed down a list of therapists to choose from based on their location, specialties and preferences, now it's time to reach out. 

Reach out by calling the therapists on your list. Or if they give you the option to email them, send them a message to schedule a phone consultation. I recommend talking to the therapists over the phone to give you the opportunity to get a feel for them, how they work and to see if it feels like a good match for you. Read my blog "What to Look for When Choosing a Therapist."

Good luck! Finding a therapist is another step towards healing!