How to Find a Therapist, Step by Step

Finding a therapist can be a confusing, frustrating process. Here’s how to do it.

1. Get clear about a few things

In my rough draft of this post, I started with “Get clear about why you’re seeking therapy.” But then I deleted that.

  • Is there a particular skill you want to learn (communication skills, calming anxiety, mindfulness meditation, etc.)?
  • Do you prefer any particular identities? (Man, woman, non-binary, person of color, LGBTQIA+, sex-positive, etc.)
  • Do you have health insurance? If so, how much “out-of-network” costs does it cover (more on this later)?
  • Are you open to teletherapy (video chat)?
  • How often do you want to see a therapist? (Depending on your level of distress, it might be weekly, every other week, or even less often.)

2. Ask friends for referrals

As my journey shows, getting a recommendation from someone you know can bear therapeutic fruit.

3. If that doesn’t work, use databases

The most popular therapist database is Psychology Today. You can use the search function right in the middle of the homepage, starting with your city or ZIP code. Then you can filter by what health insurances they take, what “issues” they focus on helping with, and more.

4. Avoid BetterHelp, TalkSpace, and other venture capitalist-funded online therapy companies

This isn’t exactly a step and more of an ax to grind. Therapy apps like BetterHelp and TalkSpace are ostensibly trying to do a good thing: use technology to improve access to mental health care. But like many tech companies, they’re struggling to balance that mission with the bottom line of their investors.

5. Reach out to set up an initial phone/video call with multiple therapists

Try to find multiple therapists who seem to fit what you’re looking for. Trust your gut when reading their websites and database profiles.

  • What did you do before you became a therapist? (Something in their story might resonate with your life experience.)
  • Why did you become a therapist?
  • What type of therapy do you use? (They might something like “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” which you can pop in Google to learn more.)
  • How often will I be able to see you? (You might be looking for therapy every week, every other week, or even less often.)

Download my free ebook on how meditation has made me less anxious and transformed my life.

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Jeremy Mohler

Writer, therapist, and meditation teacher. Get my writing about navigating anxiety, burnout, relationship issues, and more: jeremymohler.blog/signup