We have discussed the different disciplines in the Mental Health field in the first two articles. So, what is a consumer to do? It’s all a bit overwhelming.
First, coverage. If you have an Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP), most Psychologists do not work for the lower paying EFAP. You generally cannot pick a therapist or a discipline in an EFAP.
On the contrary, if you have insurance (pay and get reimbursed), most insurance plans only cover Registered Psychologists. While insurance companies are being more inclusive to disciplines other than Psychology, check your plan first. Remember, the actual registering body of the professional is the key here. Registered Psychologist or Registered Social Worker generally are the only two Mental Health disciplines covered.
Getting a recommendation on a therapist is often a good idea. Personally, I would be reluctant to see a therapist without a recommendation by a trusted friend. Most therapists don’t mind a brief telephone interview. Tell the therapist what you are doing and ask them questions suiting your concerns and values beyond what is said on the website.
Remember, the purpose of your first appointment is to tell your story and further rate them. I tell my clients they need to give me at least an 80 percent satisfactory rating before returning. If it is a couple, they each need to give an 80 percent grade. Couple’s counselling will fail if one gives 50 and the other gives 100 percent.
You will need to establish if you are wanting a “process” or “outcome” therapist. Process therapists are nice, kind, warm and interested in the relationship where your self-evolved insight will be helpful. Outcome therapists on the other hand, while some can have these characteristics, more importantly focus on the outcome – the goal. They focus on few sessions with maximum outcome. Generally, only Veteran therapists practice the more direct approach.
Cost varies amongst disciplines. Psychiatry and Psychiatric nurses are generally covered under medical care. As are all other public Practitioners. Those in private practice have wide ranging rates from under $80 per hour to $180. The costs vary depending on the qualifications (PhD generally demands a higher price) and the experience (a therapist of under 5 years’ experience generally charges a lower rate). The location (therapists operating out of their home have no expense) and the size of the group (sole practitioners with no operating costs are the least expensive).
You can always quit the therapist if you find the match (most important factor of all) is not working. Admittedly, if you have seen 4 therapists and all were unsatisfactory, you may be looking in the wrong direction. Best of luck with your selection.