Finding the Right Therapist (Anywhere)

Seattle is a lovely vibrant city, with the requisite attractions like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Troll under the bridge. It’s also very hustle bustle and, some say, is known for a phenomenon called the Seattle Freeze. The Seattle Freeze is a belief that Seattleites are closed to newcomers; it’s difficult to make friends and get close to people here. If you experience loneliness, isolation, or sadness, you may benefit from working with a counselor in Seattle. Seattle has many counselors, psychotherapists, and life coaches, each with different fields of expertise. You could search on Google or ask your doctor or a friend for a recommendation. All of these are useful ways to locate a counselor that might fit your needs. Now what?The next step is scheduling a consultation with a therapist you’re interested in working with.

The consultation is often via phone conversation, although some therapists prefer to meet in person. You can expect to tell a bit about yourself. What motivated you to seek counseling now, have you ever had therapy before, why, and how did it help? What are you seeking help with? What would you like to be different to improve your situation? Have you experienced this issue before and how did you resolve it? What would you like your life to look like in 3, 6, 12 months? This helps the counselor and you envision possible therapy goals.

Then the counselor will explain a bit about how therapy works; discuss frequency of sessions for continuity of care. She’ll describe the process of setting long-term goals and short-term objectives, and explain the process for checking outcomes. Outcomes show progress, what’s working, and what might need to be changed up. Therapists generally check outcomes quarterly, to make sure the progress is flowing along the way you want it to.

She may talk with you about benefits and drawbacks to a diagnosis and possible therapeutic methods shown to benefit specific issues, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s help for depression, motivational interviewing’s help for addictions, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy’s benefit for anxiety, trauma, and phobias.

At this point, you both get to check in with yourselves and see how you think you’d feel working together. Does she listen more than she talks? Do you feel heard and understood? Do you have confidence that she can help? Do you feel like you can connect with her? If the answer to these questions is no, it may be time to seek another counselor.

If you can answer these questions with a confident yes, you can assume this is the therapist for you. At this time in the consultation, one of you, usually the therapist, brings up the topic of money. If you don’t connect, or this therapist specializes in other areas than your issue, it doesn’t matter if the fee is $20 a session. $20 a session gets very expensive when it goes on for years and years.

The therapist then tells you her fee, whether and which insurance she takes, when payment is due, and how/if you can be reimbursed. If your insurance pays out of network, you would likely pay for sessions and your insurance will reimburse you, minus your copay. If you participate in your employer’s flex care spending plan for medical costs, it will likely reimburse you for all therapy expenses, although you need to check your plan.

If all goes as you wish, you two will schedule your first session. You can relax; you already know you’ve got the right therapist for you. Now you can dig right in and start feeling better. And as always, I'm here. You can reach me in Seattle at Balance InSight, 206-790-7270.

Thanks for reading, and be well.

~ Robin