Choosing a Therapist
The decision to begin therapy can be difficult. Often, people wait until their relationships have reached the point of crisis before seeking help. In a state of crisis, it is often hard to spend the time and energy finding the therapeutic setting that will be most helpful. Here are some suggestions:
- Seek help sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until you feel ready to divorce to try to work on your marriage. Start therapy as soon as you notice you and your partner are not making the changes needed on your own. This applies to any presenting problem: parenting issues, grief and loss, etc.
- Ask friends, family and professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.) if they know of a good therapist. Look on TherapistLocator.net, a service of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, to find licensed therapists in your area. Interview a few to see who might be a good fit.
- During the interview, ask about licensure, schooling, therapeutic orientation, areas of specialty and participation in their professional organization. Also ask about fees and available appointment times.
Consider paying out of pocket if you do not find a good fit within your insurance coverage. You are investing in your health and you are worth every penny!
What is Fee for Service Therapy?
Finding a licensed therapist that you fit well with can be a trying experience. And sometimes, the therapist you think is best for you is not on your insurance plan. Now you have some decisions to make: Do you shop for a therapist through your insurance and hope you find a good fit quickly and then only pay your co-pay for each session? Or do you choose Fee for Service therapy? This is where you pay out of pocket a set fee for each session (the service). For some people, the ability to choose any therapist, not have a limited amount of sessions, and have the added confidentiality you get when you pay out of pocket (no forms or reports sent to insurance agencies) is worth the out of pocket expense. For others, the session fees don’t fit into their budget. This is where a little research can save you a lot of time and money. Most insurance plans will reimburse their clients a percentage of out-of-pocket expenses. Some reimburse up to 80%. If you have a $30 co-pay, it could cost you the same amount to see a therapist that charges $150 a session if you’re being reimbursed at 80% as it would to see an in-network provider and pay the co-pay. You can call your insurance company and ask what the policy is for seeing out-of-network providers. And fee-for-service therapists may have more time for their clients since they spend less time on the paperwork involved in insurance billing. Also, ask your insurance company if you can use funds from a FSA (Flexible Spending Account). That can save you up to 30%, as you are using pre-tax dollars. There are many options available to you when seeking a good therapist. Good luck!