As individuals are continuing to become more open to receiving therapy, I’ve noticed that even though many are mentally to begin therapy, they may also be emotionally overwhelmed around the process of looking for a therapist. I often tell prospective clients that looking for a therapist is like dating. You may have to chat to many before you find the right fit. In this article, I am going to share with you, some of the variables to consider, as well as general tip on how to go about looking for a therapist. This is not a sponsored posts, so any links I share is because I just believe in them to be adequate sources.
Understanding the therapeutic framework(s) that your potential therapists believe in and operate from is somewhat equivalent to understanding the family or values that has shaped a friend or significant other. There are over 50 therapeutic frameworks and most therapists pull from several. When a therapist goes to school, no matter if they’re background is social work, psychology, clinical counseling or marriage and family therapy, they are taught about human behavior from various perspectives. Those perspectives guide their approaches, tools, and understanding of a clients’ particulars needs and limits/strengths. For example, I am very introspective based, therefore my sessions are not typically venting spaces. I ask my clients a lot of questions, and provide deep dive questions and worksheets outside of session.
When you inquire with a therapist, ask them about their approach, and how they may go about supporting you. Here is a great list of various therapy approaches .
Are you looking for therapy for a child, adolescent, adult, couple, partner arrangement or family? Are you looking for in-office sessions, online therapy, or in my case, eco-therapy? All therapists don’t serve all populations. There are some therapists who are strictly online. There are some that are just in-person. There are others who offer both for flexibility. For myself, as a mindfulness focused practitioner, I offer sessions outside, which we refer to as eco-therapy.
Private Practice or Community Based
There are therapists that work in private practice and therapists that work in community organizations. Those who work in private practice tend to have higher fees, whereas those in community organizations may offer lower fees or no fees at all. Community organizations typically receive financial support from local, state and federal agencies to provide mental health resources to the community. Those in private practice may take insurance or allow for private pay. Community organizations will often have public resources to offer you, in supporting your psychological needs. Those in private practice may make outside referrals, and share private resources with you.
Costs/ Forms of Payment
All therapists have different payment systems. If you have insurance, you want to check if your therapist takes your insurance/ are in network with your provider. If the answer is no, you can also inquire if your therapist provides superbills, or if your insurance provider accepts superbills. Superbills are summary of your services, and some insurance providers allow you to pay out of pocket, but may reimburse you up until a designated amount, for the services rendered. For example, if the therapist charges $150 for a session, and you find out your provider reimburses up to $75 or 50%, you will initially pay $150, but after submitting your superbill, your insurance company will send you a check for $75. When neither of these apply, you will have to pay cash. You may see the words cash pay, private pay, or out-of-pocket on a therapists’ website or therapy profile. For clinicians that take private pay, they will likely have an online payment system set up.
It is often known that costs can be a barrier to some people having access to therapy. Most therapists base their fees on the average of their city, the cost of living, their educational/credential level, as well as their demand. When it comes to therapy, there are some therapist who have a public price, and some may offer limited sliding scale (income/situation based) fees. There are also therapists who offer pro-bono services.
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Grief is an emotive experience I have been more comfortable with over the last few years, as I have lost both my primary parental figures since 2016. My grandfather passed in 2016 and my mother passed in 2018. I could never really describe the depth of the pain I felt, but I can tell you that bother experiences took me out of work and required an intense of amount of therapy, mindfulness, and external support to get through. As a therapist, what I know, is that we are constantly grieving various aspects of our lives because change is constantly occurring. We grieve changes in in career and work, possessions, relationships, and parts of ourselves.
Even in knowing this, there is one aspect of grief that I have had to accept will always be ever-present and will never change; the grief and experience of being a Black person. In the US, Black bodies have been exploited, murdered, abused, and pillaged since the creation of the 13 colonies. It is these actions that help create the superpower that is the US. Those in power, have done an exceptional job to continue their systems of degradation, disenfranchisement, abuse, neglect, murder, and exploitation to this day.
As a history buff, I carry an extended historical insight into the Black experience in the US, but also experience of African peoples dispersed across the globe because of Imperialism. As a Black body, my DNA carries the emotional experience of my ancestors. As a person living in the 21st century, thanks to print, tv and social media, I get to carry the images of countless names of Black bodies killed by white people who claim fear and protection.
It is hard.
As a therapist, I get to create safe, open, and honest space for my clients to share their most difficult, exciting, darkest, light-bearing, and vulnerable selves. I love being a therapist. Its what I've wanted to do ever since I was 8. And in that love, is one of the most difficult challenges: maintaining composure and the capacity to hold space for them, when we are both grieving another black body being lynched, murdered, abused or exploited in a hate crime.
Usual emotions that come over me whenever I hear a hate crime: sadness, anger, hurt, pain, disgust, confusion, and/or envy. It is rarely shock because of all the reasons mentioned prior. Grief begins to ensue. More tears for another person who will become another hashtag , and really be forgotten by the people who should see that the elimination and genocide of Black bodies is disgraceful and the fact that those who take their lives, rarely get any type of serious consequences, goes beyond injustice.
So imagine, I get to move through my own emotions, put them on pause, so I can be present for my clients, and often have to look at the cascade of tears running down my clients cheeks. It feels like torture. To add insult to injury, there are unfortunately many white therapists who don't care or are indifferent during these times, and so, I also think about the Black clients who don't even have someone empathetic enough to their experience, holding inadequate space for them.
Sometimes I just cry, in confusion, and ask, why can't they see us? Why don't they see we are humans? Why don't they see that we matter? Why don't they see our value beyond beauty, athleticism and entertainment? I think to myself, how freeing it must be for people who are racist to be numb to the pain of others. I'm fortunate , I could never be that way. However the down side to being so compassionate and empathetic, is feeling so intensely, and you just want to stop it sometime.
I do my best to affirm my clients. Most of them are from historically marginalized groups, and of course, when aspects of your identity is targeted through hate, how can you not develop beliefs doubting your worth or value? To be a member of an oppressed group, trauma based off ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, vehemently shapes your perception of yourself.
By May 31, 2020. there have been 10 public cases around the murder of a Black person at the hand of a white person, and that's just public news. It hurts. I'm sad. Its exhausting to hear and have to move through. I want to cry with clients. I want to scream. Some days. I just don't even want to see clients. I have mastered self care, so fortunately, I engage in a lot of deep restorative practices, but no matter what, it feels unfair. Its unfair that race based trauma is still a reality of 2020. Its unfair that my emotional body, continues to have experiences to hold on to. Its unfair that my brain and body has to continue to adapt to the trauma. I can't stand it, and all the while, its something I still have to accept. Whether I'm in the US or another country, I have to spend my lifetime, continuing to witness parts of me dying.
Despite it all, I always lean into gratitude and focus on strengths. That is literally, what gives me the strength and depth to show up for my clients. It hurts, but I'm grateful and proud to be a Black woman. I can't stand that they do this to us, but I'm proud that some people feel so threatened, that they want to exterminate us. I'm grateful for allyship. I'm grateful for advocacy. I'm grateful for progress in opportunity and some justices. I'm grateful for a richness in history and the impact Black people have made in this world. Lastly. I am grateful for the resilience. Because no matter what, we always rise, and that is something to be proud of and celebrate.
I just want people to know, the therapists are hurting too; they grieve, get depressed, and anxious about some of the same current events as you.