Therapy can be of profound benefit to mental health, but it’s one of the least accessible and affordable forms of health care in America (and that’s really saying something, given the state of our system. health). Parts of the country are called mental health deserts, as there are not enough practitioners (if any) in the area to meet the needs of the population. In general, there are far fewer psychologists and psychiatrists in this country than are needed to meet the ever-increasing demand for care.
Added to these challenges is the fact that therapy is extremely expensive for most people. The average therapy session can cost $ 200 or more. This makes an easy excuse to avoid diving into therapy, which can also be an emotionally uncomfortable prospect.
But as stated, therapy can be an effective treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It can also help you better deal with relationship and work challenges. As such, it shouldn’t be avoided if it’s something you feel called to do! If this is your first time seeing a mental health professional, here are a few things you may want to know beforehand.
How to start therapy for the first time: 7 tips
Among those interviewed by Hims & Hers who to have tried therapy, 87% said they preferred online sessions over in-person sessions. So your computer can be a good place to start if you’ve never tried therapy before. Since the start of the pandemic, many providers have expanded their services to include online therapy sessions, but there are also providers such as Discussion space, BestHelp, Frame, Real, and more specifically who offer digital therapy services.
The good thing about using any of these latter providers is that they can do the job of trying to put you in touch with the right therapist; otherwise, unless there is a referral, you are only filming in the dark.
And if you’re not a fan of video calling, rest assured – they’re not your only option in the digital therapy space. You can opt for therapy by phone or SMS instead.
If you prefer to go the old-fashioned way in a local therapist’s office, a licensed therapist Minaa B, LMSW recommends using resources such as BestHelp or Psychology today to search for options in your area. From there, she suggests narrowing your search results to two or three therapists. Many therapists offer the first session free so both parties can assess whether it is right for them.
If you are looking for culturally competent care i.e. therapy from someone who understands firsthand your experiences with race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc. instead, you may want to start with one of the following resources: Therapy for black girls; Black female therapists; Ayana; the National Network of Queer and Trans Therapists of Color; the Association of LGBTQ + Psychiatrists; Inclusive therapists; and or Melanin and mental health.
3. Understand the different types of therapy
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to therapy; there are several approaches designed to deal with different types of problems. Interpersonal therapy, for example, is designed to address mental health issues created or fueled by relationships in your life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), meanwhile, is a treatment scientifically proven to be effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and serious mental illness. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a therapy designed to treat borderline personality disorder, suicidal ideation and those who otherwise self-harm. Psychodynamic therapy looks at your past to solve current problems by digging into their origins, helping you recognize patterns of your behavior over time, and more. Humanist therapy takes a positive approach to personal growth by focusing on the right traits and behaviors of an individual and using them to create beneficial change in their life. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. And then there are also non-individual therapeutic opportunities such as couple counseling and group therapy.
4. Be Creative in Funding Your Therapy
One of the biggest barriers to entry for most people seeking therapy is cost. These days, many mental health providers do not accept insurance, and even when they do, it can be difficult to get adequate coverage for weekly sessions.
What you may not know, however, is that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, your employer is in fact required to cover mental health services. So, as long as you are not self-employed, you should expect your business to pay on your behalf (as long as your supplier is networked). But with many providers opting out of insurance partnerships altogether, that benefit often doesn’t mean much.
Still, you shouldn’t be immediately put off by the prices listed on a practitioner’s website. Often times, providers offer their services on a sliding scale, which means you can basically negotiate a lower price if you can’t afford the full cost.
Digital therapy also tends to be (but not always!) Cheaper than its in-person counterpart, so this is one avenue you might want to explore if you can’t find in-person sessions that match. your budget.
And to close the accessibility gap caused by systemic racism in this country, organizations like Black girls breathing and Sad Girls Club offer affordable and even free therapy opportunities for members of the BIPOC community.
Therapy for women founder Amanda White, LPC also recommends calling in a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PMNHP) for treatment in place of a traditional psychologist or psychiatrist. These nurses have been specifically trained in mental health care, and can provide therapy and prescribe medication, usually at a lower cost than other therapists.
Many universities and state departments also offer free therapy sessions, according to the founder of Black Girls Breathing. Jasmine marie. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get hold of these services – you just need to do some research online to find them out.
If you’re nervous about revealing your soul to a complete stranger, rest assured that your first session with a therapist can be as deep or stay as superficial as you want, the clinical advisor explains. Rachel O’Neill, PhD, who works with an online therapy company Discussion space. She recommends letting your therapist know if there is anything that would make you feel more open. (For example: turn off your video if you’re doing digital therapy, or leave voice memos instead of texting if you’re doing text therapy.) Whatever your setup, know that it will likely be at least one little annoying. at first this is quite normal, and to be expected.
Once you have settled into therapy a bit, you may begin to experience a “therapeutic hangover,” in which you feel worse after each session instead of better. It is not, however, a license to run for the hills. The reason for the not-so-great feelings after a therapy session is that you are more vulnerable than you are probably used to, that you are challenged to change, and you are doing the hard work to make that change. it is all uncomfortable to say the least.
In fact, therapeutic hangover is a good sign, says psychotherapist Jennifer silvershein, LCSW. “If the therapy is exhausting, it means you are making genuine change,” she says.
Stopping therapy is super annoying, but Minaa says it’s not your job to worry about your therapist’s feelings. In fact, she explains, professionals are trained to handle the discomfort, so they can handle the rejection. If you don’t feel like you are taking advantage of their services, you can and should stop at any time. (But try not to quit because of number 6 above!)
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