Therapy specialties include Technique specialties, for example: psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and hypnotherapy. Problem specialties include anxiety, depression, mind-body health, sexual dysfunction. Population specialties include children and adolescents, couples, LGBT, patients with disabilities, aging and retirement. It’s often best if you can be specific about what brings you to therapy as you make your search.
Once you have decided that you are ready to consult a psychologist, the next step is to find one who can work well with you. If you are looking for a particular type of therapy, if you are suffering from a particular type of psychological problem or if you want someone who specializes in your particular group, it is helpful to find a therapist known for working in that specialty.
Often getting a recommendation from a friend or relative who has had a successful therapy is a good way to go. If that person's therapist is not available, he or she is likely to be able to recommend someone whose work they respect.
Contact your state psychological association. These groups often have a referral service and/or a "list serve" to announce specific referral requests. All state associations are called "your state "Psychological Association" and are usually listed in a telephone directory or on the internet. For example, The New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA) can be found at http://www.nyspa.org/ or (518) 437-1040
If you have mental health insurance, you may be limited to a certain pool of therapists. If possible, see if you can get a recommendation for someone on this list. See insurance, below.
Using your health insurance benefits.
Mental health benefits have undergone some changes in the last few years. Increasingly, psychological benefits are being restricted and out-of-network benefits, eliminated. Currently, Timothy’s Law, also called Mental Health Parity, requires insurance companies to provide equal benefits for mental and physical health. Having said this, it is important to check with your insurance company to see if they include mental health benefits, whether they are required to be in-network or can be out-of-network and what the deductibles and copays are. Some of the deductibles and copay have increased dramatically which may allow you to consider an out-of-network provider.
Whether to use your mental health insurance benefits.
Even if you have mental health insurance benefits, it is worth considering whether or not to use them. In order to be reimbursed, all mental health professionals must provide both a diagnosis and at some point in the treatment may have to give some description of your psychological condition and progress, in order to justify the service as "medically necessary." This information can be quite detailed. When you pay out of pocket, no information about you is shared with anyone
The problem of Phantom networks.
Another reason you may have to use an out-of-network benefit is that some insurance companies offer what are called "phantom networks," that is, they have listings for mental health practitioners who, though listed, are not accepting new patients or who have actually withdrawn from insurance panels. The patient calls around but finds that it is impossible to actually get services despite an extensive list of names.
Using "out-of-network" benefits.
The most flexibility occurs if you have a policy that allows using an "out of network” therapist. In this case, you pay the therapist directly and the insurance reimburses you for the services at rate that is often similar to what you would be paying an in-network provider, anyway. According to Timothy's Law if the insurance companies provide" out of network" benefits for medical doctors, they must do the same for mental health professionals.