Therapy Available in SF, Marin and Online
870 Market Street #357, San Francisco, CA 94102 | 200 Tamal Plaza #235, Corte Madera, CA 94925

Ok, so you’ve finally decided enough is enough. Or maybe someone in your life said it and you finally agreed. You are going to find a therapist to get some help with what you have not been able to conquer on your own.  This is a great first step as many people struggle for months or years without reaching out for help.  Now that you’re ready to take the step how do you find someone? Who is the right person? How does this process work?

Where to look:  Where do you find a therapist?  Most people feel at a loss as to where to start or overwhelmed by this so you’re not alone. Here are a few places to consider:

  • Psychology Todays website has a therapist finder with options to search for presenting issue (depression, anxiety, etc.), zip code, theoretical orientation(how the therapist sees the dynamics that cause mental health issues and as a result how to treat them. Some of the more common Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic, Humanistic), and/or insurance plan.
  • Good Therapy also has a good search function that allows you to find therapists that take your insurance. Many insurance companies’ provider lists are not as up to date as they are at Good Therapy and Psychology Today.
  • Ask people in your social circle or your physician if they could recommend a therapist.
  • Your insurance company’s provider list can be used as a last resort.
  • Yelp or online review websites.  I’d use these in conjunction with other sources of information such as the therapist’s own website and their psychology today page.  Keep in mind that the reviews should be taken with a grain of salt and that you should not let a questionable review dissuade you from contacting the therapist and finding out for yourself if the person is a good fit for you.

Be patient and persistent. You may need to reach out to several (5-10) therapists to find one that has an opening if you plan to use someone in your insurance network.  If you go out of your network and you have a PPO plan, your plan might reimburse you for a part of your therapy fee.  Speak with your insurance provider to see what they will reimburse.

Where to meet: Due to COVID-19, most therapists are practicing online with clients who live in the states where they are licensed.  One thing to note is that this will likely vary by area as some states and counties are responding to the pandemic with differing levels of restrictions on in-person activities.  If you really want to see someone in person you may need to search longer to find someone who is accepting in-office clients.

When to meet: Do their hours and availability line up with yours?  Most online directories will provide the days and hours the therapist sees clients.  You may need to be flexible around when you meet as most therapists are pretty full or how you meet (online vs. in person) to make it happen.

Whom to see:

  • Find someone who specializes in working with issue{s) you are looking to address.
  • Many therapists offer free phone interviews to see if they will be a good fit for you. They can answer basic questions and help you feel confident that they are capable of helping you make progress.
  • Therapists can have many different degrees. PhD and PsyD are doctorate level degrees, while LMFT, MFT, LCSW, and LPC are master’s degrees.  Doctoral degrees require more coursework and training hours, but there are many good therapists with master’s degrees as well.

In short, interview some therapists and do some online research to find the best fit for you. Personal connection and rapport with the therapist (aka therapeutic alliance) has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of patient outcome regardless of the therapist’s theoretical orientation (how the therapist sees the dynamics that cause mental health issues and as a result how to treat them).  In my next post I’ll be covering what to expect when you start therapy.  You can be notified when this is posted by completing the form below or come back to my blog page at the end of next week.


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If you have any questions or would like to learn more about my practice, please contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation.