I don’t think there’s one person who doesn’t feel out of sorts amid everything occurring today. It’s fair to say that our collective mental health has been affected and everyone is coping differently. For better or worse, we are finding our way in navigating through immensely turbulent times. For myself, this equated to scheduling and attending my counseling sessions.
The bigger part of the story, was the process involved in finding the therapist I now regularly have sessions with.
Part 1: Seeking Therapy
In this day and age, there seems to be a lessened stigma surrounding the action of “going to therapy”. As a member of Generation Z, I feel it’s more normalized to speak about seeking counseling. I vocalize this point initially, based on recently listening to the sentiments shared in this episode of the Real Reel podcast. Overall, therapy seems to enter the conversation more. At times, it’s hesitant within certain social circles, but it has become more common-place and normalized.
Despite seeing therapy as a rising option in pop culture and my daily life, I didn’t seriously consider seeking out a therapist until the end of 2019. I was going through a rough point in confronting my fragmented sense of self-concept, entering a new relationship, and was finally overcoming a slew of life transitions, including graduation, moving twice in six months, and receiving a promotion. Phew!
New Year’s Intentions For 2020: I knew I wanted to aim toward becoming my best self. This was mostly aimed at my intense social anxiety and depression, which are two conditions that I’ve struggled with from a young age. I’ve consciously known that I’ve been standing in the way of myself for not addressing these areas of my life sooner.
I began the process of looking for a counselor in November of 2019 and finally secured an appointment for intake in March of 2020.
It’s been a process. What took so long?
Part 2: The Search
For one, I made the mistake of not using my insurance’s directory from the start. I found it was difficult to find a therapist who accepted insurance in general, accepted my insurance, or was a therapist staying in-network if they did accept my insurance.
I originally searched through Psychology Today. While the list of insurance providers for each therapist was not as accurate as I would have hoped, the major selling point of the search resource was being able to see counselor profiles, descriptions of their overall approaches, and their areas of specialty. In comparison, an insurance directory is usually a name, address, and phone number. Both have their strengths and are worthwhile to check into, should you also be searching for help at the moment.
I spoke with several counselors through Psychology Today by scheduling preliminary consult calls to gauge if we were a “fit”. Typically these calls were around 15 minutes. During the call, I would share a snippet about myself, the major struggles I was facing, and what I was hoping to get out of therapy. Sometimes the counselor would chime in with questions to delve deeper, or share more about their practice and costs. I met a variety of counselors, but often found that their per-session price or their inability to accept my insurance, were major hurdles.
When my search felt like a dead-end based on insurance and monthly budget constraints, I ended up searching my insurance website to generate a full directory listing of local professionals. From there, I cold-called individuals and clinics across the 14 directory pages I had, focusing on the prospects that were closest to me.
I received calls and messages from multiple parties from the directory, but many were full and had immense waiting lists. I was starting to worry…until I heard back via text message from one of the counselor’s that I had cold-called from the insurance directory. The communication was prompt, straightforward, and easy. I held a mini-consult call over text message and scheduled an intake. (I’m sure I sighed in relief.)
I’ve been working with the same therapist for three months now with in-person and online sessions.
Part 3: The Key Takeaways
- It can be a struggle to hear a response as counselors field so many inquiries and are busy with existing clients.
- You should feel comfortable with moving on from dead-end messages and phone calls.
- The first couple of counselors that you meet with in person might not be your long-term counseling solution.
- Counselors are often booked up with clients — up to half a year in advance.
The last point was the most surprising to me.
While it may be dependent on geographical location, there seemed to be more demand for therapy than available therapists in the area. When I called a few local offices, they later got back with me to say there was a 6–7-month waiting list.
Suffice it to say, many people are seeking therapy. This goes back to my introductory point in my search: Seeking therapy is not a rare action these days. People are making it a part of their lives.
With that known, I felt less alone and more confident in getting the help I needed. Moral of the story: You’re not alone in asking for help and going through the process of finding the best way to cope with current challenges.
I’m planning to post a second part to talk generally about therapy sessions, both online and in-person.
Part 4: Spotlight on Mental Health
Lately, I’ve been rebranding my blog and being more vocal on social media around the topic of mental health. Steadily, I’ve transitioned away from sharing food photos, and instead promote raw and personally engaging content. This rebranding is a more vulnerable reflection of myself, spotlights amazing creators, and focuses on the conversations I want to be a part of, concerning personal development and mental health.
That being said, I wanted to take this time to share my journey in bettering my mental health.
You can also follow the daily thoughts and personal development advice I share on my Instagram account @camilleoutsidethebox