As you may know, if you follow this blog, I am moving from Virginia to Nashville. That’s exciting. Fresh new start in a new place with new people. I can get over the ex-boyfriend. I’ll get a part-time job eventually. Cool. BUT what about my mental health support team? I had my last appointment with my therapist yesterday; last week was the last one with the psychiatrist.
How do you go about finding a therapist or psychiatrist? Where do you start?
Let me tell you something, I have never just “gotten in” to see a new psychiatrist. First you must find one who is accepting new patients. Then check that they accept your health insurance if you have it. Don’t worry, they are happy to take out-of-pocket cash if you don’t. But what I need you to know is that it has always taken me at LEAST a month to get in to see a psychiatrist. So, if you are like me and moving, start looking for a new pdoc BEFORE you move. I move out of here Saturday. I will move to Nashville in September and you know what? I already have an appointment scheduled, because as I said, it takes a while to get in and the first available was the last week of August.
But back to finding some mental health help. The website Psychologytoday.com can be very helpful. You can view profiles of therapists and psychiatrists, see what insurance they take, credentials, etc. Their contact info is right there so it’s easy.
Another possible avenue to go down is to look at universities that have psychology masters and doctorate programs. As far as I know, someone getting their master’s must have some time when they meet with clients (also called consumers). Yes, they are still learning, but they know a lot and are nearly done with their schooling and will soon be licensed and practicing. Same goes for a doctoral student. Some universities have a teaching hospital and you may be able to see a professor, who is also a certified psychologist or psychiatrist. Another great thing is that sometimes they offer their services on a sliding scale – meaning the less you make, the less you pay. I sought help in Austin, Texas at the University of Texas. I had a job, wasn’t a student, just needed someone to talk to and ended up following my therapist when she graduated into her private practice!
Yet another way to hunt down some help is to go through your insurance company. Recently, I started with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, which has a great psych program. I simply emailed the chairman, told him my schpeel, and asked if he could point me in the right direction. Although Vanderbilt didn’t work out, he referred me to another practice. That practice didn’t take my insurance so I asked the receptionist, “Do you have any suggestions on how I can find a psychiatrist and therapist that do take my insurance?” She told me to call the member services number on the back of my insurance card and ask them for some names.
So I did.
Yes, it took 30 minutes on the phone, lots of transferring, and I have no idea what zip code I will be living in, but we just grabbed one and then I had a list of 16 names of psychiatrists that took my insurance. They even emailed me all the names and contact info.
I began calling down the list and the first 6 were no good. Apparently, they were doctors who worked in hospitals and only saw inpatients. I needed outpatient help. I grew frustrated but eventually found a doctor with a therapist in the same office. Exactly what I wanted.
If you see a psychiatrist and want (and I think you should) to see a therapist, they are happy to refer you to one of their colleagues for therapy. That is how I found my last amazing therapist, Gail.
There are many ways to attack the problem of “How do I find a therapist?” Don’t let closed doors and frustration get in the way of you finding help. I wish it were easier. I know that when you are struggling with your mental health the last thing you want to do is deal with the process of finding that help, but it is worth it. Promise.
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