Taking control of your mental health by reaching out for help is a courageous step. However, knowing where to find a quality therapist in New York City can be a stressful endeavor. How do you know what type of therapist to choose? Is it possible to gauge how warm, competent and experienced the therapist will be? And most importantly, how can you ensure that your care is affordable?
The city offers an abundance of mental health care providers, but choosing the right therapist can be a difficult decision for anyone to make. In order to aid your search, below we have outlined our best tips for finding quality mental health care in New York City.
Where to Start Looking
Getting referrals from close friends and family members can be a great place to start your search for a therapist. You might find they have worked with a provider in the past who would be a good fit for your particular challenge. However, keep in mind that every person is unique and what worked for one person’s needs may not be the exact kind of care you’re looking for at this time.
Search online at Psychology Today. This helpful directory allows you to search for credentialed professionals by zip code. You can even further refine your search by important details like insurance carrier, gender, issue or even treatment style. Each listing provides a short description of the therapist’s background, issues they treat and quick contact information.
Choose a group practice. While therapists working in private practices are often fantastic, working with a group practice can provide an extra level of insurance for your care. You’ll have confidence that your therapist has been vetted and verified by their peers. Plus, therapists working as a team often collaborate on cases, ensuring the best treatment plan is developed utilizing their collective skill sets.
Connect with non-profit organizations like schools or faith communities that may have referral lists. Many therapists provide regular support for local groups who can speak to their expertise. Healthy Minds NYC, for example, is a recommended psychotherapy practice for many organizations, such as the School of Visual Arts and Redeemer Presbyterian Church here in the city.
Ask your other medical providers. Your primary care provider or other physicians may have great recommendations for trusted therapists. If you’re happy with the care you’re receiving from your PCP, see if they collaborate with or have previously worked alongside any mental healthcare providers. For example, our psychiatrists were trained at the reputable Mount Sinai Hospital here in New York City. As a result, they have worked side by side with many local medical professionals who have firsthand experience with our team and can verify their competence.
The Different Kinds of Therapists
In your search for a therapist, you’ll quickly see that providers have a wide range of backgrounds and training. Here is a quick overview of the most common types of care providers in New York City:
Psychiatrist (MD) - A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health care. These physicians can provide both psychotherapy and medication management to address both the psychological needs you have as well as the biochemical aspects of mental illness.
Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) - A marriage and family therapist is equipped to provide care for individuals, however has special training to focus on relationship dynamics both within couples and families. Marriage and family therapists are excellent resources for conflict in relationship, marital therapy or working through issues such as codependency, boundaries, anxiety and relational stress.
Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) - A clinical social worker is similar to a marriage and family therapist in that they both work with individuals, couples and families, however they often are comfortable addressing larger systemic issues you may face such as difficult work environments, managing long-term relationship problems or a history of addiction.
Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) - A mental health counselor can support you through most common mental health problems such as care for mood disorders like anxiety or depression, addiction, substance abuse, and relationship challenges. Most mental health counselors are able to treat individuals and couples.
Keep in mind that fees for psychiatrists will be the most expensive due to their high level of training and specialized skills. After all, they are medical doctors. But remember, of the most common mental health care providers, only psychiatrists are able to prescribe and manage medications. At Healthy Minds NYC, our psychiatrists provide both psychotherapy and medication management. And they work in collaboration with our other mental healthcare providers as a team so regardless of who you’re seeing for psychotherapy, you can have all your mental healthcare needs met in one place.
Common Types of Therapy
Regardless of their particular credential, all mental health care providers generally utilize the same types of therapy with specialization in certain areas. Here are some of the most common types of therapeutic modalities we see in New York City:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - a highly researched form of therapy that treats problems by addressing negative patterns of thought, behavior, and emotions.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) - a specialized form of therapy that helps individuals manage intense emotions, develop greater distress tolerance, and learn skills to communicate more effectively and reduce interpersonal conflict.
Psychodynamic Therapy - a form of talk therapy based on psychoanalysis that helps individuals uncover unconscious pain from the past to heal in the present.
Solution-Focused Therapy - a form of therapy designed to focus on quickly resolving current problems by finding available solutions now and exploring hopes for the future.
What to Ask a Prospective Therapist
Once you’ve selected a few potential therapists, it’s time to reach out for an introduction. You may find that email is the best way to reach some therapists since they are often in-session and unavailable to take calls. If you find it difficult to reach the therapists, try searching for another practice that offers a customer service or care coordinator team to receive calls during business hours. Much like Healthy Minds NYC, these group practices may be able to schedule you sooner instead of waiting to connect with a therapist around their client sessions.
In your initial communication here are some helpful questions to ask your prospective therapist:
Are you accepting new patients?
Do you work with clients who are struggling with my particular issue?
What is your particular license or training?
What is your treatment style? Do you use any particular method of therapy?
What are lengths and frequency of sessions?
Do you work with my health insurance for either in- or out-of-network benefits?
What are the rates I can expect to pay? What form of payment do you accept?
Do you have any cancellation policy I should be aware of?
What to Expect in Your First Session
Your first session is primarily for assessment. Your new therapist will want to learn more about why you are seeking treatment, what your goals for health are, and anything else you may find important. Your therapist will also be assessing their ability to adequately serve you based on their knowledge of their skills and your expressed needs. This is the time to ask for what you want and be open with any concerns you may have about the therapeutic process.
This first session is also your chance to assess your therapist. Ask any questions you have about their training, background, or ability to treat you. Pay special attention to how you feel in the session. Ask yourself, does this feel like someone I could talk to and be open with in the coming months?
You will likely complete some paperwork. Expect to sign some consent forms that usually provide your basic information to your therapist and inform you of your privacy and rights to confidentiality. You will also establish how to pay your therapist each session. Keep in mind that some therapists do not accept payment at the time of your session in order to maintain a focus on your treatment rather than administrative details. For example, at Healthy Minds NYC, our central office handles all payment electronically following your session, so your time with your therapist can be one hundred percent about your treatment.
You will collaborate with your therapist on a basic meeting rhythm. Psychotherapy is generally a weekly commitment and during your first intake session, if both you and your therapist would like to proceed with working together, you’ll establish your next session time and date.
Remember this is a relationship. Like all new relationships, it can take time to connect with your new therapist. Be patient if you don’t click right away in your first session. On average, we find clients hit their sweet spot in therapy after 3 sessions.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’re ready to get started with a therapist today, Healthy Minds NYC is accepting new clients. We are also happy to provide you with a free consultation with one of our care coordinators to help you on your search for mental health care. Contact our office at (929) 399-7120 today or Contact Us online.