Almost everyone has experienced some kind of disruption in their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, be it isolation, job loss, work or schooling from home, illness or death among family and friends.
These problems have led to a sharp increase in the demand for consulting services. While Washington State struggles to ensure its residents have adequate access to mental health care, there are ways for those seeking therapy and treatment.
Some people think, “My life is so confused. I don’t think there is anyone who can help me or where I can go, ”said Seattle-based counselor and psychologist Caroline Scott Brown. But “there are organizations that are really committed to helping people realize that change is possible and that help is available.”
While the search may sound daunting, therapists across the state have shared their tips for finding a provider that makes people feel comfortable and meets their needs.
“There are as many therapists as there are people,” said Allora Tvedt, a Seattle-based psychodynamic therapist.
Start your search for mental health care knowing who you are looking for. “Therapist” and “counselor” are used interchangeably, ”said Leslie Desai, a clinical social worker providing individual, family and family therapy in Seattle.
The abbreviations behind a mental health professional’s name usually indicate that they have earned a degree, completed their studies, passed a test, are ethical and licensed, and have a good reputation in the state of Washington. Some examples of acronyms are LICSW, which stands for Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, and LMFT, which stands for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Providers with the letter A in their names, such as LIACSW, are associated. “They are often incredibly knowledgeable and very good at what they do. They just haven’t completed the process yet, ”Desai said. Sometimes this means that their rates are lower. However, a temporary license may mean employees cannot accept insurance.
Life coaches usually work on the basis of personal experience and often do not have the same clinical training as licensed consultants or are accountable to a regulatory board.
Typically in Washington, DC, if you need a treatment plan that includes medication and therapy, you need to look for both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Psychologists treat emotional and mental needs and address patterns of behavior; psychiatrists are doctors who have the authority to prescribe drugs as a form of treatment.
Where to see
Your healthcare professional can provide directions and recommendations as a starting point. There are also several online databases: PsychologyToday.com contains a nationwide directory of therapists. You can sort by distance, insurance companies and gender among other categories. Other directories include TherapyDen.com, OpenPathCollective.org and GoodTherapy.org, and locally SeattleCounseling.org.
Some directories have listings of vendors that specialize in serving people of color and LGBTQ + people. These include MultiCulturalCounselors.org, AyanaTherapy.com, InnoPsych.com, GLMA.org, and IngersollGenderCenter.org.
Insurance companies must also maintain an updated list of the providers they serve and call clients who are having trouble finding consultants, said Geraline Peterson, a licensed mental health consultant in Puyallup. However, sometimes these lists are out of date.
In certain cases, insurance companies may also provide off-chain benefits, Desai said. Make sure you get a reference number to call in case you run into billing issues or your claim is denied.
Meetinghouses, friends, and family can also provide reliable guidance, Brown said.
For example: “If you know another person of color who has worked with a program, a social worker or a psychologist, and it made a big difference in their lives, it can be very helpful,” she said.
Low-income people and those on Medicaid can find mental health resources through community-based care systems such as Sound Health in King County, Compass Health in Snohomish, Skagit, Island, San Juan and Whatcom counties. Valley towns in Kent and Frontier. Behavioral Health in Spokane.
Holding out a hand
Once you have identified several therapists you want to contact, you can usually find their contact information and preferred method of contact in directories or on their websites.
“When sending an email, briefly state your reason for seeking therapy,” Peterson said. Include the date and time you will be available, your insurance company if you have one, and, in short, any information that is important to you.
For example, you might mention that you are dealing with stress and anxiety associated with life changes, including breaking up with a regular partner. You can also add that you smoke marijuana or cigarettes daily and do not want to quit, or that you have strong faith in a particular religion or belief, or that you have a military background.
Questions to ask
Most therapists offer free telephone consultations, lasting 15 to 30 minutes. Calls are an opportunity to ask questions, tell a little more about what you are looking for, find out what type of therapy a provider is using, and hear their voice – whether you find it calming or annoying, Desai says.
The most important question potential clients can ask doctors is what a typical session looks like. Some therapists use mindfulness and meditation; some assign homework and reading. Others practice their skills in the classroom; some focus on identifying injuries in the body.
Therapists also differ in the degree of direction and direction, Peterson said, with some leading the conversation while others sitting back, listening and validating the experience. Most can choose and combine practices depending on the needs of the individual client. As a patient, you may ask yourself if you want to give vent, if you are trying to understand yourself better, or if you are hoping for suggestions focused on solutions for change.
Another way to approach this question is to ask what methods – or trainings that affect his work – the therapist uses. The two most popular treatments are CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and dialectical behavioral therapy (dialectical behavioral therapy), Tvedt said. The forms of therapy are similar, but CBT focuses on using logic to achieve specific goals, while DBT focuses on managing emotions and how the patient interacts with himself and others.
During the consultation call, you will also want to know if the consultant has the opportunity to sign and how often he prefers to meet with clients. If you only have time once a month, the weekly frequency of classes may not work.
When you call, confirm if the provider accepts your coverage and if there is a copay amount. You can also inquire about telemedicine options and check with your insurance company if online therapy is covered.
If you are concerned about cost, you can also ask about sliding scale options. Many therapists set up sessions for clients who need to pay less than the standard rate. These definitions are at the discretion of the provider.
According to Peterson, every consultant should be able to ditch their own belief system and work with the client’s worldview. However, for people of color, believers, women, LGBTQ + and other marginalized groups, this call is an opportunity to make sure the therapist can understand and work with your life experiences and needs. An example question might include, “What cultural training did you receive?”
According to Desai, if you have trouble finding an affordable therapist, persistence is key.
“Keep calling, keep leaving messages, keep trying new people and new numbers,” Desai said.
Make a list of therapists you might want to work with and see them about every six weeks. Availability can change very quickly when a customer moves or takes a break, Peterson said. “I may not have vacancies, and then next week three of my clients decide they are ready, and suddenly I have three vacancies.”
It’s okay to tell the therapist that something isn’t working, or go ahead and try someone else, Peterson says.
“You can say, ‘You don’t give me ideas, and I really came here for some ideas,” Peterson said. “Or you can say, ‘You keep giving me ideas, and I just need to be given a way out.”