How do I find a therapist?
September 21, 2019 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I need some kind of therapist/counselor/psychologist to deal with anxiety/worrying/catastrophizing, in Seattle.

I don't have any particular traumas I need to work through or anything. I just have a real tendency to worry and stress about, well, everything (this is probably learned behavior to a certain degree, my mom has always been a big worrier). In the last couple of years, I've noticed that I'm becoming more prone to worry, more easily anxious about things, and a new tendency to catastrophize. The past six months have been extra stressful for Reasons, which doesn't help. It's starting to affect my mental health, physical health, and relationships, and I need to do something.

So, two questions, I guess:

-What kind of professional am I looking for? I've never had any kind of therapy and I don't really know the different between a therapist, a counselor, a psychologist, etc. I feel like I hear a lot about CBT, and it seems like something that might be applicable for my case, but I don't know what to look for.

-How do I find this person? Google? Any recommendations? I don't know what, if anything, my insurance will cover, but I will look into that next week. I live in Kitsap County but work in downtown Seattle so my preference would be someone I can see during the weekday during basically a long lunch break. (Although as I said I've never done this before so I don't know if this is something where I'm not going to feel like going back to work afterwards.)

Also, I guess just any advice in this general arena would be great. Thanks!
posted by skycrashesdown to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Psychology Today website has a feature for finding mental health practitioners, so you can look for people who practice in or near downtown Seattle. You're going to want to screen for being in-network with your insurance coverage, probably. Then, unless there's a specific modality you have in mind (which doesn't seem to be the case) your best bet is to meet a few practitioners and see who you click with. Tell them what's bothering you, and if you feel comfortable articulating the outcome you're looking for, that's good too. Ask them how they work with people in your situation, and see if what they say feels OK to you. Then take it from there.

Good for you for taking care of yourself in this way. Hope you find someone great. :)
posted by Sublimity at 1:13 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm a clinical psychologist in Seattle. A psychologist is someone with a graduate degree in psychology. I basically define a therapist as "someone who does therapy" and don't think of it as having much distinction from "counselor." "Counselors" and "therapists" could have degrees in psychology, but also things like social work. Psychiatrists are MDs who mostly prescribe meds, in case you weren't aware of that additional distinction.

Personally, I usually recommend that if someone has a mental disorder (rather than just general life stress or things they want to talk through), including an anxiety disorder, they first try a treatment designed to treat that disorder (e.g., short-term CBT) before going to a longer-term talk therapist. CBT works really well for anxiety.

There are a lot of great CBT practitioners in Seattle, like the Evidence Based Treatment Center (which is downtown), Outpatient psychiatry at UW Medicine (which has psychologists on staff), and Seattle Psychology. I'm less directly familiar with The Seattle Clinic and Seattle Anxiety but their therapists look legit and have very solid bonafides.
posted by quiet coyote at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

- Do your work benefits include an EAP? If so, there'll be a list of professionals (narrows down the scope from ALL professionals in the area) and there should be a number of sessions available to you for no charge.

- Seconding Sublimity on the Psychology Today website (link). You don't have to sign up for anything - the searches are free. Along with filtering for location and insurance, you can also filter by areas of what they concentrate in.

Many therapists offer a free short phone consultation, and that'll give you a chance to explain what kind of help you're looking for, and ask them questions about what kind of therapy they do, and verify the insurance they take. Definitely say that your anxiety is affecting your life and relationships. If you have any specific concerns, you can also bring those up and see how the therapist responds. Such as "I'm looking for someone I can feel comfortable talking about [topics 1, 2, 3]. Do you have experience with that? Would you be on board with that?" For instance it was important to me to find someone who was on board with feminism.

- It wasn't mentioned in your post but since your health (mental and physical) is actively affected, seeing your PCP would be another step you can take (in addition to seeking out a therapist) and to do a check on whether there's anything that could be exacerbating the anxiety. You can also ask the PCP for names of therapists / psychologists / psychiatrists they recommend. Your insurance website also should have a way to search for therapists in your network/area, and their profile on your insurance site may offer some more info not on Psychology Today.

It's awesome that you're taking this step. Good luck!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 3:18 PM on September 21, 2019

To be honest, Psychology Today and insurance search engines are great if you don't know where to start looking, but it can be a bit of a crowded field and I find it's hard to separate people who do legit CBT from those who don't. When I'm helping people find therapists, I usually start with people I know are legit or the ABCT therapist finder, and cross check those people against insurance search engines. Then, I recommend people call the clinic to ask whether they're taking new patients and accept take their insurance, and if not, ask them to recommend another practice that does. I only look at Psychology Today and insurance search engines if I can't find people through those two methods. Please feel free to memail me; I have a lot of experience tracking down therapists for fellow mefites and people in the Seattle area specifically.
posted by quiet coyote at 3:35 PM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Seattle Women's Therapy Referral Service is a good place to start.

For a modest fee you can check out three different therapists, specially chosen for you and then decide if you want to work with one of them.
posted by brookeb at 4:00 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nthing Psychology Today's website. That's how I found mine. Since I knew I wanted someone with experience treating childhood trauma survivors, I was able to narrow the list down pretty quickly.
posted by kathrynm at 4:02 PM on September 21, 2019

I have to warn you that if Seattle is anything like the Bay Area, it can be very, very hard to find a therapist who is in-network with your insurance AND has an opening for a new client. If you are OK paying full fee and not using your insurance you can be much more selective but for many people the value of seeing a therapist for just their co-pay makes it worth the effort but your choices will be limited. (The problem is that insurance pays so much less than private clients that many therapists won't take it which means that the ones who will accept are usually deluged with far more people wanting help than they can take on.)
posted by metahawk at 8:55 PM on September 21, 2019

I just went through this process for the first time myself, in Seattle no less, and used the Psychology Today website as well. I looked for therapists in my zip code (well... one over, by mistake, but they're close) and insurance type. Bookmarked a dozen or so based on my basic response to their "pitch" — those are created very purposefully and if one calls to you or puts you off, that's important.

Look at their specialties too — I saw several whom I liked, but who seemed to specialize in trauma, gender identity issues, etc. Like you I didn't have any specific issue so I kind of filtered out a few who were more specific or used an approach that didn't sound good to me.

I came back to the list a couple days later and looked again, deleted a few, and then called/emailed the rest. Out of I think 6 that responded, 3 were booked up. The other 3 had openings within a week or two — I went to one session with a guy and it didn't quite seem like a match, then did another with a second and it seemed better. This was two months and 3 or 4 sessions ago. Don't be afraid to play the field a little! They openly encourage this and don't mind doing intro sessions at all (they still get paid).

Good luck!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2019

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