Is there a trick to finding a therapist that accepts EAP?
January 29, 2023 5:03 AM   Subscribe

I get EAP benefits (10 therapy sessions per year) and I'd really like to find a therapist who's willing to help me work on boundaries with friends/managing expectations at home. I'm male.

I do have some slight preferences in my therapist, mostly that they aren't too Woo and are under the age of 45. I live in Boston, but I'd probably prefer phone/zoom sessions.

All the profiles I can find are very old people, into Woo, don't take EAP, or don't respond to my email that reads: "hello! I'm interested in starting therapy with your to discuss relationship and friendship boundaries. Are you accepting new patients?"

Am I missing some key element to finding a therapist?
posted by bbqturtle to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
It's always been difficult to find a therapist anyway, but there's a nationwide shortage right now that's making it much worse.

I generally start with the list from the insurance provider and then crosscheck it with websites, etc. Can you get a list from your EAP?
posted by lapis at 5:15 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]

I would call your EAP and have them match you up.
posted by notjustthefish at 5:32 AM on January 29 [12 favorites]

The way it works with mine (Kepro) is you call, tell them the issue you're having and your preferences (gender, remote, etc.) and they give you three choices. If none of those work out, you call back and they give you three more. I doubt they will collude with you in age discrimination but it should be easy enough to make a guess from people's websites.
posted by HotToddy at 7:29 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]

Yes, if you're using your EAP benefit, you should call your EAP and they will match you. EAP services tend to be best for very short-term needs like working through one specific situation. I haven't found EAP therapy useful for more deep-dive, long-term needs; it was a lifesaver when I was in the middle of a very specific crisis.

If you want to work with someone long-term, I don't recommend using your EAP. The reason you're not getting any responses is because you're emailing. I hate this too but the only way to get a therapist is by calling on the phone. The way I found the therapist I worked with most recently—who was fabulous—was by going down the list from my insurance provider and calling every office on the list. One of the places I was actually able to get on the phone was an office that had around 10-12 therapists and the receptionist told me which of their providers had availability and to tell them who I wanted to work with.
posted by capricorn at 8:08 AM on January 29 [2 favorites]

It's possible that different EAPs have different policies. But in my experience, the EAP staff didn't care whether my needs were short-term or long-term. The policy was that I would receive three covered therapy sessions, and if I needed more than three, I had to pay for them myself (or try to get my health insurance company to pay for them).

Also, the staff at the EAP did the legwork in terms of finding a match. I gave them certain guidelines about the type of therapist I wanted to see. Then they (the EAP staff) did the research and got back to me within a week or so. They didn't give me several options to choose from -- I only got one referral. The first therapist wasn't a good fit for me. So I went back to the EAP, and they found someone else. The new therapist wasn't local, but it didn't really matter to me. Telethealth is fine.
posted by akk2014 at 8:46 AM on January 29

I agree that the first resource is calling your EAP itself for matching.

If that can't work for some reason, then depending on where you live precisely, Interface might be able to help you. They don't serve Boston itself, but they do work with a lot of the surrounding communities.
posted by solotoro at 8:56 AM on January 29

A note on the age question. I can see why you might want a therapist who’s in a similar demographic to you. However, if therapists are as thin on the ground as they were earlier in the pandemic, you may get matched with someone faster if you can relax this a little bit. On a personal note — the last time I tried this I wound up with a therapist who seemed to be about twenty years younger than me, when I was seeking help with a middle aged person problem. Part of me felt skeptical that this person was going to be able to help me — but she did. Good luck finding a good fit.
posted by eirias at 9:48 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]

I'm a therapist and I don't have any experience with working with EAPs or knowledge about the specifics there. It does seem like a good plan to start by contacting them.

In terms of your initial email, well, it's unfortunately normal at this point to not get a response. Many therapists are fully books and/or dealing with burnout. It might help to add a bit more information--such as that you are interested in using your EAP and what days/times would work for you.

Finally, I want to gently push back on the idea that your age preferences are discrimination. Therapy is a vulnerable and peculiar endeavor and it's vitally important that you trust and feel comfortable with your therapist. Many people have needs and preferences in a therapist that could be discriminatory in other contexts--for example, around the gender or racial identity of the therapist. From my perspective, there's a different ethical framework around seeking a therapist. It's not only okay but good to prioritize finding someone where you feel ease around opening up and sharing things that you might feel shame or fear about sharing or who you just feel gets the basics of your experience because of shared identities and contexts, including generationally!
posted by overglow at 9:56 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I'll try calling instead of emailing on the list. I get 10 sessions annually so if scheduling is anything like D&D, that should last a year.
posted by bbqturtle at 1:42 PM on January 29

Also something to consider that my therapist told me based on her experience as a LCSW: therapists with a social work background tend to approach counseling as something you do for a certain amount of time (x-week or x-months or x-years) to solve a problem. It can be hard to know how much time is needed initially but a good match can probably assess your needs and help a lot within your allowance. Her mindset is that, if things are improving within a few months or a year, it's not the best match and there's a better one out there. Her focus is trauma so it's a bit different but a lot of CBT practitioners share her approach, if simply due to limitations like EAP. Ten sessions sound good!

Finally, I totally get you on wanting to find someone who isn't too woo. I ended up with someone much older and that was cool; however, it was important for me to find someone who was very science/evidence-based and who understood that people with marginalized identities face additional challenges and stresses due to society. She got it! It took me a handful of tries to find a good match but eventually I found a great one. Since you don't have a lot of sessions covered, I recommend moving on if something feels off after one or two sessions. You don't need to see eye-to-eye on everything or immediately trust the person but you need to feel respected and trust that this person could possibly help you. That phrasing is a bit odd but hopefully it helps! Cold calls are fine; I found the best suggestion was a friend's recommendation.
posted by smorgasbord at 10:26 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If I call and get voicemail, should I leave a message or call back?
posted by bbqturtle at 3:54 AM on January 31

Leave a message. Most therapists only have the 5 minutes or so between clients to deal with the phone, write notes, go to the bathroom, etc. It's very hard to catch them. Leave a message.
posted by lapis at 7:41 AM on January 31

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