This year, I finally started going to therapy and it has been really life changing. I know that navigating mental health care can be really confusing and scary, so I want to be an open book when it comes to this stuff and hopefully help some of you with your own mental health journeys.
I asked you all on Instagram what questions you had about therapy…so let’s get into it!
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored 🙂
1. What made you decide it was time to invest in therapy?
I had been wanting to try therapy for a long time. In fact, I think I waited way too long. I wish I had gone sooner, like when I was suffering from undiagnosed PTSD after a really bad bike accident that disabled me for three months, or depression and anxiety in college.
The factors that spurred me to finally invest in therapy were a) I was able to afford it and I had employer-provided insurance that could help ease the cost, b) many of my friends had started going to therapy and had positive experiences, and c) I was going through some major life events as well as seasonal depression and I thought, you know, I’m tired of dealing with this alone.
2. How did you find and choose a therapist?
It was actually pretty simple for me. I went on Psychology Today and searched for therapists in my area. I knew that I wanted a female Asian therapist because I wanted someone who could understand specific issues related to my identity. I filtered by therapists who took my insurance and found the one female Asian therapist in Seattle that was taking new clients at the time (so my search was made much easier by scarcity, lol).
First, I browsed the therapist’s website and read about the philosophy she applies to her practice, which included the specific and unique traumas based on intersections of race and gender. That sounded perfect for me, so I went ahead and reached out via the contact form on her website.
Usually, the therapist will set up a ten-minute phone call after you reach out on their website to see if it seems like there’s a good fit. They’ll probably ask what issues you want to address in therapy and you can ask any questions you have. After our initial call, I had my intake session where the therapist asked questions about my mental health history.
3. How did you decide if your therapist was a good fit?
I was pretty lucky in that I ended up liking the first therapist I went to. I have friends who have seen multiple therapists to find one they liked.
The qualities that were most important to me were that a) I felt comfortable around her, and b) she never said or did anything that made me feel judged. I like my therapist because she has a very empathetic listening style and rarely, if ever, interjects, which allows me to talk through all of my feelings and arrive at my own conclusions. She never imposes advice or tools on me unless it’s clear that I am unable to come up with tools on my own.
4. How do you pay for therapy? How did you navigate insurance?
I am privileged in that my employer-provided insurance covers therapy sessions (I only pay $40 per session) and that I was able to find a therapist in my network that I liked.
If you have health insurance, you can check online or by calling if they have mental health benefits. You can also check with your insurance if they reimburse claims for out-of-network providers, which many insurance plans do. This tends to be more expensive than in-network providers and you have more manual work of submitting claims.
Then, there are therapists who operate on a sliding scale, or a pay-what-you-can model, often with a minimum cost that’s still more expensive that insurance copay but cheaper than paying full cost. I’ve seen sliding scale sessions start from $65-$75 per session.
Finally, you could pay the full cost for a therapist without insurance, which is often over $100.
Unfortunately, most therapists do not take insurance, so if you cannot find a provider in your network that you like, searching for a sliding scale therapist or clinic may be the next best option.
5. How do you tell your full truth (not censor yourself) to your therapist?
This is a great question! I still struggle with this, because when there is something really painful to talk about it’s natural to avoid it. But the more I have seen my therapist, the more comfortable I feel talking to her about painful issues since she’s proven to be very empathetic and nonjudgemental. Also, I usually feel way better after getting these things off my chest. I’m a very private person, so there are some subjects I don’t talk about to anyone…and when I finally open up to my therapist about it, it’s actually very freeing.
You should respect your own boundaries and not expect that you will be comfortable sharing all your deepest traumas right away. As with any relationship, it takes time to build that level of trust.
But at the same time, I think that if you don’t feel safe opening up completely to your therapist, even after going to that provider for a long time, that could be an indication that they are not the right therapist for you.
6. How do you push yourself to go to therapy when you’re mentally or emotionally exhausted?
For me, it falls in line with everything else I do for self care, like exercising and eating vegetables. I might not want to do it, but I know I should and I know I feel so much better when I do. But as someone who knows what it’s like to have the kind of depression where getting out of the house is really, really difficult, you might be able to ask your therapist about remote sessions or try a remote therapy service.
My boyfriend is also starting a company called neb that offers location-flexible, in-person therapy, and also streamlines the process of finding a therapist and booking an appointment. It just launched and is only serving the SF Bay Area for now, but they will be expanding within the next few months. I’m personally really excited for the potential of this platform to increase access to mental healthcare. You can sign up for updates here.
If you have any more questions about going to therapy, please feel free to ask! I truly believe that we need to talk about mental health more openly in order to fight stigma and let people know that they aren’t alone.