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How Do I Find A Therapist?

answered 10:11 AM EST, Wed November 16, 2011
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I am dealing with a lot of stress and turmoil right now. I separated from my wife a few months ago and we are in the process of getting a divorce. It is she who is initiating all of this. I am really having a hard time coping with the sudden loss of my family and it is affecting my abilities at work and I am worried that I am getting depressed. I think it would be helpful if I talked with a therapist, but I do not really know what kind of therapy I need or how I am supposed to pick one. Am I just supposed to open the phone book and pick at random…I don’t want to waste a lot of time or money making mistakes on this.

Nan Karl Says...

Nan Karl N. Karl

I am sorry to hear that you are going through a hard time, but congratulate you on making the healthy decision to get some help. There are a number of directions you might go in. First, if you work in a decent sized company, call your Human Resources Director and ask about an EAP. An Employee Assistance Program is a service that most mid to large size companies offer. Your company contracts with an outside company to provide counseling sessions for all kinds of life crises and situations. Service is provided free of charge and usually the EAP will give up to six sessions of therapy. Services are confidential and you need not tell your employer why you are seeking services.

Next, you might contact your primary care physician and see if he/she has recommendations. If your primary doctor feels that you need antidepressant medication, you can get started on that. Sometimes physicians also have recommendations for therapists that they have come to know and trust.

If you don't want to use either of these routes, there are several online services that can be of help in locating a therapist for you. The National Association of Social Workers has a service to identify social workers in your area. If you go to www.helpstartshere.org you will see the home page. At the upper right hand corner, you will see a small header that says, "Find a social worker". Click on that and you will be linked to social workers in your area that describe their expertise, years of experience, etc.

One of the most popular online sites for therapists can be found at www.psychologytoday.com which allows you to enter your zip code and a list of therapists and their photos and areas of expertise will pop up for you. Some of the therapists offer a free initial consultation and this will be noted in their profiles.

Another online site to help you locate a therapist can be found at www.goodtherapy.org and will allow you to enter a zip code for a directory of therapists in your area.

Almost everyone I know that is in private practice (myself included) participates in the Psychology Today site. There, you will find licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and psychologists. 

As always, if you are having any thoughts of suicide or wanting to hurt someone else, you are going to need a higher level of care than outpatient therapy and you should call 911 or your local hotline. If you don't know the number for the local hotline, the national suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Again, I commend you on the decision to seek help. This is a difficult time for you and you should not have to bear the brunt of it without some help.

Good luck!

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Page last updated Nov 16, 2011

Nan Karl - MSW, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker/Therapist
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