45% of adults say that the pandemic has affected their mental health.
The pandemic has created a paradox in our mental health care. At this time when we are in more need of support for anxiety and depression, the resources that provide it are harder to access in person.
Should I consider starting therapy now, especially if I can’t go in person?
You might not have previously felt the need for mental health services, but can now be struggling on how to deal with the increased anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation due to the pandemic. Searching for a health provider, especially a mental health one, can be daunting. Surprisingly, now is actually a good time to find low-threshold access to care.
You can avoid the trek from office to office, find lower copays, and expand your search for licensed clinicians beyond just your state. Therapy is more available than ever, and at potentially better prices.
What about cost – what if I don’t have insurance?
It’s crucial to understand how you will pay for therapy. Consider looking into Federally Qualified Health Centers – community-based centers that offer mental health and substance use services. They are required to prioritize individuals living within their areas of service, so be sure to look into those within your neighborhood.
Many health centers are authorized and encouraged to provide Telehealth services right now.
What about cost – what if I do have insurance?
With private health insurance, many providers are currently waiving copays for Telehealth visits. Some states like California and Arizona are ordering companies to cover Telehealth services.
Be sure to do a deep dive of your insurance benefits and policies. It’s important to understand how much your deductible is (if you have a high deductible plan), how to file claims if a therapist is out of network, and how much your plan covers for mental health services.
Many therapists offer a sliding scale fee for sessions, depending on your level of income. You can bring this up during the initial phone consultation if financials are an issue.
How do I go about finding a therapist I like?
If you have insurance, you can use your insurance member portal to find covered practitioners. If that doesn’t apply to you, you can use other reputable online sources such as Teladoc, Amwell, MDLIve, or Doctor on Demand.
Therapy Brands has a directory searchable by region and speciality, and Psychology Today has a directory for of therapists for price comparisons. Using a mix of multiple sources can help in your research on potential practitioners.
You can also use online therapist matching sources if you prefer receiving recommendations based on your form responses. Some resources are Advekit, My Wellbeing, and Inclusive Therapists.
What should I expect with virtual therapy?
Expect some awkwardness at first
No matter what channel, online therapy will be a different experience from an in-person session. Don’t be agitated if it doesn’t feel like you and your therapist are instantaneously in syync.
Practice speaking your emotions directly
If you’ve been to in-person therapy, you may be used to your practitioner being able to observe your body language and facial expressions to pick up on your emotions. Without bodily cues, it can be more effective for you to start flexing these self-awareness muscles out loud in a safe space.
Anything else I should know in preparation?
Ask about free phone consultations
Most therapists offer a free 15 minute phone call before a session. This is a great time not only for you to express why you’re seeking therapy, but also to understand their qualifications, therapy style, and costs.
Take time to find the right match
It may take sessions with different therapists to see what style of communication is most effective for you. Don’t be discouraged if the first person you meet with isn’t a match – it’s normal to see a few different people before finding a practitioner you connect with.
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