How to Find a Therapist

brown leather couch in sunlit room

I saw a therapist for the first time last October. I wasn’t experiencing a crisis or anything traumatic, but I wanted a safe, supportive space to check in with myself after a decade of rapid transition.

Up until then, I had wanted to see a therapist for years. And sure, the cost was intimidating, but what really helped me take the plunge was finding the right person for the job

Many therapists recommend not going to the same provider as your friends or family members, and you don’t need to tell me twice. However, not being able to rely on personal referrals made finding somebody I trusted that much more daunting. Plus… insurance. It’s complicated!

It was an Instagram ad (of all things!) that helped me. Today, I’m sharing a few of the resources I’ve found along the way. I hope it won’t take you years to find your way to the right therapist!

two women sit on a couch conversing while one takes notes

Try an Online Search or Database

If you have insurance, start there. Either call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask for more information on mental health benefits or go to your insurance provider’s website to look through its database of professionals

I did the latter and found it overwhelming, but there are other databases you can use.

You can also try:

And, here’s a list of resources specifically for people of color that you can try:

Try Alma or Headway

woman sits in chair using smart phone

Alma’s Instagram ad was the one I mentioned earlier - it helped me get back into therapy. Alma is an online directory, but unlike others, this one was super user friendly

I  simply input my insurance info and answered a few questions about what I was looking for (including questions about whether I wanted an in-person appointment or an online appointment).

Alma provided a list of licensed therapists who matched my preferences and I was able to choose one from inside the platform. Even better, Alma was able to tell me exactly what my insurance covered. The therapist I selected contacted me via email later that day and we were able to set up an appointment for an online session.

If you’d like an alternative to Alma, you could also try Headway.

What About TeleHealth?

person types on laptop while sitting on a couch

If you’re an introvert like I am, telehealth is a godsend. The good news is that there is some evidence that it’s as effective as in-person counseling. Right now, most therapists offer online therapy options, but you can also try Talkspace.

Talkspace is an app that helps match you to licensed therapists online. I’ve had friends rave about its flexibility and affordability (it’s much less expensive than traditional therapy).

Anything Else I Should Know?

One thing I did that gave me a strong start was reading about therapy first. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb is an engaging memoir that offers an insider’s perspective on being a therapist. It helped me understand how to think about therapy.

Try Softer by Aundi Kolber is similar. Also written by a therapist, it helped me understand more about how trauma shows up in everyone’s lives and gave me language to use when talking to my therapist.

Finally, here’s a guide to different kinds of therapy and here’s a handy list of questions to ask a potential therapist before your first appointment!

Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero
Sarah Guerrero is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She has a degree in international business from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and writes about sustainable business practices and ethical living.