Find the Right Mental Health Therapy: Types, Finding a Therapist, and Affordability

Dr. Serenity
April 11, 2023

Therapy for Mental Health: Your Guide to Finding the Right Type, Therapist, and Affordable Care

Deciding to prioritize your mental health by starting therapy can be a major step. But with so many types of therapy and providers available, finding the right fit can be overwhelming. Plus, affordability can be a concern. In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the process and find the care you need.


Understanding Therapy for Mental Health: Types, Benefits, and More

Therapy is a type of mental health treatment that involves talking with a mental health provider. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed therapist, or counselor. The goal of therapy is to help individuals understand their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and moods, and how these factors may be causing distress or impacting their functioning.

According to Lynn Bufka, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate chief of practice transformation at the APA, therapy provides individuals with healthy coping skills and helps them respond to life’s challenges. Therapy typically takes place in a confidential, supportive space, where individuals can talk openly with a neutral, nonjudgmental mental health practitioner.

In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of therapy available, their benefits, and who can benefit from therapy. We’ll also discuss how to find the right therapist and how to afford therapy.


Different Types of Mental Health Therapy and Their Approaches

There are several evidence-based therapies and techniques that mental health practitioners use to help their patients. Therapists often use a combination of techniques as some are more effective than others in treating specific disorders and conditions. Here are some common research-backed approaches:

  • Supportive psychotherapy: This type of talk therapy aims to relieve emotional distress and symptoms by emphasizing reassurance, reeducation, advice, and encouragement of desirable behavior.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of talk therapy helps individuals become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so they can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a healthier way. Therapists may assign homework between sessions to practice new behaviors or ways of thinking.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: In this therapy, the therapist and client talk about negative patterns of behavior and feelings that are rooted in past experiences with the goal of resolving them. Through exploration of their past and present lives, the client will learn to analyze their unconscious emotions and motivations and how they shape their thoughts and actions.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): This therapy is similar to CBT but emphasizes managing uncomfortable or distressing thoughts and feelings. It has more of an emphasis on behavioral change, or working on skills to improve negative behavior patterns. It’s often used to help people with various mental illnesses, including borderline personality disorder as a primary diagnosis.
  • Exposure therapy: This subset of CBT is most frequently used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, PTSD, and phobias. During treatment, patients work with a therapist to identify their triggers and learn techniques to overcome their fears via gradual exposure to them in a controlled environment.
  • Mindfulness-based therapy (MBT): This therapy helps patients prioritize their present thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with the aim of being mindful, open, curious, accepting, and compassionate. It can be effective in helping people with depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, addiction, and psychosis.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR): This therapy is used to treat PTSD by replacing negative emotional reactions to difficult memories with less-charged reactions and beliefs. During this therapy, patients stimulate the brain with back-and-forth eye movements while recalling traumatic events.
  • Family or couples therapy: Family therapy is a type of counseling that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. It can include multiple family members, or just those who are willing to participate.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): This noninvasive procedure uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. It’s typically used when other depression treatments haven’t been effective.


Can Therapy Help? Examining the Evidence

Therapy has long been a tool in the mental health toolbox, but does it actually work? Research suggests that the answer is a resounding yes.

  • The Effectiveness of Therapy for Depression

Studies have consistently found that psychotherapy is an effective treatment for depression. In fact, a meta-analysis of 270 studies showed that therapy was often more effective than other types of treatments. Additionally, long-term psychodynamic therapy has been found to help patients with depression, social anxiety, and social phobias.

  • Therapy’s Impact on Other Mental Health Conditions

Therapy can be beneficial for a range of mental health conditions. Research shows that it can help people with anxiety, panic disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders. Furthermore, one review found that therapy has residual effects that foster inner strength and encourage patients to live “richer, freer, and more fulfilling lives.”

  • Therapy’s Role in Preventing Mental Health Conditions

For those who have experienced a major loss, therapy sessions have been found to reduce the likelihood of subsequent mental health conditions.

  • Combining Therapy and Medication

Some people with mental illnesses will need medication to treat their condition, but research suggests that going to therapy simultaneously leads to better outcomes. For example, therapy and medication have been found to be more effective for patients with depression than medication alone.

  • How Therapy Works

Therapy addresses ways of thinking, past traumas, and habits that patients want to change. It helps patients learn healthy coping strategies and feel empowered to take control of their lives. However, therapy requires active participation and work at learning new skills.

  • The Importance of the Therapist-Patient Relationship

The relationship between the therapist and patient is crucial to the effectiveness of therapy. Studies show that patients get the most out of therapy when there is a strong connection, relatability, and collaboration. Patients should feel comfortable discussing their long-term goals with their therapist and working together to tackle their problems.

In conclusion, therapy is a valuable tool in promoting mental and emotional health. Research shows that it can help with a range of mental health conditions and foster resilience in patients. The therapist-patient relationship is also key to the effectiveness of therapy, and patients should seek out providers who make them feel comfortable and understood.


When Should You Consider Therapy? Here’s What You Need to Know

Therapy can be a powerful tool to improve your emotional and mental health, but how do you know if it’s the right choice for you? Many people believe therapy is only for those with a diagnosed mental health disorder, but the truth is, anyone can benefit from therapy, regardless of whether or not they have a diagnosis. Here’s what you need to know about when and why to consider therapy.

Reasons to Consider Therapy

Therapy is commonly used to treat mental health disorders, such as anxiety and mood disorders, addiction, personality disorders, and schizophrenia. But therapy can also be helpful for those without a diagnosis who want to work on personal growth, communication skills, and improving relationships.

According to Lynn Linde, EdD, the chief knowledge officer at the American Counseling Association, therapy is for everyone, and counselors work with individuals of all emotional levels. Seeking therapy is not a sign of weakness, and there is no need to feel ashamed or stigmatized for wanting to improve your emotional wellbeing.

Apart from mental illness, other reasons to consider therapy include coping with chronic illness or death in the family, financial issues, job loss or stress in the workplace, relationship stress, daily stressors, recovering from abuse or traumatic events, and coping with sexual problems.

Benefits of Therapy

There are numerous benefits to seeking therapy, regardless of the reason for doing so. Some benefits include:

  • Feeling stronger and more resilient in the face of challenges
  • Changing negative behaviors that are holding you back
  • Examining the ways of thinking that affect how you feel and behave
  • Healing pain from the past
  • Building relationship skills
  • Figuring out your goals
  • Strengthening your self-confidence
  • Better handling strong emotions like fear, grief, or anger
  • Enhancing your problem-solving skills

When to Seek Therapy

It’s important to recognize when you need help managing your emotions and mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends seeking therapy if you experience any of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:

  • Feeling down, even if you are still able to keep up with work, school, or housework
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Appetite changes that result in unwanted weight changes
  • Inability to perform usual daily functions and responsibilities
  • Thoughts of death or self-harm
  • Social withdrawal and disengagement from family members

Final Thoughts

Therapy can be helpful for anyone who feels overwhelmed by life’s stressors and struggles to cope on their own. Seeking therapy is a positive step toward improving your emotional and mental wellbeing, and counselors can help you learn new coping strategies and life skills to help you live a more fulfilling life.


What Is Online Therapy and Does It Work?

Online therapy, also known as e-therapy or teletherapy, offers a virtual alternative to traditional in-person therapy. Through online therapy, patients can access mental health care using videoconferencing, phone conversations, online chats, texts, and voice messaging. There are also therapy-based apps that include mood and symptom tracking and exercises.

Accessibility is a significant benefit of online therapy, especially for those living in remote or rural areas or for individuals with busy schedules. Online therapy offers care on a computer, tablet, or smartphone wherever you have a steady internet connection.

Research shows that online therapy is an effective method of improving mental health and alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. According to a meta-analysis of 57 studies, virtual therapy is as effective as in-person therapy, specifically videoconferencing and phone therapy. Ashley Batastini, PhD, an assistant professor of counseling, educational psychology, and research at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, suggests that online therapy is a suitable alternative, especially when accessibility to therapy is difficult.

Real-time video and phone therapy are also found to be just as effective for depression and anxiety as in-person therapy, according to a 2019 study.

While apps that offer therapy through text message, chat rooms, email, or other formats may not be as effective as one-on-one traditional therapy, they can complement traditional therapy.

Overall, online therapy offers an effective way to access mental health care for those who may have difficulty accessing traditional therapy, and it can be a suitable alternative to in-person therapy. If you are interested in learning more about getting therapy online, there are many resources available.


How to Find the Right Therapist for You

Finding the right therapist can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to therapy or returning after a break. With so many different types of mental health providers, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But don’t worry, there are several ways to find a therapist who is the right fit for you.

Understanding the Different Types of Mental Health Providers

Before you begin your search, it’s important to understand the different types of mental health providers and their unique approaches to therapy. These may include:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Social Workers
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Licensed Professional Counselors

Each of these providers has different training and areas of expertise, so it’s important to research which type of provider will be best suited to your needs.

Ways to Find a Therapist

There are several ways to find a therapist who meets your needs, including:

  1. Getting a Referral from Your Doctor

Your primary care doctor can be a great starting point for finding a therapist. They can provide you with a referral to a mental health specialist, or recommend other resources that may be helpful.

  1. Using an Online Database

Several mental health organizations offer online databases of licensed therapists in your area. You can filter your search based on your location, the type of therapy you’re looking for, and other preferences such as the therapist’s gender or whether they offer in-person or telemedicine counseling. Some popular online databases include:

  • American Psychological Association Psychologist Locator
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Therapist Locator
  • Psychology Today Therapy Directory
  • National Association of Social Workers HelpPRO Therapist Finder
  1. Asking Your Insurance Company

If you have private health insurance, Medicaid, or coverage through your job, your insurance company may provide a list of mental health providers who accept your insurance plan. This can be a helpful way to narrow down your search.

Finding a Culturally Competent Therapist

If you’re looking for a therapist who has specific expertise or shared experiences, such as being from the same ethnic or cultural background, there are resources available to help you connect with providers who meet those criteria. For example:

  • Innopsych is a database that allows users to filter therapists by ethnicity.
  • The Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists Online Referral System or the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association can help you connect with a therapist who is LGBTQ+.

Remember, finding the right therapist may take time and effort, but it’s worth it to invest in your mental health and well-being.


How to Pay for Therapy: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to mental health care, finding the right therapist is an essential first step. However, for many people, the cost of therapy may be a significant barrier to accessing care. In this guide, we’ll explore the factors that can affect the cost of therapy and options for paying for it.

Factors That Can Affect the Cost of Therapy

According to Dr. Lynn Bufka, a licensed clinical psychologist and senior director of practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association (APA), there are no set rates for therapy. However, several factors can influence the cost of therapy. Here are some of the most significant factors to consider:

  • Location: Therapy fees can vary depending on the location of the therapist. In general, therapists practicing in cities or areas with higher living costs may charge more than those in smaller towns.
  • Experience: Therapists with extensive experience and specialized training may charge more than those who are starting their practice or have less experience.
  • Platform: The cost of therapy can also depend on the platform or service you use. Working with a therapist in private practice or affiliated with a medical center may come with a higher price point than using subscription virtual services like BetterHelp or Talkspace.

Paying for Therapy: Insurance Coverage

If you have health insurance, your first step should be to contact your insurance provider to see what mental health services are covered under your plan. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Does my plan cover mental health services?
  • Do I have a choice about what kind of mental health professionals I can see?
  • What kind of treatment does my plan cover or exclude?
  • Is there a deductible?
  • What is my copayment for a therapy session?
  • Is there a limit to the number of sessions?

It’s important to note that insurance coverage for mental health care can vary widely. Some plans may offer comprehensive coverage for mental health care, while others may have more limited coverage. It’s essential to understand what services are covered and how much you will be responsible for paying out of pocket.

Paying for Therapy: Out-of-Pocket Costs

If you don’t have insurance coverage or your insurance plan doesn’t cover mental health care, there are still options for paying for therapy. Here are some options to consider:

  • Sliding scale fees: Some therapists offer sliding scale fees based on your income or ability to pay. This means that the cost of therapy can be adjusted to fit your budget.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Many employers offer EAPs, which can provide short-term counseling services at no cost to you.
  • Nonprofit organizations: Some nonprofit organizations offer low-cost or free mental health services to people in need.
  • Community mental health clinics: Community mental health clinics may offer low-cost or free mental health services to people in need.

In conclusion, while the cost of therapy can be a significant barrier to accessing care, there are options available for paying for it. By understanding the factors that can affect the cost of therapy and exploring your options for payment, you can find a therapist that suits your needs and budget.


Starting Therapy: What You Need to Know Before Your First Session

Starting therapy can be daunting, but following these tips will help you make the most of your journey.

  • Treat it like a medical appointment

According to Bufka, treating therapy as seriously as any other healthcare is crucial. Even if you’re taking the online therapy route, make sure to dress appropriately and show up on time. It’s also a good idea to come prepared with notes on topics you may want to address during your session.

  • Do your homework

As your therapy sessions progress, your therapist may ask you to do some exercises between sessions. It could be anything from documenting your thoughts to keeping a journal or making a list of your triggers. It’s important to follow through on these exercises, as they will help you build on what you’ve learned during your sessions.

  • Be open and honest

Your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings with your therapist is key to the success of your therapy journey. It’s essential to be open and honest about what’s going on in your life, provide feedback on what’s working and what’s not, and be patient as you build rapport with your therapist.

  • Find a private space

If you’re doing online therapy, it’s crucial to have a private space where you can talk openly without fear of being overheard by family members, roommates, or friends. According to Crawford, holding back during your therapy sessions because of someone within earshot can hinder your progress.

  • Trust the process

Therapy can be emotionally exhausting, especially when you’re discussing sensitive topics. According to Linde, it’s common to feel worse before feeling better, but don’t worry, this is normal. It’s essential to trust the process and stick to your treatment plan, even if you don’t see immediate results.

In conclusion, by following these tips, you’ll be well prepared for your first therapy session, and you’ll be able to make the most of your journey.


Our Favorite Mental Health Resources

Looking for more information on mental health and therapy? These resources provide a wealth of knowledge and support to help you better understand your symptoms and find the help you need.

  • American Psychological Association (APA)

The APA is a professional organization that represents psychologists across the country. Its website offers tips on emotional health, depression, PTSD, and addiction. The APA also has a Psychologist Locator that can connect you with therapists in your area. It also lists several crisis hotlines and resources for confidential telephone counseling.

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI’s website includes a variety of resources such as articles on mental health, common mental health conditions, treatment options, and how to find help. Additionally, it has a help line that is available Monday through Friday until 10 p.m. that can provide advice on what to do in an emergency or how to navigate a mental health crisis. You can contact the help line through chat, phone, or email.

  • Mental Health America (MHA)

MHA is dedicated to promoting mental health and preventing mental illness through education, research, and advocacy work. Its website includes resources such as mental health screening tools, advice on treatment options, and how to make the most of your therapy sessions. Additionally, MHA is connected to over 200 community-based mental health organizations, including support groups for various mental illnesses.

  • American Counseling Association (ACA)

The ACA provides a list of mental health resources on its website, including a Therapy Directory maintained by Psychology Today. The directory can help you find a counselor based on your zip code and other characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, and religion. Whether you’re dealing with depression, grief and loss, or trauma, the ACA can help you find the support you need.

  • Innopsych

Innopsych is a database that helps users find BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color) therapists. Its mission is to make therapists of color more visible in the community and make it faster and easier for people of color to match with a therapist of color. You can also seek referrals from organizations such as the Association of Black Psychologists, the Black Mental Health Alliance, the Asian Mental Health Collective, or the Hispanic Access Foundation.

  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

The ADAA offers resources for those struggling with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, and BPD. It also has a library of educational resources such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and webinars to help people better understand their symptoms and treatment options.

  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

The DBSA provides symptom screening tools for depression and anxiety in adults and adolescents. It also has resources on treatment options, how to find a healthcare provider, and how to find local and online support groups. Additionally, if you have a loved one living with a mental illness, the DBSA has articles on how to help family members, caregivers, and friends going through a difficult time.

  • Mental Health Is Health

This initiative was launched by MTV Entertainment Group in partnership with the Trevor Project, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, and others. Its goal is to normalize conversations about mental health and help people learn more about feelings and experiences such as loneliness, hopelessness, and stress.

Remember, if you’re in crisis and need immediate support, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also text 741-741 to reach a trained counselor with Crisis Text Line. These resources can help you find the support you need to take care of your mental health.

Author Dr. Serenity

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