10 ways to get mental health help during the therapist shortage

Websites like Psychology Today, Therapy Den, and ZocDoc have directories you can use to find mental health professionals who specialize in specific topics, such as anxiety and depression. They also show you which therapists are taking out insurance and most importantly, which ones are taking on new clients.

Once you have your list, prepare for the first phone call or email—the preferred method of contact for many therapists—by providing detailed information about your needs and your hopes in therapy. That way they will know if they can help or if they should refer you to someone else.

“Doing a little prep work to figure out what you want to work on can go a long way toward finding a therapist who might be a better fit than just calling unannounced and saying, ‘Hey, I need a therapist,'” said Esther Benoit, a licensed professional counselor in Newport News, Virginia.

If you find a therapist who is a good match for you but can’t see you for a while, ask to be put on a waiting list and then request referrals for other therapists who specialize in the same mental health issues. Also keep in mind that group practices may be able to integrate you sooner than individual practitioners.

If all else fails, you may be able to ask your health insurance company for appointment help. “Tell them you can’t find providers and let them do the work for you,” said Jenna Wolfson, a licensed clinical social worker in Santa Cruz County, California.

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