Finding the “right” therapist to help you achieve your therapy goals can be tough. You deserve a therapist who fits your needs, someone competent with whom you feel comfortable.
If you’re reading this blog, you likely have an interest in St. Louis DBT, LLC. We’re glad you are here and hope you will take time to read our blogs and study our website. After you’ve gotten to know us a bit, we offer a free telephone consultation. We encourage you to make the most of it. The information below will help you use your time wisely.
Our therapists all use evidence-based approaches. This means what we do in therapy is based on extensive research showing the approach achieves its goals with most individuals. Among our five individual therapists, you will find therapists well-trained and experienced in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In combination or alone, these approaches are effective at treating depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, personality disorders (like borderline personality disorder), dissociative disorders and addictions. These approaches can be used effectively with individuals, couples, families and groups. We focus our practice on ages 12 years and up.
Our therapists are caring, thoughtful clinicians. In addition to therapy sessions, our therapists offer coaching calls between sessions. To speed your healing, we offer group skills classes where you will learn lifelong skills that not only help you heal faster but also maintain the gains you make in individual therapy after your therapy ends. In the end, however, you are the only one who can decide whether you feel comfortable with whichever therapist you choose.
Preparing For Your Phone Consultation
Before you call, it’s important to know what you want to work on generally. You might say — I’m miserable, depressed or anxious. I am having trouble getting along with family, friends or co-workers. I feel bad about myself. I have addictions. My life isn’t worth living. Ask yourself — how do these affect my ability to work or go to school, attend to the mundane activities of daily living or get along with family, friends or co-workers?
Think about what has changed that makes you ready to start therapy now. Maybe something happened that triggered your symptoms to worsen. Perhaps you hit rock bottom and you are ready to do whatever it takes to feel better. Maybe someone inspired you to gather up the courage to call. You may be plagued with suicidal thoughts or your addictions have gotten out of control. Whatever it is, it takes courage to take the first step toward healing.
Our therapists are change-oriented. This means we listen to your problems and help you change your behaviors, thoughts and emotions. We believe that the only person you can change is yourself. Whether or not you caused your problems, you are the only one who can solve them. While we may do supportive therapy when needed, it’s not the primary focus of our practice. Supportive therapy is where the therapist listens in order to help you address the immediate situation but doesn’t systematically address the underlying behaviors, thoughts and emotions.
Finally, write a list of questions you want to ask before you call. You may want to think about the following as you write your questions.
- What will you charge me?
- I have health insurance. How do out-of-network benefits work?
- When is the therapist available?
- How much does location matter to me?
- How would I like to change my life?
- How important is it that my therapist has similar values/spiritual beliefs/sexual orientation/life experience to mine?
- Is there a specific approach to therapy that I want or that interests me?
- Am I unsure of what I want or even if I want therapy? It’s okay to not know what you want or have mixed feelings about therapy.
A Note About Charges
Before you call, you’ll want to know what we charge and what types of payment we accept. Each of our therapists charges different fees. Fees range from $40 to $120 per 50 minute session, depending on the therapist’s experience and your ability to pay. Groups cost $40 per 90 minute session. Accepted payment includes credit or debit card and cash. We do not take checks and we do not file insurance. However, we will provide you with the paperwork needed to file for out-of-network benefits. This link includes some questions you should ask your insurance company about filing for out-of-network benefits.
Your first reaction when you hear we don’t file insurance claims may be to look elsewhere. Before you do, we encourage you to take some other factors into consideration. First, there may not be a substantial difference in cost depending on your policy. Some health insurance companies set a flat fee for out-of-network co-pays so seeing an “in network” provider may require a $30 co-pay while an out-of-network provider will cost $40 per visit. Some companies have very high co-pays even for in-network providers. If your co-pay is $60 per visit for in-network and a St. Louis DBT therapist charges you $60, the cost is the same with or without insurance.
Second there are factors other than cost to consider. You may have strong recommendations from your PCP, friends or family to work with one of our therapists. You may want a therapist who has specialized training, practices more than one approach or who shares your values, spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation or life experience. Your health insurance company may only cover a small number of visits per year. Privacy may be a concern. We do not submit diagnoses to the national health insurance database for self-pay clients.
Your First Call
When you call, whoever answers the telephone will talk to you about our fees and out-of-network benefits. If you are satisfied with the financial factors, she will match you with a therapist who can meet your needs based on information you provide. At this point, you don’t want to share your whole history but just enough information so we can make a good recommendation. Feel free to ask about the unique strengths of therapists who interest you most. At this point, you are not committing to a particular therapist.
When you are satisfied with a recommendation, your name and contact information will be given to the therapist who will call you to schedule a mutually convenient time for your free consultation.
During The Telephone Consultation
Ask your questions and then listen carefully, not only to what the therapist says but how they say it.
- Is the therapist empathetic?
- Does she show interest in me as a unique person?
- Does she listen well?
- Most importantly, does she sound like someone I can feel comfortable with?If everything sounds promising, then schedule your first appointment.
If For Some Reason You Choose To Go Elsewhere
Back to square one. If you’ve ever looked for a therapist, you know that it’s not always easy to find one who can help you achieve your therapy goals and with whom you are comfortable.
Figure Out Who to Call First. Ask for recommendations from trusted health care providers, family and friends. Just because someone you know likes a therapist doesn’t mean you will too so ask what they like about their therapist, how a typical session goes and other details. Call the number on the back of your insurance card to verify that these therapists are in-network providers.
Research their recommendations. Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” is the most frequently used listing of therapists but there are others. Whatever listing you use, read the therapist’s profile carefully. Study their website, not just what they say but how they say it. Ask yourself if this sounds like someone you could work with. Check out who they serve, what approaches to therapy they use and how they describe themselves. Look at what and how they charge. Do they file insurance or help you file out-of-network benefits? Do they offer a sliding scale fee if you don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay?
If you don’t have recommendations, the sheer number of therapists listed can be intimidating at first. Your first task is to narrow your options. Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” has a detailed search engine. Experiment with different searches. Then read their profiles carefully. If you click on “compare,” you can look at more than one therapist side-by-side. If you have a general sense of what you want, you’ll be able to eliminate many therapists from your list relatively quickly. When you have narrowed your list to two or three, start calling.
As you go through this process, remember you are the consumer. It’s your choice who you choose. Don’t settle for less than you deserve!
Sandra Miller, MSW, LCSW and sometimes blogger, is one of five therapists who see clients at St. Louis DBT, LLC. Learn more about St. Louis DBT.