“Maybe you should talk to someone” isn’t just the title of a favorite HQ read. It’s also advice you may have heard to cope with mental health struggles.
So should I talk to someone?
It depends. We’re certainly living in a time of unique stress. According to a CDC study, during the COVID-19 pandemic, young adults and Black and Latino people of all ages in the US have reported elevated levels of anxiety and depression. An important first step towards finding a therapist is to identify why you’re looking. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, you should consider seeing a clinical psychologist, counselor, or social worker who specializes in that area and uses a type of treatment that’s been proven effective for coping (more on types of therapies later). If you’re suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or a major depressive disorder, it’s best to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist who has experience with that disorder and can prescribe medicine. And remember: not everyone who benefits from therapy is necessarily diagnosed with a mental illness.
How do I find the right fit?
Ask around. Talk to friends and family about their therapists and see if they have someone to recommend. Or get your primary care physician to weigh in — they may be able to rec someone who takes your health insurance. Another option: go straight to the source and check with your insurance provider. Note that you might need to date around — finding a therapist match is all about personal preference. Resources like Frame and BetterHelp can also help you swipe right. Teletherapy (we Skimm'd it for you) during the pandemic has opened up more options for people, as you can easily chat with your therapist from your couch.
What are the different types of therapy?
There are lots. Many therapists are trained in multiple types of practices and integrate them or don’t specify one approach, instead adapting their treatment methods depending on the client’s needs. Here are some common types and what they’re known for:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)...The one that focuses on your thoughts. CBT is all about understanding and evaluating your current thought patterns. In this type of therapy, you’ll work on replacing negative thought patterns with more positive, helpful ones.
Psychodynamic therapy…The one that looks back at it. Psychodynamic therapy has its roots in Sigmund Freud’s theories and involves digging into the past to shed light on the present. This type of therapy asks you to examine your actions and motivations. It’s usually longer term than CBT and other types of therapy, typically lasting for years.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)...The one that’s about letting go. This therapy stems from CBT and focuses a lot on your thoughts, too. It emphasizes the need to stop struggling with your inner feelings and instead accept them.
Schema therapy…The one that’s all about patterns. It’s a newer type of therapy that helps people identify behavioral or cognitive patterns that may contribute to mental health issues. “Schemas” are patterns that people can develop in childhood if their emotional needs aren’t met. This one is particularly helpful for people with borderline personality disorder.
Emotion-focused therapy (EFT)...The one that focuses on — you guessed it — your emotions. This type of therapy can be useful for relationship issues.
Speaking of relationships...What about therapy that involves other people?
The room where it happens can sometimes be a party of three. Or fifteen. Some types of therapy with other people in the room are...
Group therapy...The one with the support system. One or more psychologists lead a group of around five to fifteen people, often focused on a specific issue like social anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.
Family therapy…The one with people you’re related to. Family therapy seeks to improve communication and resolve conflicts between family members. It may involve just a few or all members of a family.
Couples therapy...The one that’s pretty self-explanatory. Important to note that your insurance provider may not cover this one or may require that you or your partner receive a mental health disorder diagnosis.
Are the other types covered by insurance?
Fingers crossed. If you have insurance, start by asking your provider. The law requires most insurance plans — including employer-sponsored plans and coverage purchased under the Affordable Care Act — to treat mental health like physical health coverage. That means an insurance company can’t charge a $50 copay to visit a psychologist if it only charges a $20 copay to visit a surgeon.
My therapist won’t accept my insurance, even though I have mental health coverage. Why not?
First off, you’re not alone. Some mental health professionals choose not to accept insurance. If that’s the case, check to see if your plan accepts out-of-network providers. If it does, you’ll have to complete an insurance claim form and submit it along with the invoice for your treatment to get reimbursed.
Can I pay for this with my HSA or FSA?
It depends. Reminder: health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are accounts specifically for your medical expenses. You can contribute pre-tax dollars to them to save and pay for things like deductibles, copays, prescriptions...and sometimes therapy. You know the drill: before you talk to a therapist, talk to your insurance provider. We Skimm'd insurance terms and more here.
Mental health affects your overall health in a major way. Seeking or asking for help isn’t weakness — it takes strength to work towards a better head space.
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