Find a psychologist in Washington DC

July 15, 2019
find a psychologist in washington dc

You’ve decided you’d like some psychotherapy. But, how to you find a psychologist in Washington DC. Here are 6 steps that you might take.

1. Ask yourself, for what am I seeking psychotherapy?

Are you seeking help for anxiety, depression or relationship difficulties? Is your work-life or career, dissatisfying? Or, are you feeling lost or stuck? Are your difficulties global? That is, do you feel a more generalized malaise? Or, are they focal? For example, would you like help with fear of flying? These are important questions to ask yourself because they will inform your search for someone who can be helpful to you. If you clarify, in your own mind, the sort of difficulties for which you want help, then, as you search for a psychologist you can make sure that they have expertise in these areas.

If you are uncertain as to why you are seeking psychotherapy, fear not, just make sure you find someone with expertise in assessment and with a broad-based, background.

2. Are my difficulties new or are they longstanding and pervasive?

Newer concerns such as trouble with your boss after decades of successful work history, or a recent loss of a dear friend or family member, may yield to short-term psychotherapy. In contrast, longer-term, challenges such as recurrent troubles establishing and maintaining healthy love relationships, difficulties identifying and pursuing work-life goals, fear of abandonment or difficulty with self-assertion may require a more intensive, thoroughgoing approach.

If your difficulties are new and have just recently arisen, you may want to seek out someone who provides short-term, psychotherapy. If your difficulties have plagued you for many years, consider seeking out someone who is trained to provide more intensive long-term, such as a clinical psychologist,  psychoanalyst.

3. What are my financial resources?

For some, their financial reality dictates that they must use their health insurance. If this is the case for you, prior to calling psychologists, or psychotherapists, contact your insurance company. Ask them for a list of in network providers in your area. Many psychologists in Washington DC are not in-network providers. Therefore, calling around and asking whether they are in-network can be a time-consuming, frustrating process. Instead, go straight to the horse’s mouth: your insurance company. Ask them for a list of in-network providers.

Also, ask: What does my in-network psychotherapy coverage pay? What are my copayments? Are there any limitations on frequency of psychotherapy visits?

What does my out-of-network coverage for psychotherapy pay? When you go out-of-network, you pay your psychotherapist, directly. Then, you receive an itemized bill with diagnostic codes which you can submit to your insurance company.

4. Not every psychologist in Washington DC is in network.

If you can afford it, and/or if you have good coverage, seeing someone out-of-network provides you with more options. Here, in Washington DC, many good psychotherapists are not in network. Psychotherapists who are out-of-network have more flexibility with regard to how they approach treatment and they offer greater privacy. When you seek care out of network, it’s up to you whether or not you tell your insurance company. Similarly, your family members do not have to know. Finally, if you wish to see someone with a specific set of skills, you have a greater range of choices.

5. Does it matter whether I see a psychologist? Or, should I consider a psychiatrist, a social worker or a counselor?

Good psychotherapists come in all shapes and sizes. Personally,  in making referrals I pay the most attention to the psychotherapist’s postgraduate training and whether or not it is a match for the individual’s unique needs.

Sometimes, the discipline of the psychotherapist is relevant. For example, often, though not always, I refer those suffering from Bipolar I to psychiatrists who are also trained in the art of psychotherapy.

However, there are many exceptions to that rule. Sometimes social workers and psychologists in Washington DC have previously worked at Chestnut Lodge or the Retreat at Sheppard Pratt or similar places; those psychotherapists are, typically, expert in that condition as well.

Mostly, in making referrals, I’m more interested in expertise acquired through postgraduate training and experience than in the psychotherapist’s graduate degree. For example, in dealing with phobia or weight loss, I’d be more likely to refer to someone with expertise in CBT whereas in dealing with longstanding difficulties, I’d be more likely to refer someone for psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, with a psychoanalyst. If they are a psychotherapist, I might refer them to a Training and Supervising Analyst, just in case they decide to pursue psychoanalytic training, themselves, at some point.

As for post-graduate training, I am not talking about meeting continuing education requirements; this is required of all licensed psychotherapists. Rather, I want to know if they have completed a rigorous post-graduate training, taking place over several years, in their area of expertise.

In choosing your psychotherapist, you may want to ask about this.

6. Is it a good fit?

Although many millennial prefer to communicate via text, this is probably the one of the times where you might consider a phone call. In this way, you can get a preliminary feel for who they are and how they work. If you feel that you might be comfortable with them, and that they have the expertise that you want, you may want to set up an initial consultation.

More information

Sometimes people ask me about what happens when they call me. Also, they want to know about me.

If you feel that I can be helpful, feel free to give me a call: 301.656.9650

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