You’ve decided you’d like some psychotherapy. But, how to you find a psychologist in Washington DC? Consider taking these six steps:
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 a discrete task such as nail biting?
These are important questions to ask yourself because they will inform your search for someone who can be helpful to you. If you identify the sort of difficulties for which you want help, then, as you search for a psychologist you can make sure that they have expertise that you seek.
If you are uncertain as to why you are seeking psychotherapy, identify someone with expertise in assessment and with a broad-based, background.
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, then, you may want to seek out someone who provides short-term, psychotherapy. In contrast, if they have plagued you for years, consider seeking out someone who is trained to provide more intensive long-term, treatment such as someone who is both a clinical psychologist and a psychoanalyst. That is, you might consider psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.
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 for a list of in-network providers in your area. Many psychologists in Washington DC are not in-network. Therefore, calling around and asking whether they accept your insurance 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 co-payments? Are there any limitations on frequency of psychotherapy visits?
In addition, ask about your out-of-network coverage. With some insurers, out-of-network coverage is very good; for others it is limited. Still some do not offer it at all. When you choose to see someone out of network you pay your psychotherapist, directly. They can provide you with an itemized bill with diagnostic codes; you submit this to your insurance company.
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. Moreover, they offer greater privacy; when you seek care out of network, it’s up to you whether or not you tell your insurance company. Finally, if you wish to see someone with a specific set of skills, you have a greater range of choices.
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 (one) to that small breed of psychiatrists who both psychopharmacology and psychotherapy expertise.
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 at 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 professional experience rather then 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 program, which took place over a period several years, in their area of expertise.
In choosing your psychotherapist, you may want to ask about their post-graduate training.
Although many millennials prefer to communicate via text, this is one of the times where you might consider a phone call. In this way, you can get a preliminary feel for what your prospective psychotherapist is like and how they work. If it feels like it could be a good fit, you may want to set up an initial consultation.