If you’ve come to this post, you’ve probably googled, “find a psychologist in Washington, DC”. Or, perhaps you were searching for me. If you’d like to explore whether I can be of help to you, feel free to call. Learn more about me, here.
Of course, you may have wended your way to this post because you are seeking guidance as to how to find a good psychologist in DC. If that is the case, here are some thoughts:
1. Ask yourself, why am I seeking psychotherapy?
Answering this question will allow you to find a therapist who is a good match for your goals and needs. Therapists are trained in an array of theoretical approaches. Therefore, it’s important to find someone who has expertise that is geared toward your specific concerns.
For this reason, it’s helpful to give some thought to what has brought you down this path. That is, what are the difficulties that you would like to overcome? What are your goals?
People come to therapy for many reasons, including, more abiding difficulties, such as:
- overcoming longstanding anxiety or depression
- work-life or career, dissatisfaction
- recurrent relationship issues
- A wish for a deeper emotional connection to others
- A wish for an intimate relationship
- Trouble finding and establishing relationships with reliable others
- the impostor syndrome (even though this isn’t, actually, a “real” diagnosis, many people suffer from it)
- fear of success
- anxieties about intimacy
- fear of abandonment
- repetition of painful patterns
- writer’s block
- self-esteem difficulties
- difficult childhood experiences that hamper their capacities to feel secure
- painful separations
- and other longstanding concerns
Others are seeking psychotherapy for more discrete or specific difficulties, such as:
- help with a specific task such as developing coping skills to manage a difficult job
- weight loss
Some are seeking specialized skills, for example:
- treatment for substance abuse
- couples counseling
Identifying your concerns and goals will help you to seek out a psychologist with the background, training and experience that fits your needs.
2. Are my difficulties new or are they longstanding and pervasive?
As mentioned, above, some therapists are more equipped to deal with short-term difficulties while others have extensive training in long-term work. Concerns such as trouble with your boss after decades of a 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, chronic self-doubt, workaholism, difficulty with self-assertion and many of those outlined above may require a more intensive, thoroughgoing approach.
If your concerns are new, then, you may want to seek out a psychotherapist who provides short-term, psychotherapy or counseling services. In contrast, if your difficulties have plagued you for years, consider seeking a therapist who is trained to provide more intensive long-term, treatment. If this is the case then you may want to consider someone who is both a clinical psychologist and a psychoanalyst. These clinicians are well-prepared to treat patients, or clients, with psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis.
3. What are my financial resources?
For some, their financial reality dictates that they must either use their health insurance. If you plan to seek care in-network, prior to calling psychologists, or psychotherapists, contact your insurance company. Ask for a list of providers in your area who accept your insurance.
Many psychologists in Washington DC are out-of-network. Therefore, calling around and asking whether they are in your network can be a time-consuming, frustrating process. Instead, call the company and obtain a list.
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 companies do not cover any service with external clinicians.
When you choose to see someone out of network you pay your psychotherapist, directly. Your therapist can provide you with an itemized bill with diagnostic codes; you submit this to your 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 the District of Columbia many good therapists 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 you decide to share your health care information. Finally, if you wish to see someone with a specific skill set, you have a greater range of choices.
5. If you can’t afford private fees, are there any other options besides staying within your network?
Yes. In Washington DC there are a number of clinics which serve people who can not afford private fees. Many universities have psychology clinics in which their graduate students are trained. These settings offer therapy on a sliding scale. For example, George Washington University’s Psychology Program has a psychodynamic therapy clinic. Similarly, the Meyer Treatment center provides psychodynamic therapy in Washington, DC.
6. Does it matter whether I see a psychologist? Or, should I consider a psychiatrist, a social worker or a professional counselor?
Post-graduate training is more important than their graduate degree
Good psychotherapists come in all shapes and sizes. Personally, although my degree is in clinical psychology, I make referrals based on the psychotherapist’s postgraduate training, years of experience and expertise. Most importantly, I consider whether their skills, training and temperament are a match for the individual’s unique needs.
Sometimes, the graduate training of the therapist is relevant. However, more often, their postgraduate training is more important. An exception to this rule relates to those suffering from serious mental health issues with a biological overlay.
For example, often though not always I refer those suffering with serious mental health issues, such as, Bipolar I (one) to that small breed of psychiatrists who have expertise with medicine and psychotherapy. However, there are many exceptions to that rule. Many other kinds of mental health clinicians have expertise with these patients by virtue of their postgraduate training and their experience.
Sometimes social workers and psychologists in Washington DC have previously worked at renown psychiatric hospitals such as, Chestnut Lodge (now, shuttered), the Retreat at Sheppard Pratt, or at similar places. Often, those psychotherapists have proficiency in caring for patients with serious mental illness.
7. Consider a clinician with extensive experience with your particular psychological difficulties as opposed to their academic credentials
For example, in addressing weight loss, I might refer to a cognitive behavior therapist whereas in dealing with longstanding difficulties, I’d be more likely to refer someone for psychodynamic psychotherapy or for psychoanalysis to a psychoanalyst.
Beyond this, if you are a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or counselor, consider seeking treatment with a Training and Supervising Analyst. I recommend this because IF at some point you decide to seek psychoanalytic training, yourself, you will be required to see a Training and Supervising Analyst. Therefore, if you are already in treatment with a Training and Supervising Analyst then you will not have to switch therapists.
8. Is it a good fit?
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 sense of how your prospective therapist works. If it feels like it could be a good fit, you may want to set up an initial consultation.
What happens when you call for psychotherapy?
Sometimes people ask me about what happens when they call for psychotherapy. Also, they want to know about me. Finally, due to the Omicron variant, I am providing online therapy; I am hoping to return to the office as soon as it feels safe to do so. If I can be helpful, feel free to give me a call: 301.656.9650