How to Find the Best Therapist in NYC For You

New York Behavioral Health Team
New York Behavioral Health Team

Interested in therapy but not sure how to start the process? You’re not alone! Deciding to go to therapy is hard enough, but knowing where to begin can feel even harder.

Ultimately, many people find therapy is a rewarding and beneficial experience. Research shows that 75% of people who seek therapy see positive results (Shedler, 2010). The key is finding the right therapist for you. A therapeutic relationship is a personal relationship that functions best when a client and clinician are compatible (Patterson et al., 2018).  This occurs when the client’s needs are being met, their problems addressed, and goals achieved. A therapist who is non-judgmental while actively engaged – a clinician who challenges you to move outside your comfort zone can achieve this.

On your journey to finding the “one,” there are some critical elements to take into account. Let’s explore what these are and how to best go about your search.

Where to Turn First for Finding The Best Therapist in NYC For You

Your Insurance Provider

You can investigate your healthcare benefits by calling the insurance provider or visiting their website. Find out what mental health services are covered and if there is a provider in your area. Many insurance companies have a list of in-network providers covered under their plan.

If you are interested in a specific therapist who does not accept insurance, find out if your insurance accepts out-of-network claims. It is important to know the number of sessions covered if a referral is required, and co-pay and/or reimbursement amounts. Make an educated decision when selecting a clinician. Use your insurance company as a resource.

Educational Institutes & Clinical Interns

No insurance? Learning institutes and clinical interns are an excellent alternative. These resources may offer therapy services free of charge or on a sliding scale. This includes places such as The Ackerman Institute, whose policy states that no person is turned away for an inability to pay. Graduate interns at private practices may also be a relatively affordable treatment option and are carefully supervised by a team of senior therapists and academic advisors.

Explore Therapist Directories and Search Engines

Reputable mental health websites such as Psychology Today and ZocDoc enable you to search for therapists according to specialization, insurance provider, location, ratings, and other factors. This makes it easy to find a therapist near you, within your budget, and who caters to your specific mental health needs.

These and other platforms have clinicians’ profiles with pictures and information about them and their practice. Read reviews on google and medical websites to gain further insight into a therapists’ style, bedside manner, and to read clients’ personal experiences.

Many clinicians have websites, outlining their experience, training, specializations, and other pertinent information. Some may list publications, press appearances, and links to blogs and articles. These resources provide a clear picture of the clinician. This allows you to get to know them better as people and to gather more information on whether they are a good match for you.

Word of Mouth

Mental health is a hot topic in mainstream society and therapy has become more widely accepted. Consequently, people are going to therapy more than ever before (Chamberlin, 2004). It is highly likely someone you know has been to therapy or is currently in therapy. Talk to friends, family, or a trusted healthcare provider. Ask for recommendations. A therapist in NYC with a good reputation is worth exploring.

Have questions or want to schedule an appointment?

Find an NYC Therapist Who Specializes in Your Needs

Select a therapist who specializes and is experienced in the specific area(s) your specific problem areas.  When researching, you can ask yourself, “Is this therapist knowledgeable, and do they work with my subject of concern?” Be vigilant, ensuring that the therapist is well-versed in the mental health area that pertains to you.

Below are some common disorders afflicting New Yorkers and methods of treatment:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    This disorder is defined by extreme and chronic thoughts of worry specifically regarding a variety of events, not specific stimuli, or issues. It encompasses symptoms including fatigue, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, and insomnia. This disorder is typically treated with CBT, augmented with medications (benzodiazepines and antidepressants) (Leahy et al., 2012).
  • Depression
    Approximately 8% of adult New Yorkers experience symptoms of depression each year (The City of New York Office of the Mayor, 2021). Depression is characterized by fatigue, insomnia/excessive sleeping, loss of interest in everyday activities, loss of concentration, and feelings of sadness. Treatments vary depending on the severity and cause of the depression.

    Depression is addressed with medications, as well as therapies such as CBT, interpersonal and developmental interventions, and other treatments. Research indicates that CBT is highly effective for treating depression and produces long-term results 37 psychotherapy studies concerned specifically with outcomes in the treatment of depression, which had an overall effect size of 0.73 (Shelder, 2010). 
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    Social Anxiety is a “social phobia” of being publicly embarrassed, rejected, or judged. Persons who suffer from this disorder actively avoid public spaces, large crowds, and unfamiliar social settings.  One of the most effective psychosocial treatments for social anxiety disorder is cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) and medication (Rodebaugh et al., 2004). This includes exposure treatments, applied relaxation, social skills training, and cognitive restructuring (Leahy et al., 2012).
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    OCD is characterized by repetitive thoughts and rituals that function to alleviate anxiety. It involves acts such as counting, touching, washing hands, and organizing. Symptoms also include difficulty concentrating, sitting still, being disorganized, overly active, impulsive, overly talkative, and more. remaining organized, by an irrational fear of contamination or the consequences of not performing the ritual (Leahy et al., 2012). The behavior is motivated by obsessive thoughts and/or the consequences of not performing the ritual (Leahy et al., 2012).

    According to the International OCD Foundation, Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to alleviate the obsessions or decrease his or her distress. Treatment includes CBT and medications such Luvox, Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, and Celexa. 

Types of Therapy in NYC

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a one-on-one therapeutic experience. In this forum, the client’s issues and goals are the focal points. Immersing oneself in individual therapy can facilitate tremendous interpersonal growth. It allows the client to examine and address what is most important to them -and to prioritize their happiness and well-being.

Family Therapy

As the name suggests, family therapy attends to matters afflicting the family system and its members. While participants primarily consist of immediate and extended family, the role and influence of pets, friends, and larger social systems are considered integral to the structure of the family unit. This therapy examines each member, identifying fundamental relationship dynamics. It offers a therapeutic analysis that deciphers and defines the sources of tensions and conflicts to bring solace and resolution.

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy includes both married, unmarried, and engaged couples. This therapy is useful for couples struggling with relationship issues, conflicts with in-laws, and to strengthen and improve their relationship. It is also a great resource for couples getting into or out of a committed relationship. Engaged couples may benefit from pre-marital counseling to guide them through the transitional period from engagement to marriage. Conversely, for couples looking for an amicable break-up or divorce, therapeutic intervention can provide a healthy and structured forum to ease the pains of separation.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is an affordable and supportive therapeutic structure that brings together individuals suffering from similar mental health issues or shared life struggles. This method is used as a primary or supplementary form of therapy. It is composed of people looking for support. In this therapeutic setting, you are one of many, your problems are a shared experience, and you aren’t alone. Group therapy caters to those with similar experiences, disorders, and mental health problems but can also be psycho-educational or focused on skill-building. It covers everything from support groups and counseling groups for addiction, grieving, stress, anxiety, and training courses for coping mechanisms like CBT and DBT.

Have questions or want to schedule an appointment?

Extra Things to Consider in Your Search for a Therapist in NYC

Experience

Experience is invaluable. Select the most experienced therapist you can afford. Do your research. Read through the therapist’s bios, take note of their years of experience and special training. Peruse, their blog, books, articles, and other written works. This will give a sense of their experience, insight, and how they address specific mental health issues.

Education and Training

What degree and training does the therapist have? Do some research. There are numerous mental health degrees and licenses out there. Make sure you choose one that is in line with your specific goals. A therapist’s knowledge and area of study are correlated to their degree/ training. 

Financing

Therapy should serve as a source of relief, not stress. If your treatment is draining your bank account, you can’t focus on healing. Consider your resources. The right therapist is one for a price you can afford. Your mental health is a priority and there is a great therapist at a rate you can afford.

Personal Preferences

When selecting a therapist, be honest with yourself. Who are you comfortable speaking with? Consider factors such as a therapist’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and age. Some people prefer a therapist whose background is like their own. A person who identifies as LGBTQ+ may find it easier to share and address problems with a therapist within the LGBTQ+ community. A younger client may find they are more open to a newer therapist, while someone older may be more comfortable with someone more seasoned.  It is an individual preference that should be considered when selecting the right therapist for you.  

Culture and religion. 

Every culture has concepts regarding mental health, social norms and mores, behaviors, and practices. It is helpful when a therapist is knowledgeable of many cultures and their practices. This may be of particular importance if you come from a background with very specific cultural ideologies and beliefs. This can include traditions and practices both religious and cultural. You want to select a therapist who is in sync with the goals and values that are meaningful to you and understands how to incorporate that in therapy.

Therapeutic Style & Personality

Ideally, a therapist is not only experienced and trained but also has a style and personality that speaks to you. For therapy to be effective it is essential to have a therapeutic connection that facilitates effective communication and understanding. A therapist should offer a judgment-free space for open and honest conversation. The bottom line, you must be comfortable with your therapist.

Your NYC Therapy Consultation

Scheduling a consultation is an opportunity for you and the therapist to connect and learn more about each other. This is your chance to ask questions and to ascertain more about the therapist and the type of therapeutic practices they use. NYBH offers free 15-minute phone consultations. Take advantage of this time. Write questions out in advance. Think about what your goals are, what type of therapy you are interested in, and what you want to accomplish in therapy.  Additionally, inquire about the therapists’ techniques and how they establish goals.

Here are a few helpful questions to ask a therapist or care coordinator:

  • Do you specialize in the mental health area or specific issues I am struggling with?
    As discussed above, it is important to select a person who specializes in the area(s) that pertain to you and your struggle. A therapist who is knowledgeable in your specific issues will employ methods designed to address them.
  • How long have you been in practice?
    This will allow you to verify the practitioner’s experience. A seasoned therapist has had more practice and has a deeper understanding of how to address specific problems.
  • What methods of therapy do you use?
    There are many different therapeutic methodologies. It is good to understand which ones your therapist plans to use. Some are more effective at treating certain issues than others. Additionally, you want a methodology that is going to work for you. If you aren’t willing to participate in using their methods, then therapy with them will likely not help you.
  • What are your thoughts on my specific issue and how would you address it?
    This question is a sneak peek into what you can expect in working with this therapist. It is essential that the therapist fully understands your issues or goals and how to address them. 

What to Do After Your First Session with Your NYC Therapist

After your first session, I encourage you to take a moment to pause and reflect. Think about your exchange with the therapist.

  • How do you feel after that first session?
  • Did the therapist provide a comfortable and safe space for clients to express themselves freely without judgment?
  • Was the therapist empathetic?
  • Did they genuinely listen?
  • It’s important for you to feel like you can share openly, feel safe, and be heard throughout the experience.

Think about the therapist’s style.

  • Were they active or passive in their approach?
  • Is this in line with what you are looking for? Certain therapists offer more structure and guidance. Other therapists prefer a client to lead the conversation.
  • Did the session appeal to you?
  • Did you find the conversation structure or lack thereof beneficial?

Therapy is a conversation and the client’s participation is essential. Select a therapist with a communication style that is effective for you.


Your Next Steps in Finding Your Best Therapist in NYC

Therapy is meant to be helpful. The therapists’ practices: their methodology, style, and techniques should create an environment that facilitates growth and resolution. In the first session, the therapists outline their terms, explain the confidentiality agreement (to protect your privacy and describe potential limitations if safety concerns arise), and provide insight into their treatments.

A first session can be nerve-racking and you may feel hesitant to share, but the right therapist will put you at ease. Go with your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, if the therapist and you didn’t connect then they may not be the “one for you.”

Let’s help you take the first step in support of your mental health and your happiness. Want to make a change? Learn more, schedule a free consultation today – reach out to us or schedule an appointment.


References

Chamberlin, J. (2004). Survey says: More Americans are seeking mental health treatment. American Psychological Association, 37(7), 17. 

International OCD Foundation, (2021). What is OCD? www.IOCDF.org

Leahy, R.L, Holland, S.J., and McGinn, L.K. (2012). Treatment Plans and Interventions for

 Depression and Anxiety Disorders. The Guildford Press.

Patterson, J., Williams, W., Edwards, E.M., Chamow, L.,  & Grauf-Grounds, C. (2018).

 Essential skills in family therapy: From the first interview to termination (3rd ed.). 

 The Guildford Press.

The City of New York Office of the Mayor. (2021). Report: Understanding New York City’s Mental Health Challenge. City of New York. https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/home/downloads/pdf/press-releases/2015/thriveNYC_white_paper.pdf

 Rodebaugh, T.L.,.Holaway, R.M., and Heimberg, R.G. (November 2004). The treatment of

social anxiety disorder. Clinical Psychology Review. Volume 24, Issue 7, (pp. 883-908).

Shedler, J. (2010). The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. American Psychological 

 Association (APA), 65 (2), 98–109. DOI: 10.1037/a0018378

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