It was the summer of ‘16. I was sitting beneath a tree in Palm Springs at a bachelorette party. Everyone else was in the pool. I think there was a clubby dance song blaring in the background; I didn’t really notice. What did grab my attention was that while everyone was mildly enjoying their pina colada in the water, I was staring off into the heat waves feeling absolutely nothing.
The next week I found myself in search of a shrink who could talk out the whirlwind that had been the last 6 months. From going freelance to comical romantic choices, I’d become devoid of self-care. That state of mind, in combination with no clue where to start, wasn’t the easy route to finding my advice liaison. This is why I feel called to share my process, in the hopes that even a few of you in the midst of tough times feel a bit less alone in your search for solace.
So find yourself a recliner. Pour yourself a glass of wine and reflect on foibles of yesteryear. It’s time to find you a therapist!
Let’s Talk Cash, And Insurance, And Other Things That Make You Sweat
Health insurance is one hell of an institution, but I won’t bore you with the politics. Let’s just say it definitely comes into play here. You first have to think how valuable your sanity is to you, as well as how much of your money you’re willing to hand over for some advice and direction. Both insurance-covered and private therapy is great! And if you have insurance, it’s definitely worth exploring options that leave you with some cash for other self-care activities (such as re-watching all 24 seasons of Seinfeld while buffing your calloused feet). I’ve personally had both, and once I felt I had “graduated” my current therapist (It is a thing!) I wanted to explore someone with more of a life coach attitude that could help me foster my creative work. Yet without Elizabeth – my almost totally insurance-covered, maternal second therapist, working with me through my childhood and young twenties break-ups – I wouldn’t have been ready for someone more action-oriented, which brings me to my next point…
You’re Worth At Least 4-Stars, So Use Google
Thankfully, insurance companies like to list who they get busy with, so start scrolling. Long list? Start using Google for good! Doctors get reviewed online all the time now. Read up and explore. (FYI, I once avoided a nightmare gynecologist when I was exploring birth control options, thanks to Internet angels who left some long-winded stories regarding her lack of bedside manner). Opt instead for someone with a few friendly reviews. Are they close enough to your home or office to make it a habit you can keep? Then give them a call and ask about a consultation session. It’s like a first date, only instead of pretending you’re not nervous and you’re not allowed to talk about your ex, you will in fact be praised for being vulnerable enough to cry. I promise you, it’s amazing. Cathartic, even.
As With Most Things, Do Not Settle
And just like a first date, sometimes it can take a turn for the worst. I love to tell the tale of Larry, my first attempt at therapy after moving to LA. Larry was listed as taking my insurance with a low co-pay available here in the United States. Larry had some good reviews. Larry was close to this juice place I frequented. Checks across the board. What I found after my first three sessions with him was a lack of feeling heard. More so, it felt like my issues we’re not real enough to take seriously. Ageism, sexism, etc. can’t be tolerated in a space where you’re breaking down your inner dialogue, so move on and hit the drawing board to the next one that catches your eye. No therapist I’ve had has ever been the same as the last, so your next consultation will likely land.
Hit Up Your (Most Stable) Friends
When you’re a bit more free flow on what kind of therapist (private or covered) you are willing to see, your friends are actually amazing resources, especially the ones that seem to have some of their shit together. You might not want to see their exact therapist, but their therapist definitely hangs out with like-minded people who practice and has a digital Rolodex of contacts to pass along. You can also see if your friend’s therapist is part of a collective where multiple therapists work together. If so, it’s 2018 and they probably have a website (Lord help them if they do not). Review the other partners and reach out to one that seems like a fit.
“I Don’t Think I Need This”, And Other Lies I Don’t Want To Hear
Before I go, I’d like you to join me in a little game of good cop, bad cop: The Therapy Edition. If stigmas or a lack of feeling “crazy enough” to need a therapist are still keeping you from getting it together, I have to be real with you. We all carry baggage. It’s a fact. And if you feel unsettled with where you are right now, talking to an unbiased expert that can help you untangle a mess of thoughts is one the most effective ways to go about finding that inner peace you’re striving for. I also promise it won’t kill you, even if you get a Larry. Good luck!
Words, Megan Laber.