December 6, 2023 Dec 06, 2023 8 min read
The following guide is designed to help you search for a trauma-informed therapist. Finding a therapist can feel like a daunting task, but this guide will help you refine your search and break down the process into easy-to-manage steps.
To learn how to find a trauma therapist, keep reading.
For most people, insurance coverage will determine which mental health providers are available to them. In some places, insurance may be provided by your government, or you may receive health insurance through your employer.
Before beginning your search for a therapist, check your insurance plan to find out if mental health care is covered. If so, find out if your insurance plan provides a search tool through which you can find in-network providers.
If you do not have insurance and don’t live in a country that provides socialized healthcare, you will need to pay for therapy out of pocket. While this widens the pool of providers you can choose from, it can also create a financial barrier for some people.
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If you’re paying for therapy out of pocket, you’ll need to decide ahead of time how much you can afford to pay per session, per month, or per year. Most therapists charge between $100 and $300 per session, but these prices vary by provider. Some therapists also offer sliding-scale options for clients with limited budgets.
In some places, survivors can access free counseling services through local advocacy organizations or social service centres. Find out if there is a domestic violence or sexual assault resource organization near you, and contact them to ask about free or low-cost counselling services.
It’s very common that crisis centres, advocacy organizations, and shelters offer free counselling services and mental health support groups to victims and survivors of sexual assault or gender-based violence. To locate a resource organization near you, use the Go Thrive Go search tool.
Finally, if you are a student, you can likely receive free counselling services through your school.
Most therapists are trained in a variety of different therapeutic modalities. So, in addition to seeking out someone who’s trauma informed, you’ll also want to consider their other areas of expertise. Depending on your goals and preferences, some of these modalities will make more sense for you than others.
Some common therapy types include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of therapy understood and practiced by most mental health care providers.
For help deciding what kind of therapist you need, check out our article “What to Look for in a Trauma Therapist.”
These days, many therapists offer both online and in-person sessions. However, some therapists only offer one or the other. Before starting your search, decide whether you want your therapy sessions to be online, in person, or a combination of the two. This will help you refine your search.
The benefit of being open to online therapy is that it broadens your pool of potential therapists to include anyone who is licensed to practice in your state or province. If you want to meet with a therapist in person, you’ll need to limit your search to those within driving or public transport distance.
One of the most common ways to search for a therapist is by using the database provided by your insurance company. Most insurance companies provide a way for customers to search for in-network providers online. If not, you may be able to call your insurance company to request provider information over the phone.
Regardless of your insurance coverage, you can use the popular “Find a Therapist” search tool provided by Psychology Today online. This tool allows users to refine their search based on location, therapy types, expertise areas, communities served, and more. If you live in Canada, you can find the Psychology Today search tool here. For those living in the US, click here.
As you begin searching for therapists, you’ll probably find quite a few that meet your basic requirements. Start making a list of the therapists who stand out to you, including their names, phone numbers, email addresses, and web addresses. Once you have a list you’re satisfied with, begin reaching out to them individually via phone or email.
Instead of setting your sights on just one therapist, contact several of the therapists you’re interested in meeting with.
An important part of searching for a trauma therapist (especially if this is your first time pursuing therapy) is to consider multiple options. It’s sometimes tempting to go with the first provider you find who seems to tick all the right boxes – but the reality is that people often try several different therapists before landing on the one who’s right for them.
To make the process easier for yourself from the start, reach out to multiple providers who all seem to meet your basic parameters. As you interact with each of them via email or over the phone, you can compare their personalities and approaches and get a sense for who feels like the best fit.
Before agreeing to pay for a session with a new therapist, it’s best to conduct “interviews” to give yourself time to decide which therapist is right for you. Most therapists offer initial consultation calls or meetings that can help you both decide whether the relationship is a good fit.
During these initial meetings, ask the therapist questions to help you determine whether they can provide you with the care you need. To help you in this process, we’ve put together an article titled “Tools for Survivors: Essential Questions to Ask a New Therapist.”
After consulting with a few different therapists, you’ll need to choose just one provider to pursue. Seeing multiple therapists simultaneously is typically not recommended, unless your therapists are working together to provide care to you.
Once you’ve decided who to see, let them know that you would like to book your first appointment. You and your therapist will decide together how often you will see them and for how long.
While choosing just one therapist can feel intimidating, remember that making an initial choice does not mean that you have to keep seeing that therapist forever (or even for more than one session).
Think of the first few sessions as a trial period. If during that time you feel a trustworthy and constructive dynamic forming, then chances are you’ve found a good fit. However, if the dynamic isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to move on to someone else.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s natural for things to feel a bit awkward or uncomfortable at first. Try out a few sessions with your new therapist before deciding to move on. Of course, if you get a red flag from the very beginning, you’re never obligated to stick around if it doesn’t feel right.
Having to switch therapists a few times is frustrating and exhausting – but it’s also extremely common. In fact, most people who begin therapy don’t find their “perfect” therapist on the first try.
While it can certainly feel discouraging to open up to someone new only to realize that the relationship isn’t working out, try not to lose heart in your search. If you keep looking, you will eventually find a provider that meets your needs.