Step 1: Review your insurance policy
Find out the types of mental health services that are covered, the cost for these services, and any steps you must take to have treatment covered. Your insurance may require a referral from a primary care physician in order for you to receive mental health services. Even if you have a copy of the plan, it’s always helpful to speak to someone and clarify any questions you might have. This way you can identify any possible points of confusion before you receive a bill. You should have a phone number on your insurance card or on the insurance company’s website that will tell you who to contact. They can also help you find a provider. The federal parity law requires insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment that is equal to (or better than) medical/surgical coverage. Click here to learn more about mental health parity.
Step 2: Search mental health providers/counselors in your area
You may need a provider that’s in your insurance company’s “network”. The best way to find in network providers is to go on your insurance company’s website and use the search tool they provide. If convenience is important to you, search in the area of your home, work, or where you spend the majority of your time. You can narrow providers by who will be most convenient to see. Once you’ve narrowed it down to 3 or so, we suggest visiting the website of each provider to see who is the best fit. Sometimes this process is trial and error and we suggest going with the provider that seems most appealing.
Step 3: Call to make an appointment
If you are able to speak directly to the counselor, ask questions about their experience, qualifications, and types of counseling methods they use. If you speak with a receptionist, request a call back from the counselor you wish to see so you can speak with them over the phone before making an appointment. You have a choice in who you see and if you don’t have a good feeling about the counselor over the phone, call other providers to see if you may feel more comfortable with them. Find times that work good for you and schedule an appointment if it feels like a good fit.
Step 4: Go to your appointment
Speak open and honestly about the challenges you’re having. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about things we’ve been guarded about for so long. Your counselor is there to help you through challenges and you’ll make the best use of your time if you’re open with him or her. Counseling visits can often times be emotional, and you should feel comfortable saying anything to your counselor. It’s your responsibility to speak up about the issues you’re having and express any concerns you have. It’s important that you feel supported and are not being told what to do. Counseling should feel like a collaborative process, and sometimes it takes more than one visit to know if it’s a good fit. If you feel good about the counselor, make another appointment.
Step 5: Be consistent and proactive
Counseling works best when we do it consistently. It may take several counseling sessions to feel like you are getting somewhere, but it’s all part of the process. Make sure you are meeting with a counselor that’s a good fit for you, and make it a priority. It’s your responsibility to communicate with your counselor so they know what your needs and preferences are. You have a voice! If it’s not working let it be known, they won’t know unless you tell them.
We wish you luck in your search for providers that are a good fit for you. Feel free to give us a ring at (208) 336-5533 if you have questions.