Choosing a Therapist

A Guide for Finding a Therapist in San Diego

Below are helpful suggestions for using this directory to find the right therapist in San Diego.

Payment options:
Do you need to use your insurance or can you pay a little more (if you have PPO insurance) for an out-of-network provider or can you pay completely out-of-pocket if you have an HMO (and the therapist does not take your insurance)? Many therapists have a sliding scale. Just ask. See article on Insurance vs Self-Payment. Note: Many times the insurance question is last on your list when it needs to be first, especially if you only want to pay your copay. It is a good idea to call your insurance and find out what your outpatient mental health coverage is. Find out whether you have a deductible (some policies have very high deductibles that are unlikely to be met) and the copay amount for in network and out of network before you contact a therapist.

Distance from you:
How important is it for you to see someone within a few miles of home? Many times, it can be worth the drive to find someone who is a very good fit. So, I suggest you don’t limit yourself by zip code or area of town unless absolutely necessary.

“A picture tells a thousand words.” You can tell a lot about a person from his or her photo. I suggest you search all the listings and stop when you see a photo of a therapist you like. Then look to see if they meet your criteria. An exception is if you are looking for a therapist with expertise in a highly specialized area such as eating disorders or chronic pain. Then you would want to use the specialty search. Otherwise, many therapists treat depression, anxiety, relationship issues, etc.

You do want to make sure the therapist has expertise in your area of concern. Does the therapist list additional training or experience in that area? Ask questions about that when you contact the therapist. What does that therapist have to offer that another therapist does not? Please be aware that therapists on the website choose a certain number of specialties and may actually specialize in that area but do not list it as a primary specialty.

Theoretical Orientation/Approach:
The theoretical orientation or approach that the therapist uses will greatly affect your experience and the outcome of your therapy. You might want to do some research on the approaches that are effective for your particular issue. For example, you are going to have a very different experience going to someone for PTSD who uses EMDR vs a therapist who uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Ask questions so you get a good sense of what the therapy entails. Nowadays, there are many different approaches and you want to make sure it is a good fit for you.

Do you relate to what the therapist says? What do you like better – someone who appears to be an expert or someone who appears warm with a big heart? What appeals to each of us is very different. Trust your instincts. Hopefully, there is enough content to get a feel about who the therapist is and how they work.

Talk over the phone first:
You can get a better feel for the therapist by talking over the phone before scheduling a session. E-mail can be easier and more efficient, but you won’t get the same amount of information that you would by a conversation. I suggest that it can save you time and money to interview the therapist first over the phone. It is also a good idea to talk to more than one therapist before you make a decision.

In-person session:
When you meet the therapist, do you feel comfortable in the session? First and foremost, you want to feel safe and comfortable in the room with the therapist. In the first session, you want to get an even better idea about how the therapist will work with you. It usually takes about three sessions to determine whether it is helping. Give it a chance. I always recommend talking with the therapist first before you decide it is not working. Figuring out what you need and stating it is an important part of the process and can change the outcome.

This is YOUR therapy, so feel empowered to make it work for you and feel free to take the time to find the right therapist. I hope this information is helpful.

Good luck! Please feel free to contact us with any questions.