Another beautiful morning in Seattle. The birds are chirping. The sky continues its transformation. Still, you know it’s there. You have a small burst of energy, and decide that today is the day you will start looking after you. Your mental health has been ignored for far too long. It’s not the red-headed step-child. It deserves attention dammit, and attention it will get! Though, admittedly, you may pause a moment to wonder what the world has against red-headed step children, or red heads in general. You resist the urge to go down that rabbit hole. The memes will have to wait. You’re on a mission!
You pop your laptop. Open your browser. The google gods are ready to give you the answers for which you seek. You type “finding a therapist is Seattle.” Hit enter. You see pages upon pages of results. Websites for individual therapists or behavioural health centers. Online directories promising that they have the right therapist in Seattle for you listed on their platform. Sites ranking the top therapists, most popular therapists, and even most affordable therapists.
Overwhelm starts to rear its head. Too many options. Where to start? In a previous article, I outlined techniques to make this search more bearable for you. For details, you can check the article out here. If you don’t have time, here’s a quick recap. 1. Take a moment to understand what you need help with. 2. Get the logistics down (budget, insurance, location, in-person vs telehealth, schedule). 3. Decide which search avenue works best for you (online directories, behavioral health centers or online matching services). Now that we have the basics down, let’s focus on finding therapists in Seattle, specifically.
One thing that is immediately obvious is just how many therapists there are in Seattle. A lot. Like thousands. Odds are you’ll find at least one that can help you. That’s the good news. Finding and sifting through them all can be a challenge. Many have a full practice and are not accepting new clients. Some may not accept your insurance. Some may not specialize in your types of concerns. Some may seem like the perfect fit; you’ll reach out to them. Leave several messages, and for whatever reason, they never call you back. It’s no wonder many people give up on their search.
So how can you bypass at least some of these frustrations?
- Start with making a list of the resources available to you, geared towards your specific needs. Most therapists or behavioural health centers will have a website or a profile on an online directory. Most online directories will allow you to filter, based on location, insurance, issues addressed. Use those filters. It will save you so much time! Read through each profile or website, and choose only those where you resonate with what the therapist has posted.
Something to keep in mind, when reaching out to therapists on that list. Many providers in Seattle, especially those panelled with multiple insurances and those located in the downtown area, tend to be in high demand, As such, they may have long waitlists or may not even be accepting new clients altogether. It’s also not uncommon to not hear back from therapists with a full practice. While frustrating, it’s not personal. Often they receive so many messages, it becomes difficult for them to reply to each. That being said, if you don’t hear back within a day or two, move on to the next on your list.
2. Consider non-profit organizations. Many people overlook or simply don’t know that there are non-profit organizations available that can provide behavioral healthcare to those in need. They can be especially helpful for those with lower income or with Medicaid insurance. Standard therapy fees can be too costly for some. Therapists in the private sector tend to only have a limited number of sliding scale slots (which are often filled up) and few accept medicaid.
Finding these organizations may present another challenge. Fear not. There is a solution; 211. 211 is free confidential community service, and their job is to literally find you the non profit organizations available to help you. Just dial 2–1–1, tell them what you need, and let them do the searching for you.
For those of you using Medicaid, there are several community organizations throughout Seattle that accept your insurance and can provide you with behavioural health services. Typically, they have walk-in clinics, where you’ll be seen by professional healthcare provider. After a thorough discussion about your concerns, you will be assigned a therapist that can best help you with your needs, and whom you can usually start seeing within 2–3 days. Dial 2–1–1 to find those closest to you. Insider tip- Call the center to for walk-in hours (each has its own), and be there as early as possible . They tend fill up pretty quickly, and it’s first come, first serve. Be sure to bring your provider one card and your id.
3, Be open and flexible. You’d be amazed at how often rigidity (aka fear) stops people from getting the help they are so desperately looking for. Of course, in an ideal scenario, you’d get exactly the perfect therapist, at the perfect price in the perfect location with the perfect availability. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and we have to work with what is actually available to us. This usually means adjusting our expectations and adapting. Is it fair? Probably not. Is it necessary if you want to start feeling better? Yes. It is.
Where to be flexible or where not to be flexible depends entirely on your situation. As a general rule, a therapist’s ability to address your concerns should remain a priority. How low their fees are or where they are located won’t mean much if they can’t help you. Ultimately it will just cost you the time and money you were hoping to save.
Areas you may want to consider adjusting are; budget, location, and whether therapy is online vs in-person. With budget, I’m not suggesting you choose therapy over paying your bills. At all. What I’m saying is don’t let fees be an automatic deterrent. For instance, if your budget is $120 per session, and you find a great therapist, but the fees are $160 per session, instead of automatically disregarding her, see if there’s a way to work around that. Perhaps you can negotiate a lower rate. Perhaps instead of seeing her weekly, you can see her every other week, or 3x per month. There’s always a solution; it just may require some creativity.
Closely following budget constraints are insurance constraints. Unfortunately not all therapists accept all insurances. There are some insurances in Seattle that therapists are more commonly panelled with and others that are scarcely accepted. Those providers that do accept almost all insurances are precious unicorns, and like precious unicorns, are highly sought after. This shouldn’t stop you from trying to reach out to them anyways. You may still be able to connect them, in which case, great! In case you can’t however, you may want to consider out-of-network providers. Many insurances plans reimburse a significant portion of the therapy fees, and it may be worth checking if your plan does as well.
With location, it may be worth traveling a few extra miles for the right therapist. As mentioned, therapists in downtown Seattle tend to have fuller caseloads. Alternatively, if travelling is an issue, it may be worth considering remote therapy. Many therapists now offer online therapy (tele-health) as an option. Instead of giving into that automatic bias that therapy has to be in-person to be effective, just try it out. You may be surprised. With today’s technology, there’s a lot you can do with online therapy that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do in person.
4. Ask for help. I can’t emphasize this one enough. You don’t have to do this alone. If you have people in your life that you trust, ask them to help you. They may know a good therapist. If not, they can help with the search. Perhaps do a portion of the screening or phone calls for you. Let them help alleviate some of the stress inherent in finding a therapist in Seattle.
Sometimes it’s not possible to ask those closest to you for help. Consider online matching services. They can do the heavy lifting (aka deal with the headaches and frustrations of finding you someone), so that you can just focus on getting better.
Yes, finding a therapist in Seattle can feel stressful and overwhelming. It’s doable. I promise. Just follow these tips. You can get it done. You’re worth it!
If you need help, give us a visit here, it’s free.
By Angela Di Paola, MSW