How can you find a mental health provider?

To find a mental health provider, you have several options:

  • Ask your health insurance company for a list of covered providers.
  • Seek a referral or recommendation from your primary care provider.
  • Ask trusted friends, family or clergy.
  • Check to see whether your company's employee assistance program (EAP) or student health center offers mental health services, or ask for a referral.
  • Contact a local or national mental health organization by phone or on the Internet, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
  • Search websites for professional associations that have directories of mental health providers. For example, the American Medical Association includes psychiatrists, and the American Psychiatric Association includes several different types of therapists. Many other professional associations have listings of mental health providers, such as the American Psychological Association and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
  • Check phone book listings or search the Internet under categories such as community service numbers, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists or social service organizations.

What should you look for in a mental health provider?

When choosing a mental health provider, consider these issues:

  • Education, training, licensing and years in practice — licensing requirements vary widely by state
  • Areas they specialize in and specific services they offer
  • Treatment approaches and philosophy
  • Which insurance providers they work with
  • Office hours, fees and length of sessions

Don't hesitate to ask lots of questions. Finding the right match is crucial to establishing a good relationship and getting the most out of your treatment.

Feb. 18, 2014 See more In-depth