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Finding A Therapist (part 2)

Now that you’ve read “Finding A Therapist” (part 1), you know just how important “goodness of fit” is.  But perhaps equally as important as the characteristics of the ideal therapist, is understanding how to budget for these services.  There are several different options that may be available, including using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits, healthcare insurance, or paying privately for services. 

  1.  Employee Assistance Program (EAP):  benefit available through most employers which often provides behavioral health or substance use services.  Sessions are typically limited to 3-10 sessions, and commonly are available once per year, per presenting concern.  EAP is a good way to “try out” counseling and a therapist, as many of them are available to see clients after they’ve completed their available EAP sessions.
  2.  Healthcare Insurance:  Most commercial healthcare insurance plans (e.g., Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, United/Optum) identify either “in network” or “out of network” providers.  In network is a preferred provider, and typically covers the vast majority of the fees associated with the service.  On the other hand, use of an out of network provider is typically allowed, however, this requires the client to pay the therapist upfront, and for the client to submit a reimbursement form to the healthcare insurance plan.  Out of network services are reimbursed at a lower rate than in network. 

Some therapists are in network, while others are out of network providers.  There seems to be more availability of out of network providers.  Therefore, if you have a more urgent need to connect with a therapist, and can afford paying up front for services and accepting a lower reimbursement rate from your healthcare insurance plan, using an out of network provider is probably the better option.

  •  Private Pay:  If you are able to finance therapy without relying upon EAP or commercial healthcare insurance, you’ll have many options of therapists.  In addition, private pay does not require the therapist to create a diagnosis for you, and provides you the optimal flexibility for choosing your own provider.  If finances are a concern, some therapists offer a “sliding scale” option, and there are university training programs that can help to provide low cost or even free services when working with a student-trainee.
  •  An additional option is to use a flexible healthcare spending account (if this is a benefit of your provider).  This allows the beneficiary the option of using pre-tax dollars to pay for healthcare services, which ultimately saves you money.

Regardless of the method that you use to find your therapist, getting started is often the hardest part.  Rest assured; you’ll likely feel better after speaking with a trained professional.