Medically Reviewed By: Morgan Blair, MA, LPCC, NCC
One of the most challenging things about starting therapy is finding the right provider. A Google search of “therapist near me” that yields over two-billion results doesn’t help the matter. But there are plenty of ways to narrow the field and find a therapist near you who is your perfect match.
Online Therapy vs. In-Person Therapy
- Access – Online therapy is readily available, whereas in-person therapy requires advance scheduling and transportation
- Intimacy – You and your therapist can establish a connection regardless of the format of the sessions, but body language plays into in-person therapy more than online
- Affordability – In-person therapy is typically more expensive than online therapy
There are a few apparent distinctions between online therapy and in-person therapy. But, access is just part of the picture when you want to find a therapist near you.
Online therapy tends to be more cost-effective, making it easier to secure the treatment and support you need on a budget. However, if you have insurance covering mental health services, it may restrict you to in-office visits, depending on the plan. However, due to the pandemic, more insurances are accepting telehealth therapy services to allow people to stay home and still get help.
We’ve got an article that takes a deeper dive into the differences between online therapy and in-person therapy. You may find it helpful if you’re on the fence about which way to go on your quest to find a therapist in your area.
As a general guideline, you’ll have a more intimate relationship with your in-person therapist, while your online practitioner is more accessible. If you find a therapist through some top-rated websites, text messaging could be part of the treatment plan, providing you with ongoing support instead of a single weekly appointment.
How to Find an In-Person Therapist in Your Area
Don’t feel that you’re limited to that two-billion-result Google search when you’re looking for an in-person therapist in your area. Even if you stick to online investigation to come up with a few options, you can get to the heart of the matter instead of wasting your time on long lists of possibilities.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I prefer a one-on-one session or to be a part of a group experience?
- What is my primary reason for seeking therapy?
- How far am I willing to travel?
- Is cost an issue, or do I have insurance restrictions?
- Am I part of a community (veterans, teachers, seniors, etc.) with specialized resources?
Once you have a plan of action in place, you’ve now got a focused search for an in-person therapist in your area.
Resources for finding an in-person therapist in your area
Instead of merely typing “find a therapist near me,” hone in on your precise needs.
- Therapist specialty
- Group or private session preference
- Accepts a specific insurance provider
Turn to your community or affiliations
When things are a bit overwhelming, we sometimes miss the simple solutions to problems. If you’re a group member, you might not even realize that you have access to affiliated in-person therapists.
For example, large corporations may provide therapy sessions through employee assistance programs. Or, you might be a member of a church that has counseling services for its congregation. Business groups, senior centers, veterans organizations, even local universities have in-house therapists or referrals.
Start with your physician
For referrals, you can try your doctor, school, friends, family, or anyone else you know that is willing to help. Often times your physician knows you and your situation and can provide you with options that fit your therapeutic and insurance needs. You should let them know how serious your situation is, what you feel, and how it’s affecting you to help them understand what is going on.
Other resources for finding an in-person therapist near you
- Personal referrals – family, friends, co-workers
- Local directories of therapy providers
- An online search using an alternative search engine (i.e., Bing instead of Google)
- Your health insurance company
How to Find an Online Therapist Servicing Your Area
The field is expansive for in-person therapy, but even more so if you’re looking for an online therapist near you. Both geographic and timing constraints are lifted, and you’ll have access to some of the top providers in their respective fields, regardless of location.
When you’re seeking in-person therapy, top considerations include private versus group sessions and the therapeutic approach (cognitive behavior, client-centered, humanistic, etc.) aside from the office location.
With online therapy, though, you’re still considering the type of treatment offered but also the way it’s provided.
For example, some online practitioners do phone sessions, while others stick to video chats. There are also combined approaches where you might do a one-on-one session voice-to-voice and then communicate through text messaging or a private online message board.
Another thing to consider is counselors have to be licensed in your state regardless of where they are located in order to see you. Although, the counselor pact bills are passing through state legislatures and are offering some promising changes to access across state lines in the near future.
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Considerations for seeking an online therapist
- Phone or video chat
- Text messaging access
- Number of monthly sessions provided
- Supplementary materials – like self-guided manuals, questionnaires, and “homework”
Narrowing the field for online therapists in your area also benefits from a targeted approach. It involves similar criteria, such as cost and specialty. But, there are slightly different resources for online therapists in your area.
Tips for finding an online therapist with services in your area
- Go big – Start with some of the larger online therapy providers with the best reputation and narrow the search based on cost and specialties.
- Use your contacts – Personal referrals still work, whether for in-person or online therapists.
- Employee assistance programs – Some of the top-rated online therapy providers partner with employee assistance programs. Contacting your human resources representative could set you on the right path to virtual treatment.
- Rely on experts – Again, your physician or insurance company is one of the best resources, especially if you plan on using your health benefits. They can guide you to some online counselors or therapy services, as well as in person.
- What’s the buzz? – Participate or read through some Reddit threads or join a support group addressing similar issues. You could pick up some tips and referrals from an active community with online therapy knowledge.
- Do some light reading – Many online therapists publish blogs or articles with helpful tips that may resonate. If you read something you like, see if the author provides virtual or phone sessions.
Tips to Find a Therapist That’s Compatible with You
It’s important to remember that one person’s therapy preference doesn’t necessarily coincide with yours. But you can look for patterns of feedback or ask follow-up questions when someone recommends an online counselor or therapist.
The goal is to go from finding a therapist NEAR you to finding the right one FOR you.
- Know what you’re trying to get help with. While you don’t have to be an expert in what is going to work for you (that’s what the therapist is there for), it helps to know as much as possible what you’re having troubles with. This can assist you during the initial sign-up process to get matched with a therapist who is most skilled in what will benefit you the most.
- First impressions matter. Don’t try to make something work if it doesn’t feel comfortable. You know the type of person who you click with and respect, so rely on your instincts.
- Conduct an interview. You don’t have to lock yourself into a long-term commitment with one therapist just because the service is convenient. Ask some questions before you move forward and get a feel for their accessibility and treatment approach.
- Consider the service as a whole. If you need someone to talk to, don’t settle for an online service that’s text-messaging focused. Or, if you’re looking for a therapist near you for one-on-one time, don’t pick a provider who promotes group sessions.
FAQs About Finding Therapy Service Near You
How do I know if I should find an in-person or online therapist?
Your form of treatment is a personal decision, but you should consider insurance coverage, your availability, and contact preferences. If you’re not comfortable with video chats or text messaging, then you’ll prefer traditional in-office sessions, which are also more effective when treating severe mental illness.
Is it more cost-effective to find an online therapist in my area versus in-person?
Rates and program details vary from site to site and office to office. However, in general, online therapy is more affordable. Some of the top providers even have free self-guided or trial plans.
How do I find an online therapist that takes my insurance?
Online therapy has evolved, even in just the past year, and now many prominent online therapy providers accept health insurance. You could visit a few of the top-rated online therapists servicing your area and search for your plan on their FAQ page. Or, you could reverse the process and contact your insurance company for suggestions.
What Are the Benefits of Online Therapy?
Sometimes your safe space is your home, and online therapy can help you from there. You can feel comfortable and can get the help you want in a private space with no worries about others listening in.
Another benefit is cost, most online therapy services cost less than a traditional in-person therapy session and even include live messaging at any time.
The biggest benefit is access, almost everyone has internet, but there are millions of people without cars or any other form of transportation for them to get to an in-person therapist.