In this guide you’ll find some useful links, some names of clinics, and tips on interviewing therapists, psychiatrists and other forms of mental health providers. This guide is a hair long, but I tried to touch on most of the main hurdles and misconceptions to getting effective treatment or support. And besides…don’t we all need this? I mean, who hasn’t experienced 2020 as a dumpster fire of unrelenting fear, loss, heartbreak and disappointment? Who isn’t functionally depressed and worse off for it these days? Really, it’s self preservation for most of us at this point, not a luxury.
Due to social distancing, 98% of mental health services are entirely remote. That means you can choose from anyone in your entire state! A few benefits being— proximity not a factor in seeking the best fit with someone (more on this below); service prices for private practices outside big cities drop dramatically.
Things to consider including in your introductory email to providers:
-Preferred name and preferred pronouns
-1 to 3 sentences about what is bringing you to therapy at this time
-1 to 2 sentences on anything else you would like support around
-Price range that you can comfortably afford for minimum 1 session/week
-Whether or not you hope to bill through insurance or have out-of-network benefits
-Anything that needs to be considered with scheduling and availability
Some popular sites for private practicioners (likely your most expensive option):
www.psychologytoday.com – has lots of check boxes to narrow your search results; most popular advertizing website in North America
www.ManhattanAlternative.com – Affirming health providers for people with non-heteronormative, non-vanilla, and/or non-monogamous identities
Some NY community clinics and institutes – MUCH cheaper, still excellent services – (names may be a little different than what’s written here but that won’t stop Google from finding it for you).
-Pride Healing Center
-The William Allenson White Institute
-The Psychoanalytic Association of New York (PANY)
-NYU PostDoc Center for Psychoanalysis
-Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy
-Columbia Institute for something like Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytic & Research – all very highly trained medical doctors+mental health providers = very tailored care at under $40.
-NYC Covid Care- free emotional/mental/spiritual services for essential workers AND/OR their family members
No doubt there are more clinics in major cities and most state who will provide low and/or entirely free services because it isn’t a financial burden for them to do so. They’re subsidized and salaried and have that capability built into their business model. Outside the city they probably have much lower demand for their services and current openings so you could be less likely to have to wait on a list. Could be worth exploring. You know best what you can reasonably and sustainably do right now, but good therapy doesn’t have to be a financial burden.
What is therapy in the 21st century?
It is an hour (or more, if needed) a week where it’s all about you and your needs. Whether emotional support is needed, a place to vent, or someone to problem solve with, therapy can be any and all of those things, consistently, with someone completely invested in you living your best life.
What is so special about that? I have friends or family for that.
Great! Love that! Therapy is very much a relationship with someone who genuinely cares about what is in your best interest (like a dear one would); but with whom you don’t have to protect their feelings, hold space to hear about their life or problems, or censor yourself in order to preserve the relationship. It is no longer just a place for people with severe disturbances, or who feel broken inside and cannot cope with life’s challenges. For 50 years, therapists have been diligently researching and applying what works for people to help them live their best life (the psychology of a happy, well adjusted life) and is no longer entirely focused on pathology. Now, it’s really for everyone, because who couldn’t use an hour a week where it’s all about them and their needs?
What is different about seeing a therapist vs other types of doctors?
1) YOU are the expert on your mind, your body, and your needs.
2) You can set boundaries like—”I don’t want to talk about X,Y,orZ right now.”
3) You can tell your therapist what is feeling helpful in your work together and what you don’t love, and they will listen compassionately and do their best to adapt the sessions to work well for both of you, but especially for you.
4) Your therapist is not afraid of your emotions, and won’t turn away from your emotional pain and suffering.
5) Therapists understand that working with someone is a lot like dating—in that, even if everything sounds perfect on paper, personal chemistry can only be tested by doing some work together, and it’s no one’s fault if it isn’t (and you probably shouldn’t stay with them if it’s not there and can’t be resolved ala #3). Chemistry here means that you feel safe with and want to tell them everything without holding back or censoring yourself because you know they won’t judge you– just feel compassion and empathy for you regardless of the content of your work together.
6) Therapists are entirely comfortable with being or hearing a “broken record”.
We don’t get annoyed when the same things keep coming up (let’s be real, your BFF has gotten fed up at times). That’s expected and natural in this work.
7) You set the pace of the work. You set the main agenda each week.
8) No bullying or threats to get you to change to meet their needs/expectations at their pace.
9) Every therapist uses different techniques, and has their own style and personality they bring to the work, so no two experiences will ever be the same no matter what. If you had a less than stellar experience in the past it was probably a bad fit with no chemistry. Keep looking!
10) You can do great work with a therapist, feel it get stuck, and work with someone new on different things you need support with. Totally normal! No therapist expects to keep a client on forever! In fact, a core goal of ours is to give you the support and tools and new coping skills you need to fire us! It’s ok if you want to come back to it in the future, too. None of us believe we are the end-all-be-all for our clients.
And if you do happen to recognize that you’re experiencing symptoms of depression that are disruptive to your life, I’d wager they’re like their own voice in your head— talking you out of taking action to treat it. That’s exactly how it do. It will never easily and willfully let go once it sets in. It literally rewires your brain and preserves its own persistence. An estimated 19 million Americans are experiencing symptoms of depression at any given time. But no one needs to live that, and that doesn’t have to be “just who you are” for the rest of your life. Effective and diverse treatments are available, and accessible–and doesn’t every little bit help? That pearl of wisdom works for way more than just fundraising.
Below are a few of my favorite worksheets for self-care and de-stressing. For more mindfulness and meditation exercises, check out my dedicated YouTube playlist here.
Good luck! You deserve this!
Tex Gibson, LMSW
Please feel free to share this information far and wide with anyone whom you think could be helped by it, whether or not they live in New York.