A good psychologist near you can help you understand your mental processes, offer a medical diagnosis of your mental health, and provide you with safe medical advice and treatment. It is estimated that one in four Americans aged 18 and above suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder, with about 9.5% of American adults suffering from a depressive illness every year. If left untreated, these mental health disorders can increase the risk of many unsafe and potentially dangerous problems such as alcohol or drug abuse, violent or destructive behaviors, and even chronic health issues like heart disease and cancer. Beyond keeping tabs on, and treating your mental health, a good psychologist near you can also help with addressing behavioral problems, learning challenges, and socialization difficulties.
While it is crucial to protect your mental health and seek medical help when you notice developing mental irregularities, it is equally vital to make sure that the psychologist you visit has the necessary knowledge and expertise to assess your specific condition and proffer effective medical solutions. To ensure that the psychologist near you is qualified and competent, you can ask the following questions:
Psychologists are typically required to obtain a state-issued license before practicing. Several states, including California, Florida, Texas, and New York, also require psychologists to comply with additional requirements such as completing state-mandated continuing professional education, once they have obtained these licenses. Since a psychologist's license is state-issued, the license's scope, requirements, and period of validity differ by state. For example, psychologist licenses in Connecticut and Florida are valid for one and two years respectively, while psychologists in New York are required to undergo a registration renewal process every three years to continue practicing within the state. On the other hand, licenses issued in Texas may be valid for either a year or two, depending on the directives of the state's Behavioral Health Executive Council, while psychologist licenses in Hawaii are renewed by June 30 of every even-numbered year, regardless of the issuance date.
Accordingly, before booking an appointment with a psychologist near you, it is vital to ensure the psychologist is licensed and also in compliance with any state-specific requirements of your locality. Regarding this, you can contact your state's psychologists' licensing board to make the necessary inquiries. Also, there are nationally recognized associations, such as the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists, which psychologists typically join. These associations conduct additional training, issue certifications, and organize programs to improve the knowledge and expertise of their members in assessing psychological processes and addressing psychological issues. Furthermore, these associations have professional standards they expect from their members and duly enforce. Therefore, it is recommended that you hire a psychologist that belongs to such associations, as they are more likely to be aware of new trends, better assessment procedures, effective treatment options, and deliver a more professional service.
The cost for booking a session with a psychologist depends on varying factors such as your location, the number of sessions booked, the psychologist's expertise, and whether you have insurance. The psychologist's billing method may also influence these costs. For example, some psychologists bill hourly, while some bill per session. Depending on the number of sessions booked and how long a session lasts, paying per hour may be more expensive than paying per session and vice versa. Given these considerations, the average cost for booking a session with a psychologist in the United States typically ranges between $25 - $200 per hour or $70 - $250 per session.
When planning for a session with a psychologist near you, you can do a few things to make sure the cost does not go over your budget. They include:
Contacting your insurance service provider: Per federal law, insurance providers are required to provide coverage for mental health-related issues that are on par with their coverage for other types of medical issues. If you have health insurance coverage, you should contact your insurance service provider and find out the extent to which your insurance policy covers mental health-related services. With average insurance copay rates, booking a psychologist can be as low as $25 - $70 per hour if your insurance covers your specific mental health-related issues.
- Giving as much information as you can: To help assess your mental health, psychologists typically need as much accurate and relevant information from you as possible. Withholding information can cause your visits to the psychologist's office to become longer, increasing the cost of the psychologist's services. Therefore, it is crucial to give as much information that you feel is relevant to your situation to help your psychologist correctly assess your condition and make quicker progress.
The most common expense for booking a psychologist is the session fee. However, before booking an appointment with a psychologist, it is a good idea to find out how much their service costs and their billing method, as this will help you properly budget for the service. Some psychologists charge hourly fees, some charge per session, and some may use a sliding scale method to charge clients that are low-income earners. Finding out how your intended psychologist charges for their services helps you determine the right session format to ensure that you get value for your money. For example, if you plan to see a psychologist who bills per session, you should also find out how long a session lasts. If you feel that these sessions do not last long for you, then it may be better to look for a psychologist that charges hourly rates. On the other hand, it may be cheaper for you to pay per session instead of hourly if your sessions with the psychologist go on for long periods.
When you book a session with a psychologist's office, the psychologist typically handles each session personally. Therefore, you should make sure the psychologist you are booking a session with is not only qualified but also licensed according to your state's requirements. You can confirm this by contacting your state's psychologists' licensing board. However, in some situations, a psychologist's assistant may handle the administrative aspects of each session, such as confirming appointments, validating payments, and other supportive duties such as preparing you for therapy. Accordingly, you should inquire with your psychologist if you will be attended to by assistants and what role the assistants will perform. If an assistant will perform a supportive role that is critical to your session with your psychologist, such as preparing you for therapy sessions, be sure the assistant is qualified or has enough training to do so. You can confirm the qualification and training of an assistant by asking your psychologist.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are 192,300 psychologists currently practicing in the country. While a master's degree may be sufficient for a psychologist to practice, most entry-level roles require a doctoral degree in psychology. To broaden their knowledge and improve their expertise in their areas of specialization, psychologists also apply for training sessions, internships, and programs organized by credible associations such as the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists and also obtain certifications. Such certificates show that a psychologist has acquired more training or knowledge in an area of specialization, thereby indicating they are likely to be more competent than their uncertified colleagues. Some psychologists also apply to be members of such credible associations. Besides training sessions and programs, these associations offer other membership benefits such as discounted access to research papers or research fundings. Therefore, while association membership is not mandatory, it exposes psychologists to better opportunities for development and improved expertise in their areas of specialization. Finally, psychologists also develop their knowledge and expertise through years of practice, constant learning, and internships.
To ensure that you get the right mental health diagnosis, it is critical to be sure the psychologist you intend to see is the right person to adequately examine your mental health. While asking for references from previous clients is a good way to assess the competence of any professional, psychologists are ethically bound not to disclose any identifiable information associated with any of their clients without the client's consent. Even when a client gives their psychologist consent to share their information, psychologists mostly use such information for the benefit of the client, like contacting the client's family member for helpful interviews regarding the client's situation.
As such, the best source of referrals for a good psychologist near you is from trusted family members, friends, doctors, your place of worship, local community mental health centers, and professional associations like the American Psychological Association. You can also get reviews on the services of psychologists that are referred to you from review-specific platforms like Yelp, Google Review, and Better Business Bureau. These platforms contain voluntary reviews from several people who have had sessions with various psychologists and are information hotspots on the service delivery of psychologists near you. Alternatively, you can type in the name of any referred psychologists in online search engines to see if any voluntary reviews from previous clients are available online.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The differences between a psychologist and counselor include their level of education, their areas of specialty, and what they can do. For entry-level roles, psychologists typically need a doctorate in psychology, while counselors need a master's degree. Also, psychologists have varying areas of specialization categorized under clinical and counseling psychology. Therefore, psychologists, particularly those who specialize in counseling psychology, can perform counseling roles and more complex assessments involving medical research. On the other hand, a counselor primarily performs counseling roles and may need additional certifications, qualifications, or training to perform different roles outside counseling.
While the processes of counseling and psychotherapy both aim to assess and improve a person's mental health, the method for each process varies. Generally, the state of your mental health and your goals will determine whether you need counseling or psychotherapy. Counseling is typically short-term, focuses on a specific behavior or condition, and seeks to offer practical solutions for improving that behavior or condition. On the other hand, psychotherapy is usually long-term, focuses on broader behavioral patterns that affect a specific or regular behavior, may include talk therapy, and involves in-depth approaches to improving general behavioral or mental health conditions. For example, counseling may be better for a specific or isolated behavioral problem such as an anxiety disorder, while psychotherapy may be more appropriate if the problem is recurrent or causes other behavioral issues. However, before choosing counseling or psychotherapy, it is best to consult a licensed psychologist.
Generally, psychotherapy works by:
- Making people conscious of their feelings and emotions
- Helping people realize their negative feelings and isolating the causes of these feelings
- Helping people come up with solutions to addressing both the causes and effects of negative feelings on their mental health, and
- Helping people to develop more positive behaviors or engage in activities to help reduce negative feelings and increase overall positivity.
Essentially, psychotherapy helps to not only deal with self-destructive behaviors or mental disorders but also address their underlying causes or develop positive habits that help phase out the negative ones. Consequently, rather than focus on negative behaviors, you can now dedicate your time to more satisfactory activities and gain a healthier view of living.
There are various types of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on an individual's interpretation of events, and psychodynamic therapy, which helps an individual understand themselves and how they relate with others. The kind of psychotherapy you need will depend on your psychologist's assessment of your mental health.
Scientifically, mental disorders that can be treated with psychotherapy include:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
While psychotherapy can help with various mental disorders, some types of psychotherapy are better suited and more effective for some mental disorders than others. Therefore, it is vital to describe the state of your mental health to your psychologist in the best way possible and properly answer any questions the psychologist asks, as this will assist your psychologist in finding the most suitable psychotherapy type for improving your mental health.
During therapy sessions, psychologists typically ask questions regarding your life, yourself, problems you would like to address, previous attempts at dealing with such problems, improvements, and your general expectations from the therapy session.
Psychologists ask open-ended questions to help clients talk more about their lives with lesser restriction or lesser feelings of bias from the psychologist. In general, open-ended questions are designed to encourage clients to think more deeply before speaking and make them feel less defensive and more comfortable since they are doing most of the talking.
There is typically no definitive certain period when you know it is time to stop therapy. However, since therapy seeks to help you handle or live with a condition or situation, instances when it may be safe or appropriate to stop therapy include:
- When you can no longer fit it in your schedule or day-to-day life
- When you can now handle the situation or manage the condition that made you go to therapy without the presence or advice of your therapist
- When you feel each therapy session is a dead end without any objective or subjective improvements
- If you are uncomfortable with or do not trust your therapist even after a few therapy sessions
- If the therapist suggests an end to the therapy sessions