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How to Choose a Therapist in Salinas, CA

Deciding to start therapy is a HUGE step.  So is choosing a therapist.  A simple google search of “therapist in Salinas, CA” brings up pages and pages of options.

Research tells us that a key ingredient for effective therapy is having a great “fit” with your therapist.  So how, in the ocean of therapists, do you figure out who is the best fit for you?

Here are 5 tips to find a therapist in Salinas, CA that’s right for YOU:

1. Consider your goals for therapy.

Your goals for therapy may impact the type of therapist you’ll search for.  Maybe you’re a college student looking for safe ways to cope with thoughts of self-harm.  Maybe you’re a young professional looking for strategies to manage ADHD at work.  Maybe you’re a survivor of trauma looking to heal your nervous system so you can feel at ease in your body again.  Maybe you’re part of a couple looking for effective communication strategies to strengthen your partnership.  Maybe you’re a new parent hoping to make sense of your shifting identities and priorities.

Not sure what your goals are?  That’s totally okay.  Sometimes we reach out for therapy when we’re in pain, before we can imagine any concrete solutions.  Even if your goal is “I want to feel better,” try to note any specific challenges you’d like to work on. This will help you narrow down potential therapists by their specialties and approach to therapy.

2. Get clear on your therapy budget.

Have a good idea of what you’re willing and able to invest in therapy.  This will help narrow down your search to therapists who offer session rates that are financially comfortable for you.

Remember to factor in your insurance benefits when estimating the cost of therapy with any particular therapist.  Before limiting your search to therapists who accept your insurance, consider checking out your out-of-network mental health benefits.  You may be eligible for partial reimbursement for therapy (even if your therapist DOESN’T work with your insurance).

If you are uninsured, underinsured, or concerned that you cannot afford therapy, there are community resources to support you.  Call Monterey County Behavioral Health at 1-888-258-6029 to learn about low/no-cost counseling options near you.

3. Browse a therapist directory (or two).

Out of the popular therapist directories, Psychology Today is the only one to have more than one page of therapists listed for Salinas.  If you are set on in-person therapy, this may be the best directory to browse.

Depending on your circumstances, you may prefer to meet with a therapist of a certain ethnicity, skin color, gender identity, sexuality, or belief system.  It might be important to you that you share certain values.  You might be looking for someone who can offer therapy in your first language.  This list of qualities will be different for everyone.  Consider what will help YOU feel the most comfortable.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in town, keep in mind that clients in Salinas can work with any therapist licensed in California via online therapy.  Here are a few more directories to consider if you’re open to meeting virtually (in which case, search as wide as the state):

4. Don’t stress too much about the letters after a therapist’s name.

Mental health professionals will often have letters after their name to note the specific license they practice under.  Here are some common credentials and what they stand for:

  • PhD: Doctor of Philosophy
  • PsyD: Doctor of Psychology
  • LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • LPCC: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

While it can be helpful to understand what the letters stand for on a surface level, the truth is that you may not need to know much more in order to make a good decision.  Essentially, any of the above credentials indicate that a therapist has completed a graduate degree in the field, completed multiple years of supervised clinical experience, and passed a rigorous licensing exam.

Beyond that, each therapist’s experience, advanced training, and approach to therapy will be unique to them (and not necessarily exclusive to their license).

5. Get a feel for each potential therapist during your initial consultation.

Many therapists offer a free phone or video consultation to help you decide if the two of you are a good fit.  If you have the bandwidth to do so, consider calling 2-3 therapists who you may want to work with.  Ask your questions about starting therapy.

During and after your call, consider:

  • Do I feel comfortable/at ease in their presence?
  • Do I feel seen, heard, and understood?
  • Do our personalities seem to mesh?
  • Are they able to clearly explain how they can help me?
  • Even if I’m a little nervous, do I look forward to meeting with them?

At the end of the day, the most important thing when choosing a therapist is that you can answer an enthusiastic “yes!” to each of these questions.

Reach out for a free consultation for therapy in Salinas, CA.

I hope this helps you find the right therapist near you.  If you’re still having a hard time finding a good fit, feel free to reach out for a free virtual consultation here.  I’m happy to hear a bit more about what you’re looking for and help direct you to the right person.  If you are a new parent looking for support with pregnancy, the postpartum year, or work after baby, you can read more about how I help here.   

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