How to Find the Right Therapist in DC

December 30, 2023

If you are considering reaching out to a therapist, you are likely taking a major step towards personal growth and greater well-being. It takes a lot of courage for people to take that first step, and unfortunately, it can be a frustrating process for some people, especially those with no prior therapy experiences. Finding a therapist can feel especially daunting in large cities like DC where the number of options to try and pick from is vast. To make the process of finding a Washington DC therapist feel as smooth as possible, I’ve put together a list of things to consider when seeking assistance.

1. Decide whether you choose in-network or out-of-network DC therapists

This decision comes down to finances versus choice. Getting help from an in-network provider will usually cost less, but can lead to limited options. This is especially true in DC where many providers only provide out-of-network services. If you elect to go in-network, your insurance carrier will usually have a directory on their website where you can search for providers. If you go out-of-network, directories such as Psychology Today and Goodtherapy are excellent resources that have a lot of filtering options to help you find a provider who is a good fit. If you’re not sure what direction to go in, this blog post has additional information on the differences between in and out-of-network treatment. 

2. Decide if you want to get a referral for a therapist in Washington, DC

One of the most common ways that people will select a therapist is through getting a therapist’s name from a trusted contact, such as a friend or a family member. That contact may have had a good experience with the provider, or may have heard positive things about them from others. Knowing that a provider comes recommended can ease the anxiety of starting therapy. If you reach out to a therapist who you were referred to and they cannot immediately take you on, they may be able to provide you with referrals to other providers they think highly of. You can also ask to be put on that provider’s waitlist if you know you want to work with them and are OK with waiting.

3. Narrow down by specialty

Many providers are specialists in treating certain issues, such as anxiety and trauma. They may have also learned specialized therapeutic approaches, such as EMDR. You can often find what a provider specializes in through their websites and/or their directory profiles (e.g. Psychology Today), and you can also ask them about this during a phone consultation.

4. Ask about their approach to your therapy

How a therapist approaches treatment reflects several things–their training, their personality, and their beliefs. Listening carefully to how a provider describes their approach to symptom reduction and growth can give you some insight into whether you will find it comfortable and productive working with them.

5. While looking for therapists in Washington, DC take your time

When people are seeking out a therapist they are often in emotional crisis and feel a sense of urgency to get in with someone. This is understandable. If it feels doable, however, it can be valuable to be patient with this process. Most providers will offer a free 15 minute or so phone consultation, and it can be useful to do several of these consultations to get a sense of different providers’ approaches and temperaments to figure out who you feel comfortable with. 

Your first sessions with a provider will give you more insight into whether you are secure working with them. If something doesn’t feel right, you can either talk with them about it or seek alternative assistance. Finding a provider you trust takes some additional legwork on the front end of therapy but is likely to be very beneficial over the long term.

If you are interested in discussing some therapy options with Dr. Afram, schedule your 15 minute introduction call today.