Finding a Therapist:  A Step-by-Step Guide

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© 2004, Trina Swerdlow

Here are the steps you will find on our “treasure map":

Step 1:  Gather a list of all of the CBT therapists you can find in your area.  This involves sending one email and looking at 2 or 3 websites.

Step 2:  Send a brief email to each CBT therapist on your list.  A suggested email is provided.

Step 3:  Have a brief chat on the phone with each CBT therapist you are considering.  Suggested questions for this short conversation are provided.

Step 4:  Choose a CBT therapist for an initial session.

Step 5:  If your “treasure hunt” hasn’t located a CBT therapist, Step 5 gives you an excellent option for telephone sessions, to get you started on your healing path.

To begin your “treasure hunt," print out this page.  Then, just follow the steps:

Step 1:  Gathering the List

To put together a list of CBT therapists in your area, follow these four steps:

1)  Dr. David Barlow is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of panic disorder.  He maintains an excellent referral list of CBT therapists.  To see if he has a referral in your area, send an email to his nurse administrator, Ms. Bonnie Brown, at:  mailto:bonnieb@bu.edu

Here is a suggested email:

Dear Ms. Brown,

I found your name and email address on the website “paniccure.com.”  I live in [your city or town, your State], which is near [major city].  Do you have a referral for a CBT therapist in my area? 

Thank you,
[your name]

(For an introduction to Dr. Barlow’s outstanding program for overcoming panic, see this short essay:  Slowing Down and Unmasking the Panic Monster: The MAP Program.)

2)  Go to this website:  http://www.adaa.org/netforum/findatherapist#top.  This is the directory of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the leading organization in the field of anxiety disorders.  Many members of this organization are CBT therapists.  The members are primarily in the U.S.

Cursor down about half-way down the page.  Enter your address, city, state, and zip code. Then, select a "distance in miles" option to find the closest therapists.  If you  live in Canada, enter your province in the "state" field.

Click on each therapist’s name, and read the description.  If the therapist talks about “cognitive-behavioral therapy,” then print out the listing.  Therapists who have PhDs are the most likely to be trained in CBT.

3)  Go to this website:  http://www.academyofct.orgThis is the directory of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, one of the leading organizations in the field. Click on "Find a Certified Cognitive Therapist."  

4)  If you already have a good list at this point, you can skip this step if you like. This last website is the directory of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, another leading organization in the field.
http://www.abct.org/Members/?m=FindTherapist&fa=FT_Form&nolm=1

Enter your City and State.  Under "Specialties", you can select "Panic Disorders", "Phobia" and/or "Social Anxiety."  Cursor down to the bottom of the "Specialties" section, and click on "Search."  Click on the names of the therapists, then print out the information on each therapist.

If you don't live in a large city, try entering your State only, without the City.  See if there are any nearby therapists.
 

Step 2:  Making Contact

For each CBT therapist on your list, send an email or leave a brief phone message.

Here is a suggested email:

Dear Dr. [therapist’s name],

I found your name and email address through a website called “paniccure.com,” which includes a guide to finding a therapist.  I live in [your city or town].  I am working for my recovery from panic disorder, and I am looking for an experienced CBT therapist to work with.  If you are available, I would be interested in having a brief chat with you on the phone, to ask you a few questions.   My number is [your phone number].

Thank you,
[your name]

If no email address is listed, leave a brief phone message.  Here is a suggested phone message:

My name is [your name].  I found your name and phone number through a website called “paniccure.com,” which has a guide to finding a therapist.  I live in [your city or town].  I’m working for my recovery from panic disorder, and I’m looking for an experienced CBT therapist to work with.  If you’re available, I’d be interested in having a brief chat with you, to ask you a few questions.  My number is [your phone number].

Step 3:  Phone Interviews

Have a brief chat on the phone with each CBT therapist you are considering.  Remember: you are interviewing them to see if they feel like a good “match” for your needs.

Here are some suggested questions to ask:

1)    What can you tell me about your experience with CBT?

2)    Are you familiar with the work of David Barlow?  Do you use his approach or something similar? 

3)    In your experience, about how many sessions does it take before a client sees some progress in their recovery?

4)    What are your fees?  Do you think my insurance will cover some of the expense?

5)    Do you have a “sliding scale” for people with limited income?

6)    Thank you very much for your time.  I’ll give this some thought, and if I’m interested, I’ll call you back to set up an initial session.

If agoraphobia makes it difficult to travel to the therapist’s office, say something like this:  

“I am willing to work for my recovery from agoraphobia.  Right now, your office is outside of my “safe” zone.  Are you willing to work with me on the phone until I can travel to your office?”

A personal note from Neal:  When I started CBT, I was unable to travel to my therapist's office.  We started with phone sessions, and it worked great!

Step 4:  The Initial Session

Choose a therapist for an initial session.  Call and schedule an appointment.  

The purpose of the initial session is to get acquainted and learn about your therapist’s approach.  Remember that the therapist you hire is working for you.  The initial session should give you the information you need to decide if he/she is right for the job.  Ask about a specific diagnosis and a specific treatment plan.

After the session, ask yourself how you feel about this prospective therapist.  Do you feel comfortable with him/her?  Does he/she seem to have the experience and knowledge you are looking for?  Do you want to hire this person as your CBT therapist?

 

If the therapist just doesn’t feel right for you, call a second therapist for an initial session.  You are entitled to hire the very best CBT therapist you can find!

Step 5:  Consider Telephone Sessions

If your “treasure hunt” hasn’t located a CBT therapist, here is an excellent option for telephone sessions, to get you started on your healing path:

Dr. Roger Tilton, one of the foremost CBT therapists in the country, offers phone sessions.  If you would like to talk to Dr. Tilton about how CBT can empower you to overcome panic and anxiety, send him an email at Cognitiveriv@aol.com  There is no charge for the initial conversation.

We highly recommend reading Dr. Tilton's article on this website: Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to Overcome Panic Attacks

Information about Dr. Tilton

We invite your feedback on this  “treasure map,” so we can make it even better.  Send your comments and suggestions by clicking here.  Thank you!

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