The ABC's of searching for a Mental Health provider online

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A is for.....ASK

A great place to start is always with your primary care physician/pediatrician. They are a valuable resource in this process.  Consider asking friends, neighbors, co workers.  This can can be done discreetly, " I have a friend who is struggling to a find a therapist/psychiatrist/program for their child/parent, etc.  would you happen to know of any good providers in the area or know anyone who might?"  It is not as awkward as you think, and you may be surprised at just how many people are in the same situation.

Check with your insurance company for a list of in-network providers, and a comprehensive understanding of your out of network provider coverage.  Understand what the insurance company will need  for documentation for reimbursement ; receipts with clearly stated ICD-10 (diagnosis codes) and clearly stated proof of payment.

B is for ....Be diligent, be your own detective, be patient with your search!

Looking for a mental health resource  is not like picking  a painter, it will take time and some real attention to detail.  When searching online, use reputable sites like the ones listed here like Psychology Today  and NAMI ( best for out of Chester County searches).  Be diligent....look for providers educational information, where did they practice previously? Are they published? Are they members of professional organizations?  We have a wealth of information at our fingertips... use it.  Google earth the address of the practice.  I found a provider online during a recent search and something did not seem right so I google 'd the address  ( pictured right).  This does not seem like a legitimate professional practice, does it?     NO...NEXT!!!  I also noticed under education it only said " attended a college"  Anyone online can claim to be a provider....be a detective!

C is for.....CONSULTATION

If you find a possible provider online, call for a free phone consultation ( most offer them).  Does the person seem interested in your situation? Do they offer their experience on the subject? Do they take time to talk with you?  I called several providers looking for one out of state for a family member; the first yawned on the phone, said" oh, I am so busy does he have time like maybe on a Tues, I may be able to squeeze in some time but I'll have to check" ..... Nope, next! The next one drowned on and on about her fee schedule and the fact that she does not take insurance and cash or credit at time of visit only and her missed appointment charge and her late charge and...... NOPE  The next call I made asked me details about the reason I called, asked a brief history of the problem, explained her expertise in that field of study, asked to be allowed to meet with the patient to see if he LIKED HER and would be willing to work with her...a 20 minute consultation.  She has turned out to be an amazing gift to our story and the key to a hopeful ending.  My point?  Be patient in your search and keep trying to find the right sounding fit before wasting your time and potentially souring the person you are trying to help against pursuing other possibilities.