Dr. Matthew Paldy
COMPASSIONATE, EFFECTIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY

The Stressed and Busy Person's Guide to Finding a NYC Psychotherapist

By Dr. Matthew Paldy

Living in NYC can be incredibly stressful. Why do you think people stare at pictures on Instagram all day as an escape? It has long been known as the commercial center of the world, and with that comes jobs and lifestyles that can induce anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. It's well documented by organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA). TimeOut Magazine rated New Yorkers as the most stressed out in the world. Stress-inducing factors include commutes on crowded and delayed subways and a high cost of living. Suicide rates are correspondingly high. In addition, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have hit residents hard.

If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, OCD, or PTSD and considering seeking professional help you'll have to wade into the morass of therapy directories, a wide range of fees for therapy, and mental health credentials that can be confusing for anyone not in the psychology field. What if you're suffering from feeling like you should be doing something different? How do you navigate all this to find a therapist? What if you're not sure if you need therapy? I hope this guide will help.

Preliminary Steps to Consider

It's normal to feel nervous or intimidated when finding a therapist who's a good fit, but here are some starting points:

Mental Health Coverage - Insurance Questions and Concerns

If you have health insurance, you should call them and get answers to the following questions:

Choosing the Right Kind of NYC Therapist

What do you choose: Therapist vs. Psychotherapist? Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist? MSW vs. PsyD vs. PhD vs. MFC? here are many different types of therapists that provide excellent psychotherapy services. Some of the credentials are:

What type of therapy should you seek?

It's a good idea to read up a little on different types of therapy. There are many, and often their methods and principles overlap. For example, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is touted to be uniquely effective, yet many of its principles (e.g., analyzing behaviors and learning healthier ways of responding) are well known and common to other forms of therapy. Here's a short summary of different types of therapy:

In addition to the different therapeutic approaches there are also various treatment modalities including group therapy, individual (one-on-one) therapy, family therapy, and couples therapy. When you are choosing a therapist you should mention your preference during the initial consultation or session.

Other Considerations When Seeking Therapy

When you start your search for a new therapist make sure to write down at least a few names of therapists who you may think will be a fit. If a therapist is fully booked and cannot take you on as a patient ask them for the name a colleague they recommend. It's important that you get a good initial feeling about them. It should not in any way feel like an unwelcoming process. If this occurs, find another therapist.

Scheduling Initial Consultations

When you have contacted a few therapists and asked about their availability, treatment approach, specialty, and populations they work with you can compare your notes for each one. Schedule an initial consultation, which is often fifteen minutes and free. This will enable you to assess which therapist is the best fit for you.

During the consultation or first sessions, you might ask the potential therapist these questions:

When you start your search for a new therapist the choices can be overwhelming. Make sure to write down at least a few names of therapists who you may think will be a fit. If a therapist is fully booked and cannot take you on as a patient ask them for the name a colleague they recommend. It should not in any way feel like an unwelcoming process. If this occurs, find another therapist.

Preparing for Your First Online Therapy Session

It's normal to feel intimidated or even scared before your first session. A few preparation tips can ease your anxiety and make your session easier:

During the consultation or first sessions, you might ask the potential therapist these questions:

Have you found the right therapist?

During and after your first therapy session, notice how you felt and what you thought. Did you feel they were warm and welcoming? Competent? Did they answer all your questions and explain their approach and general treatment plan? Did they cut the session short or go over? Write down these thoughts for each therapist and compare before you choose a therapist to work with. Contact them and schedule an in-person or online appointment. Fill out paperwork in advance to save time. If your therapist expects you to use a significant amount of your session to fill out paperwork this is a bad sign. A good therapist should be empathic and insightful.

Another important point is that therapy takes time. It can be a slow process of self-realization and growth. Don't expect your therapist to have all the answers or give you some magical advice. They aren't magicians. Be as honest as possible in your sessions and say whatever comes to mind. This can be difficult because the therapeutic relationship and treatment process is not the same as interacting with a friend or colleague. As humans we're not used to saying whatever is on our minds in social situations. Sometimes it may take multiple appointments for you to decide if your therapist is right for you, and that 's ok. You can always leave and switch to another therapist, of which there are plenty in New York! Do not worry about the therapist's feelings.

Crucial first step is to reach an understanding with the patient concerning what his or her symptoms are and what symptom relief would consist of. This task is often not easy to accomplish. Sometimes the work needed to answer this question, in itself, brings significant therapeutic benefit.

A patient will only feel themselves to have an authoritative voice in the treatment relationship if he analyst invites it. also, a patient will only be truly candid if the analyst is willing to be equally candid.

No matter how much conviction analyst inpatient together develop about these insights, if the insights are not accompanied by demonstrable symptom relief, their validity must be questioned.

Sometimes you'll feel worse before you feel better.

If you're going to work through difficult feelings and emotions therapy may make you feel temporarily worse. This is okay and it's part of the process of recognizing unconscious or disavowed traumas, negative experiences, and scary emotions. A good psychotherapist will patiently work with you through these difficult revelations and memories. Ultimately it will result in healing, strengthening of your self esteem, and greater happiness.

The therapeutic process can involve repeatedly talking about the same emotions or experiences. This is normal. It is called "working through." Just like learning a new sport, you must put in the work to get better. Some people feel better in weeks, some take months, and some people need years. It all depends on your particular mental health issue and severity. For a broad range of disorders and categorizations you can look at the DSM V Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). Overall though, you should experience a reduction in your symptoms at some point.

Insights are important, but no matter how much conviction the therapist and patient together develop about these insights, if the insights are not accompanied by demonstrable symptom relief, their validity must be questioned.

If you are seeking therapy I encourage you reach out. I am a NYC therapist near you however I serve all of New York State. I offer a free consultation. I can help you feel more calm, sure of yourself in the world, and ultimately happier in your life and relationships.

Some National and NYC-based Mental Health Resources:

National Resource Center on ADHD (NRC)
National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advance Directives
Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation
PsychCentral
NYC Therapy - Health & Hospitals
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The International Society for the Study of Dissociation
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline General Mental Health Sites
Wing of Madness Depression Guide
Sidran Institute Disorder Related Sites
The West Side Speaking & Social Anxiety Clinic
NYC Therapy Well