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DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience:  I help people overcome anxiety and enjoy life again.
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Hello, I am looking for a therapist in union city, CA. Since this would be my first therapy sessions, I am not sure how to go about it with finding a good therapist. Can anyone help with how to go about this ? I have never had therapy, though my mother had, but that was back in my home country. I understand its importance as I have seen my mother's condition since childhood, so I believe I might have those issues in me as well, which I want to counter before it gets out of my hands. Thank you and awaiting a response
Hello! Please remember that my response is for information only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.

It’s normal to feel confused and a bit overwhelmed when seeking therapy for the first time. Many people that call me have questions just about the basic structure of therapy, such as how long a psychotherapy session lasts (it depends, although the average is about 45-50 minutes). Others do not know the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist (Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication). So, if the process of therapy seems a bit of a mystery to you, you’re not alone!

Where you can look for therapists:

These days, most of my clients find me on the internet. There are several popular websites to look for therapists:

Psychology Today (PT): This site has a huge directory of many types of therapists. Most therapists post their picture and write a profile that describes how they work, so you can get an immediate first impression of what a therapist might be like. Some of these therapists have an email contact (while others do not) so that you could email some of your initial questions.

Therapy Tribe is another site ( --but I don't have as much experience with this site.

Personal Referral: Some people find a therapist by asking someone they know for a referral. This method can be a good way to find a therapist, because you probably trust the opinion of the person you are asking.


Generally speaking, it costs less to see a therapist-in-training rather than a licensed therapist, however, there are exceptions.

Community counseling centers may offer very low fees or sliding scales (where you pay based on your income), and there maybe licensed professionals at some of those sites. These sites sometimes have a high turnover of therapists (meaning they may be staffed by students who move on to another training site after 6 months to a year).

Some people want to use their insurance to help pay for therapy. This is a valid option, but you need to remember that you will be giving up some of your privacy by using a third party payer. At the very minimum, your insurance company will want a mental health diagnosis. In the “worst” case scenario, they can audit the file that your therapist is keeping about your treatment progress.

You are also giving up some of your own power by using your insurance. If an insurance company is paying for your therapy they can put limits on it, sometimes by dictating who you can see, how many sessions you can have, and sometimes what type of therapy that they will cover.

Some therapists are “fee-for-service,” which means they do not have contracts with any insurance companies and do not bill them for services rendered. However, you can obtain a receipt from your therapist that has all the information on it you would need to submit to your insurance company if you so desire.

Choosing a therapist that is good for you:

Ask questions. You might ask, “What approach do you take to treating people with issues like mine?” The answer should make sense to you based on what you know so far about your struggles, what you've tried, etc.

One of the most important factors in picking a therapist is whether you believe you can form a working relationship with the therapist you are considering. You do not have to feel completely comfortable at first (many people don’t!), but you do need to see some potential for being able to form a relationship. Not every therapist is right for every person, and good therapists are willing to admit that not every potential client is a good match for them.

What is the first session like?

Again, this may vary slightly among therapists, but typically when you arrive you’ll be asked to read and fill out paperwork. Some of this paperwork will address issues of confidentiality and informed consent about therapy. After you read about these issues, most therapists will discuss them with you to ensure that you understand the important information.

Your first session may just be a consultation where you talk a little about why you are seeking therapy and you and the therapist are deciding if and how to work together. Alternatively, your first session might be a more comprehensive intake, where your therapist asks you a lot of questions about your current difficulties and your history. Either way, it is certainly appropriate for you to ask any questions you have about the therapy: the therapist’s expertise, training, and therapeutic approach, as well as office policies.

Overall, remember it is normal to feel anxious when going to see a therapist for the first time. Do not let that stop you from seeking help. Just because you are anxious at the beginning of your first session does not mean that you will stay anxious. In fact, most people calm down significantly within 10 minutes or so of their initial session!

I hope that this helps. If you have a follow up question, please feel free to ask.

Dr. Fee

DrFee, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 437
Experience: I help people overcome anxiety and enjoy life again.
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