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Choosing the Right Provider

It is Our Strongest Recommendation That You Choose a Full-Time, Doctoral Level Provider

Insurance companies fill their provider panels with people with minimal credentials that work part time. Those providers get paid less by your insurance company and this increases the profit margin for the insurance company. Meanwhile your cost for seeing whatever person you choose is the same.

Some of these providers have just a year of training beyond college. Most work just a few hours a week and claim to be "specialists" in whatever the category is for the one or two people they are seeing each week (for example, teenage girls with eating issues).

When you see a part time provider with minimal credentials you should keep in mind that they are working just a few hours a week before or after their "real job". Providers who work in such a limited way don't need to get great results in order to keep seeing an occasional new person who happens to come their way.

By contrast, a full-time provider has to have consistently good results to keep a steady flow of satisfied patient referrals coming in every week throughout the year.  Also, with five or more additional years of educational training beyond the minimally trained provider, the doctoral level provider has a whole lot more knowledge and expertise to offer you than the one with minimal credentials.

Are You Looking for a Specialist for Your Problem?

Psychologists don't specialize in the way that physicians do, treating, let's say, a certain kind of cancer that affects a certain part of the body. Psychologists are more like dentists, treating most of the usual problems that people present and referring out for braces or other issues.

Psychologists who work full time  have to have multiple specialties  in order to fill their workday. Certain kinds of patients can only come during certain times of the day so there is a need to see more than one type of problem to have a full time practice. Over time, a full time provider is going to develop many specialties as they build their toolbox of skills through ongoing continuing education training.

If a psychologist is in practice for many years they are going to see every mainstream problem that a person can possibly have. Over time those same problems will be presented over and over again.

A full time provider will eventually come up with solutions to that problem that work for most people. That's what being in full time "practice" means!  As in any other healthcare issue, you want the person who has had the most practice in doing whatever it is that you need.

Finding the Provider with the "Right Fit"

A lot of people "call around" these days to try to find the provider with the "right fit" for them. This probably got started on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Keep in mind that Oprah herself was not interviewing psychologists on the phone but could pay as much as she wanted to see the person of her choice. If it didn't seem to be working with that provider, then she could just  switch to someone else.

Since most people can't afford to schedule (and pay for) appointments with a half a dozen providers in order to finally choose one (like Oprah), she recommended that her audience solicit free telephone interviews with potential providers.  

Although that may sound like a good idea, the reality is that successful providers don't have that much time to answer questions about themselves over the phone because they are busy seeing lots of patients. Think about how you would feel if your therapy session was interrupted by someone seeking to interview your therapist during your session time. In fact, think of how you would feel if any healthcare provider (physician, dentist, etc.) stopped talking to you in the middle of your appointment to give a telephone interview with a prospective new patient?

If you find someone who has endless time to talk about themselves, you should ask yourself why they aren't seeing patients instead of talking to you. Don't be afraid to ask: "How many people do you see a week?" and "How many years of training does it usually take to get your professional degree?" If the therapist that you contacted seems to have just been sitting in an empty office waiting for someone like you to call, that probably isn't good.

The simple truth is that you don't have to look for a provider whose way of interacting or doing things is just like yours. Full time providers become used to fitting  their style and approach to the patient's personality and needs (rather than vice-versa).

Psychologists, like physicians and dentists, have professional skills to bring to your problem and that is what is important.  As long as you do not have an instant dislike of someone then they can probably work perfectly well with you to accomplish your objectives.  You can probably find a psychologist nearby by asking for recommendations from people you know or just by scheduling an office visit to see if that person can help. 

As with any other professional service, choose someone with the highest level of training, the most experience, and someone who works in their professional field on a full time basis.