People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

Let me sum up.

I’m trying to find new therapists – a clinical psychologist for myself and a family therapist for Jacob, Abbie, and me to see together. I hate making the calls.

The calls to find a family therapist are easy enough. Teenagers and difficult relationships go together like Rep. John Boehner and public weeping so I don’t usually have to offer much by way of explanation. “We’re having some communication issues and need help with that,” usually does the trick.

Making calls to find a therapist for me, though, is a whole different kettle of fish. Clinical psychologist’s receptionist answers the phone, “Hello, Dr. So-and-so’s office. How may I help you?”

“Hi, I’d like to make an appointment. I’ve never seen Dr. So-and-so before.”

“Alright. And what can Dr. So-and-so help you with?”

“I have some personal and family problems. Also some mental health issues.”

“Ma’am, I need more information so Dr. So-and-so can decide if she is the right provider for you.”

“Alright, well, I have a long, dark history of depression including one suicide attempt and multiple hospitalizations and I hardly got off my couch all last fall and early winter plus I have acute anxiety and I have had trichotillomania for over 30 years plus my youngest son is seriously mentally ill and my two teenaged children moved away and I’m devastated by their absence and stuck in my regret and shame over the ways I have screwed up the raising of them and full of fear that they don’t have adequate supervision at their dad’s house plus I’m worried that they’ll never forgive me which keeps me awake at night and I’m also afraid that their anger at me is really hurting them bad and also I have ADHD but only the inattentive type so that’s no big deal except that it’s ruining my life and my grandma is dying in slow motion and my guilt about not spending more time with her is chewing away at my internal organs and my relationships with my parents and my sister are really complicated and difficult so we don’t talk much and I don’t have very many friends because I had two who tried to take over my life and I hated that so I dumped them because I don’t want to talk to anyone several times a day except my husband and I had to quit my job to care for my youngest son so we’re always broke which is not so good for the anxiety plus I have this problem with eating too much to deal with my feelings which will be kind of obvious if you ever meet me and I can’t sleep at night and most of the time, I hate everyone so I don’t leave the house much and only talk to people on the computer because that means I can push a button and make them go away instead of like in real life where I have to stab people in their legs with my specially designed leg-stabbing-pickle fork to get them to leave me alone but the only person I really hate is me and I know I should stop but I can’t so I need some help and by the way, to you take Blue Cross?”

Which is not, of course, what I actually say, but really, my life and its issues are not especially easy to sum up. Plus, some of the receptionists seem to think that everyone who calls them should know exactly the information they need, which might be true except that every mental health care provider thinks that different things are important.

Starting every encounter with a potential mental health care provider by being shamed for not knowing the right way to answer the questions? Not entirely productive.

The right therapists are out there. I just wish the finding part was a little easier.

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14 comments to Let me sum up.

  • I am all, all too familiar with this. (Though for me right now looking for a therapist is more about finding someone who won’t tell me [breastfeeding for 2+ years, cosleeping until my kids are ready to move on, not letting them cry it out, declining to use physical or psychological punishment as “discipline”, etc] is 1. the cause of or 2. caused by my mood disorder and 3. either way a Big Big Mistake Ruining My and My Children’s Lives. Plus trying to find a med-doc to line up just in case I go cuckoo again postpartum who will respect all those things, not tell me to wean “for my mental wellbeing” or because ze’s too lazy to look up breastfeeding-compatible drugs, and doesn’t label me noncompliant for not currently being on meds and planning on getting off them again, if they’re needed at all, as soon as I can. Add in phone anxiety, and… yeah. There are reasons I’m currently practitioner-less.)

    Anyway. Been there, hated that. My sympathies.

    • Oh, yes, finding providers who can support/help/guide without letting their own biases get too much in the way is a huge challenge. I don’t want someone to tell me how to live my life. I want someone to help me along the process of creating the life that’s right for me and my family, with all its challenges.

  • This makes me want to go hug my therapist. Except that she might look at me askew.
    The right person is out there. I hope you find him/her soon. Sending those hopes your way.

  • Do you have an extra one of those handy specially designed leg-stabbing-pickle forks? Because I just can’t find a good one here in NYC.

    So sorry it’s so hard, yet again. I have had the same therapist for 23 years – can you believe it? Can’t imagine finding a new one at this point. I hope the right one finds her way to you soon.

    Also I’ve been wondering how many other blogging women have ADD and insomnia (like you and me) because it seems like it’s a hell of a lot of us… maybe there’s a connection.

    Anyway, my main message is, again, love to you. (And, my cyber-friend, I will never try to take over your life, just support you in all things.)

  • Ya. Boy. Do I know.

    I guess I just go with the well, gee, I am kind of unsatisfied with my lot right now and am having some issues with my feelings. I would like to work on some new coping mechanisms and could sure use some guidance … and I follow it with my best biggest goofiest Like Me? smile. The big stuff I keep behind my back.

  • Adrienne

    I started seeing a therapist last summer and spent the first eight sessions just explaining all of the background info.

    Then the funding ran out from the EAP and I had to go to someone else that my regular insurance would only pay part of and:


    with all the history and crap

    so frustrating.


    I think having to retell everything and give history is TRAUMATIZING


    Today I am feeling a bit stabby.

    SO anyway, I get what you are saying here.

    exhaustion just to consider starting over AGAIN

    hang in there

  • Maybe you should just provide the URL to this blog post to any and all prospective therapists?

    I had to laugh at AmyLynn’s comment (and cry a little too) because you’re right, its so complicated once we reach this stage…how we got here, how all of these various things impact our life. In a way its like doing triage…what’s the BIGGEST problem I have and can they help me with that?

    I just realized last week that I need to find a new therapist because mine is far more a conservative Christian than she let on, and her disapproval of my liberal heathen Follower-of-Jesus stance and sleeping with my boyfriend is patently obvious. Sigh. And I know that what happened to AmyLynn will totally be what happens to me and I dont want to even call the EAP and get the ball rolling. Makes me exhausted to contemplate it.

  • bad

    I’m so lucky to have found, that has a referral service to match you with a therapist, even ones that work on a sliding scale. And because they’re a feminist org, I have this incredible feminist therapist that I just adore. SHe’s changed my life.

    Good luck, Adrienne.

  • I’m proud of you for picking up the phone and calling. Because it sucks so bad to do. And then to sit and wait for the first dreaded appointment. Not canceling it is almost as hard as making the initial phone call.


  • this is seriously why it took me so long to find a second therapist. we have a ppo, so we have to find one that is “in network”, but they don’t publish a list of in network mental health care because…? no one really knows. privacy or something, but i have no idea how it helps MY privacy to keep the approved therapists a big fat secret. And if you ASK them if they are in your network? They have no idea.

    It is so awful.

    Thank GOD for the GP referral.

  • I’m with Varda…I need one of those leg-stabbing pickle forks too! Do they come in a set of 4 maybe? That way I can strap one onto each limb to really keep all the BS and crappy people away?

  • Seems like therapists are getting a bit of a bad rap here. Most of us are NOT conservative Christians, nor judgmental. I don’t have someone else screen my patients. I ask for a one sentence problem description just to make sure it’s not something I’d do better to refer out to *and that’s rare). I know what panels I’m on. EAPs are for the benefit of the insurance company, not generally for the patient and never for the therapist. And you can’t blame the therapist for crappy insurance benefits. On the bright side, those of us in private practice have far worse insurance benefits than most of our patients.

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