How to Find a Therapist in Los Angeles: The Ultimate Guide

Looking for a therapist in Los Angeles? Many people start their therapist search on health insurance websites, but find much of the information outdated and inaccurate. In fact, less than one-third of individuals who contact therapists on their health insurance website receive an appointment. In a big city like LA, despite the thousands of therapists to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.

But don’t give up! Knowing what questions to ask, and what resources to use can significantly speed up the therapist search process. Read below for tips on how to find the best therapists in LA.  And when you’re ready, use Zencare’s quality-vetted LA therapist network. It can be challenging to find accurate information online, and Zencare keeps an up to date database of therapists (as well as a free therapist matching service) so you don’t have to sift through outdated information!

1. Look for in-network therapists

Finding a therapist who takes your insurance and/or is within budget is the most constraining factor for many therapy seekers. If you’ve decided to invest in your mental health, we couldn’t be happier for you -- your mental health is worth it! But know that you don’t have to choose between paying your rent or your therapist to afford therapy.

Whenever possible, finding an in-network therapist can make it more affordable to receive therapy. If you see a therapist within your health insurance network, you typically only pay a copay, which ranges from $10-$40 per session. Whether this applies before or after your deductible depends on your specific plan.

Note that certain insurance carriers, such as Kaiser Permanente, only allow you to see one of their Kaiser therapists if you want the session to be covered. For some, this “one-stop-shop” type of care where you have to get all of your physical and mental health services through one place makes life easier. For others, this can feel limiting if you don’t feel your needs are getting met through the choices available. In rare cases, you can get a referral from your Kaiser doctor to see a therapist outside of the Kaiser system. Be prepared to be the squeaky wheel though!

The bottom line: Using your insurance to cover the cost of therapy will limit your options and may cause you to have to wait for an appointment, but is the most affordable option!

2. Use affordable therapy options

While in-network therapy is certainly the most affordable option, the unfortunate reality is that many therapists in LA don’t accept insurance; insurance companies can make billing a nightmare for therapists and generally do not compensate providers enough for them to run a practice.

If you’re struggling to find a therapist who takes your insurance, consider seeing an out-of-network therapist (ie. a therapist who is not part of your insurance network). Here are some ways to make therapy more affordable if you are paying for an out-of-network therapist:

Using the words “therapy” and “affordable” in the same sentence may sound like an oxymoron; however, know that if finding affordable therapy is one of the primary factors you need to consider, options do exist!

3. Consider driving and scheduling

Los Angeles is a large, sprawling city with a multitude of different neighborhoods. Even though this may translate to a larger pool of therapists, location is definitely something to consider when choosing the right therapist for you.

If you live in LA, you know that even though it may look like your route should only take 15 min on google maps, in reality that drive could take upwards of two hours if you get stuck in the wrong LA traffic. When you are searching for a therapist, be mindful of location and try to find someone in your general vicinity. You don’t want to spend half your day getting to your therapy appointment!

Similarly, it’s important to check that your therapist’s availability fits with yours. Some therapists have full caseloads or work part-time, which may limit their windows of availability for you to book appointments. If you find a window of time that works, make sure it’s a time that both you and the therapist can regularly keep.

Struggling to find a therapist nearby whose schedule matches with yours? Most therapists in LA are now offering teletherapy due to the Covid-19 virus, which means you can have online therapy sessions and select from a much wider pool of therapists (you can see any therapist licensed in California).

4. Find a therapist who specializes in the concerns and reasons you’re seeking therapy

If you are looking for the most common therapy concerns of anxiety, depression, stress, or relationship issues, most therapists will be able to support you using different therapy types.

However, therapists receive specialized training in different mental health challenges; in particular, it’s important to find specialists for the following concerns:

If you had concerns about your heart, you would want to see a doctor who specializes in cardiology -- mental health is no different. For some challenges, it’s important to find a therapist who has specialized training in the area of need.

5. Find the right therapy approach for you

Therapists use and are trained in different approaches to treatment. Finding an therapy type that appeals to you can be hugely beneficial in ensuring that the therapist's style jives with what you're comfortable with.

Here are a few common therapy approaches you can choose from:

6. Make sure it’s a great personal fit

Therapists are well aware that they won’t be “the one” for everyone. Spend a little extra time “shopping around” in order to find the right match.

While it’s totally normal to want to get the ball rolling and say “yes” to the first therapist who replies, it’s okay to be selective in your search. Check-in with yourself about what’s most important, about what you value most in a therapist.

7. Continue to assess after your first appointment

Once therapy starts, you should feel comfortable and feel like you are making progress. It’s normal to feel nervous in the beginning, but if you don’t start to feel more comfortable after a few sessions, you and your therapist might not be the right fit for one another. Here is how you can determine if your therapist is “the one.”

If you’re not making progress, it’s okay to let them know and find someone else. Don’t ghost them!

While therapy isn’t an inexpensive endeavor, investing in your mental health can have a ripple effect with long term benefits. You might think of going to therapy as a comparable expense to a gym membership: you’re making an investment in your mental health that will benefit you today and for the rest of your life.

For additional support, fill out our therapist matching form and we’d be happy to assist!