Pasadena is a diverse city with many young working professionals, thousands of college students, and a great balance of couples, families, and retirees. As a result, if you’re trying to find a therapist in Pasadena, you’ll likely encounter therapists with a variety of backgrounds that are qualified to work with a wide array of life challenges.
While that’s a plus for the most part, it can also be a little overwhelming at the onset of a search for the right therapist - that's why we have gone ahead and researched therapy options in Pasadena to help guide you through the process step-by-step.
1. Find a Therapist You Can Afford
Therapy can come with a rather large price tag in the Los Angeles area at first glance! Pasadena, however, is actually one of the more affordable areas to seek therapy, averaging around $150 per session. Fortunately, if cost is a large factor in your therapist search, there are ways to lower the price of sessions even further.
If you’re able to find a therapist who is in-network with your insurance, that will be the best money saver. Depending on the size of your deductible, you may end up paying only a $50 copay for sessions.
If your insurance is a PPO, you may also have access to impressive out-of-network benefits, which can be helpful if you’re struggling to find an in-network therapy option that’s right for you. Out-of-network benefits can sometimes pay as much as 80% of the cost of therapy!
Sliding scale and other options
Sometimes, unfortunately, insurance is not an option. A multitude of therapists choose not to work with insurance because of low reimbursement rates or limited coverage without a clinical diagnosis. If you run into difficulties finding a therapist who accepts your insurance - or if you don’t have access to health insurance with mental health coverage - your next step is to look for someone who offers a sliding scale. Therapists with a sliding scale are able to adjust or “slide” their fees based on clients’ ability to pay.
If making ends meet is still a challenge even after researching those options, nonprofit organizations frequently offer discounted or even free mental health resources, particularly for certain marginalized groups, such as veterans, LGBTQ-identifying individuals, and minorities.
2. Choose a therapist who can address your area of need
People seek the help of a therapist for a wide variety of mental health challenges - some concerns are quite common while others are less so. If you’re dealing with depression, stress, anxiety, or relationship issues, you’ll likely find that many therapists are trained and qualified to work with you. If, however, your condition is more niche or complex, it’s vital that you seek out a therapist who specializes in that area.
Challenges that warrant specialized treatment include (but aren’t limited to):
Aside from what a therapist can treat, there’s also how a therapist approaches treatment. While most therapists use some form of talk therapy, some may subscribe to additional more or less common methods. Finding what’s right for you may require some reflection on your part:
- Are you able to express yourself well verbally?
- Do you enjoy expressing yourself artistically?
- Do you need help living in the moment?
- How extensively have you already talked about your situation or concerns?
The answers to these questions can help direct your choices. Some common therapeutic approaches and counseling theories you may come across in your search include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)- A skills-based approach, CBT aims to help you identify the connections between things that happen to you (or around you) and your reactions to them, with the ultimate goal of changing your reactions and behaviors to more healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms.
- Holistic Therapy- You’ll address mind, body, and spiritual health in holistic therapy, which may involve talking, yoga, meditation, and engaging with your surroundings. Holistic therapy is an excellent choice if you experience anxiety or could simply use a peaceful space.
- Creative Therapy- Creative therapy utilizes visual art, music, movement, or drama/theater to help in expression, discovery, and engagement with your emotions. Creative therapy can be a great choice for those who have difficulty expressing their emotions verbally.
- Psychodynamic Therapy- Psychodynamic therapy may be very appropriate for you if your present situation is likely connected to past events or your upbringing as a child. In this type of therapy, you’ll dig back into the past to better understand your present.
3. Personality Matters.
For there to be significant progress in therapy, you and your therapist have to work together. This is what is referred to as the therapeutic alliance. The establishment of a therapeutic alliance may depend heavily on the personality compatibility you have with your therapist (and vice versa!).
So, how do you learn about a therapist’s personality before you actually meet? The internet definitely helps. Explore the therapist’s web page and see what you can find about the therapist on other sites (like Zencare!). Therapists may also have a social media presence and looking at their posts can give you some insight into their practice.
Furthermore, you should call a therapist before making an appointment. During that initial phone call, take the opportunity to ask questions and have your questions answered. Make a mental note of the therapist’s general demeanor. It could be very telling as to your compatibility!
It’s important that you consider what’s specifically important to YOU. If your identity rests largely on a particular aspect of your life, like your ethnicity or cultural background, you may feel most understood if you work with a therapist who shares your background or has at least a deep knowledge of it.
Pasadena has a richly diverse population of Hispanic, Black, and Asian backgrounds -- however, finding a provider who’s a person of color can be difficult. If you do run into difficulty with that, try expanding your search to nearby Los Angeles areas and/or searching for a therapist who specializes in race & cultural identity.
4. Be Sure the Logistics Will Work For You
If the timing or the location of therapy sessions is a problem for you, success in therapy may be doomed from the start. Your mindset and mood will likely be affected if you’re sitting on the freeway for an hour each direction leading to or from therapy. Furthermore, if you frequently have to cancel sessions because of scheduling conflicts, progress will be hindered.
Many therapists’ offices in Pasadena are clustered close to Old Pasadena, along Colorado Boulevard, or off the Arroyo Parkway. If you live or work near these areas, it may be relatively easy for you to find a therapist close by. Another option is finding a therapist with an office that is convenient to get to via the Pasadena Transit bus or Metro Rail. Even if there is a commute, the simplicity of not having to drive and fight the traffic may be a weight off your shoulders and a good time of rest for you.
Therapy sessions are typically about an hour long, give or take ten minutes. When you consider that time, plus any commute time, plan potential appointment time options that fit into your and your family’s schedule. Once your schedule is established, don’t push therapy to the side to make room for something else. Your mental health is important! Try to find a weekly convenient time for you, such as during a lunch hour, right after work, or during a time when you can line up child care
Also keep in mind that this is a wonderful time for seeking online therapy. There are great, secure ways to have productive sessions without being in the same room as your therapist. Just be certain that your therapist is licensed by the State of California, as that is a requirement for them to practice online therapy there.
5. Assess After the First Session
While we’d love to tell you that the search is over once you go to your first therapy session, that isn’t quite accurate. Even the best therapists “on paper" can sometimes wind up not being the best fit for you. After you’ve attended several sessions, do some assessing and ask yourself questions, such as:
- Do I feel like I can be honest with my therapist?
- Do his/her habits distract me from therapy?
- Am I learning anything new about myself and my life?
- Are the goals we set in-line with what I want for myself?
- Am I making progress toward my goals?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” we encourage you to discuss it with your therapist. It could improve your therapeutic relationship as you move forward, or the result of the conversation could help you decide it’s best to work with someone else. And that’s okay! A good therapist welcomes honest conversations and wants you to make progress in therapy - they should be able to give you referrals to other potential therapists. There are always choices.