A Guide to Finding a Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

You are ready to start the hunt to find a therapist in LA County but are wondering “How do I Find a Therapist” in such a big area? LA seems to have more therapists than Starbucks (and we all know Starbucks is everywhere!). In large areas like Los Angeles there are thousands of therapists and it can get really overwhelming and confusing when you are trying to find one. You may have even tried in the past, but given up because there are TOO many choices. I’d like to help you find a therapist that can help you!
Different kinds of therapists:

Let’s start off by looking at the different categories of “therapists”

Marriage and Family Therapist: Hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling. LMFT’s cannot prescribe medication. It is a common misconception that LMFT’s only work with couples and families. LMFT’s work with children, teens, adults, couples, and families dealing with various issues. LMFT’s primarily engage in talk-therapy.

Social Worker: Hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work. LCSW’s cannot prescribe medication. LCSW’s work with children, teens, adults, couples, and families dealing with various issues and primarily utilize talk-therapy. LCSW’s are also able to provide case management.

Professional Clinical Counselor: Hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Focuses on individuals and uses talk therapy.

Psychologist: Hold a Doctorate Degree (PsyD or Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Psychologists work with children, teens, adults, couples, and families dealing with various issues and primarily utilize talk-therapy.

Psychiatrist: Hold a Medical Degree and are medical doctors who can prescribe medication for mental health issues. Some psychiatrists are available for in-person talk therapy.

What are the issues that you want help with in therapy?

Zone in on what you are seeking therapy for

Sometimes it is very clear why you are seeking therapy but at other times, it can be very difficult to find the words to identify what you are struggling with. Getting somewhat of an idea can help you narrow your search. For example, your search could look like:

  • Therapy for Anxiety
  • Counseling for Anxiety Attacks
  • Therapy for Grief and Loss
  • Counseling for Depression
  • Marriage Counseling
  • How are you going to pay for therapy?
  • Are you going to use Insurance or pay privately?


Therapy can be expensive but it is a professional service. Some insurances do cover mental health. If you would like to use your insurance, you need to find out what your mental health benefits are from your insurance company.

For some insurances, you may be able to use Out-of-network benefits. Some questions for your insurance provider that may be helpful for you before you start psychotherapy:

  • Does my plan include “out-of-network” coverage for mental health?
  • Is there an annual deductible for out-of-network mental health benefits?
  • Is there a limit on the number of sessions my plan will cover per year?
  • Is there a limit on out of pocket expenses per year?
  • What is my co-insurance percentage for mental health services?
  • Does my plan require pre-authorization for psychotherapy?
  • Does your plan require a referral for psychotherapy?

Learn more on how to navigate your out-of-network benefits here.

Out of pocket/private pay

Many therapists in private practice do not take insurance and either take cash, check, or credit cards.

If paying for a full-fee therapist is outside of your budget, research some low-fee/sliding scale community centers that offer affordable therapy.

One thing to keep in mind when using insurance is that it does require your therapist to “diagnose” you. Some therapists do not participate in taking insurance, due to this requirement.
How to find a therapist:

Now that you are clear on how much you can afford to spend, how you are going to pay for therapy, and what you are seeking therapy for, you are ready to start your search. Some suggestions to find a good therapist are:

  • Ask friends or family that are in therapy if they have any recommendations
  • Ask your primary care doctor for recommendations
  • Ask other alternative healers (massage therapist, chiropractor, yoga instructor, etc) you work with for suggestions
  • Search Therapist Directories (Psychology Today, Good Therapy, etc)
  • Google Search (Anxiety Therapist in Laguna Hills, CA, Therapy for OCD near Laguna Niguel, CA, Depression Counseling Orange County, CA etc.)

Explore what theoretical orientation you feel comfortable with

Even though, it really comes down to the relationship between the therapist and client that is more important than theoretical orientation, years of experience, where the therapist went to school, etc.

Once you have found a few therapists you look like they could be a good fit, make sure you research them. Check out their website, blogs, videos, etc.

Book an Initial Consultation

Most therapists offer a free 15-minute consultation to make sure they can help you, you can ask them questions, and they can tell you more about their services and how they work.

You can talk to a few therapists so you can pick the one that feels like the best fit for you.

Next, you are ready to book your first session

Keep in mind that sometimes it may take meeting a few therapists before you find the right one that feels like a good fit. If you try a few and they do not work out, do not give up! The right therapist is out there, you just have to keep trying.

Author picture

Hi, I’m Arati Patel, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a passion for helping individuals heal, feel calm, and move towards wholeness. I have specialized interests in working with anxiety, stress, fear, self-doubt, first generation issues, cultural stress, and identity issues. I currently have a private practice in Los Angeles, CA.

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