Mental Health
How To Find A Therapist In New York City

How To Find A Therapist In New York City

6 min read


Caitlin Harper

Life in New York City can be stressful. The cost of living is high, commutes are often long, jobs tend to be high-pressure, and both individuals and the economy are still reeling from COVID-19.

In fact, New Yorkers report stress at levels slightly higher than the national average, citing issues like money, work, and the economy as sources of stress and a lack of time as a main barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes.

With all of the pressures of big-city living, finding a therapist in New York City can be an additional challenge. When you’re so pressed for time, even starting your therapist search can seem daunting, so we’ve pulled together a few tips about how to find a therapist in NYC.

Look for recommendations or use a matchmaking service to find a therapist in New York City

Recommendations or referrals from friends, family, coworkers, or other members of your community can be invaluable when it comes to finding a therapist. If you’re comfortable, ask your friends or peers if they see a therapist or have seen one in the past and see if they can make a recommendation. If you’re part of a community or organization, sometimes they’ll have lists or resources to share about finding LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, or culturally humble therapists.

While recommendations can be a good way to find a therapist, just because a therapist is a great match for your friend or roommate doesn’t mean they’ll be the best fit for you—and when it comes to therapy, fit is super important. That’s where a matchmaking service can come in handy.

For example, MyWellbeing uses a careful matching process to ensure you are paired with the most compatible fit. We consider:

  • Logistical factors like fee, location, and availability
  • Technique (for example, would you benefit more from working with someone who utilizes a concrete, goals-oriented approach, or a more fluid, insight-oriented approach?)
  • Personality factors (such as extroversion, warmth, and directness, etc.)
  • Expertise (ensuring that a therapist specializes in working with relevant issues and demographics)

We then send you three recommendations to significantly reduce choice fatigue, and ensure that you can speak to your provider(s) during complimentary phone consultations so that you have a low-risk way of assessing fit.

Therapy in New York City can be expensive, so think about your budget

We know: therapy can be expensive. The average cost of a therapy session in New York City is $200, which is above the national average.

That being said, therapy is an investment in yourself. And when it comes to taking care of yourself, not going to therapy can be more costly than going to therapy.

Do you know how much you spend on utilities per month? Food? Subscriptions? If you don’t know what you already spend versus what you earn, it can be hard to determine how much more you can spend on something like therapy, but making a budget can help.

Whether you opt for a classic budget, tracking all of your expenses and income, or separate your spending into buckets, taking the time to create a budget can help you reorganize your finances, prioritize spending, and manage debt, thus allowing you to make progress toward your long-term financial goals—like going to therapy.

And if the out-of-pocket cost is still too high, don’t forget to ask your potential therapist if they offer a sliding scale, or a flexible fee based on financial need. Through sliding scales, therapists work with clients to find a rate they can afford.

Be ready to see an out-of-network therapist in NYC

If you’re looking for a therapist, you might think you can find one just like you would find a primary care doctor—by going through your insurance.

But it’s really common for the best therapists not to accept insurance, particularly in cities like New York. Here are a few reasons why mental health practitioners are less likely to take in-network insurance:

  • Before a therapist can be reimbursed in-network, they need to join the insurance company’s panel, which can be tough. The applications require a lot of paperwork, practitioners have to apply to each insurance company separately, and insurance companies don’t always accept therapists’ applications to join their network (this is less a reflection of the quality of the therapist and more likely because the insurance company has closed applications in particular zip codes or areas if they are “over-saturated”).
  • It is hard to earn a living wage as an in-network therapist. The average reimbursement rate is far below the average fee therapists charge. In New York City, the average reimbursement rates for therapists can be less than ⅓ of the average fee.
  • Going in-network gives the insurance company a voice in your care. Your insurance company can stop paying for your treatment if they decide that it isn’t “medically necessary.” They can only pay while you’re “in crisis,” or just cover the first few sessions. Therapists must also provide them with a “diagnosis” and a reason to use specific treatments, and the disorder that they diagnose must also be a covered disorder. If you’re seeking therapy for something that isn’t a diagnosable condition or you’re going to therapy for something like personal growth, using in-network insurance can make finding care more difficult.
  • Seeing an in-network provider may not save you money (and may actually cost more). If your plan has a high deductible, you may have to pay for therapy fully out-of-pocket for weeks or months before your insurance covers any of the costs. Even then, the co-pay can be quite high for in-network insurance.

If you search outside of your insurance company’s network, you will find more therapists who are both available and a good fit for your needs. But while your insurance won’t cover the entire cost of out-of-network care, you can still use your insurance to reduce the cost of therapy with out-of-network benefits, which help you use your insurance to pay for care from therapists who are not in-network with your insurance company. Based on your specific plan, your insurance company may cover a portion of the cost of seeing a therapist who isn’t in-network with your insurance.

When you have a list of potential therapists and you know your budget, it’s time to connect with the therapists on your list

New Yorkers are short on time; we know that! But we don’t want your hard work compiling a list of potential therapists to go to waste. After you have a list of names and have a budget in mind, here are a few things to do to get started:

  • Think about what you want to talk about in therapy. Do you want to talk about work, relationships, family, your future, and/or your past? Do you want to learn how to cope with anxiety or are you wondering if there may be a diagnosis in your future? Start to put language to your thoughts and feelings, either by journaling, jotting down some notes, talking out loud to yourself, or chatting with someone close to you to get a clearer picture of your needs.
  • Set up your free phone consultations. Gaining a sense of your chemistry with your therapist is an important step in choosing which therapist you’d like to move forward with and a complimentary phone consultation is a great way to begin to sense fit.
  • After you’ve chosen a therapist, get ready for your first session. The first therapy session is similar to the first time that you meet anyone new. Even though you had your phone consultation, you’ll most likely spend the first part of your therapy session getting to know one another even more.

For support every step of the way, check out our ultimate guide to starting therapy.

Living in New York City can be tough, but finding a therapist in NYC doesn’t have to be

When life is so fast-paced, finding a therapist can sometimes get pushed to the bottom of your ever-growing to-do list and with New York’s high cost of living, it can seem like care might make too big of a dent in your bank account. But if you’ve been thinking about seeing a therapist, you’re probably ready, so set aside time to find that list of potential therapists, look at your budget and decide how you can make the investment, and set up the initial phone consultations. We promise it’ll be way easier than a visit to Penn Station.

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About the author

Caitlin is an organizational change strategist, advisor, writer, and the founder of Commcoterie, a change management communication consultancy. She helps leaders and the consultants who work with them communicate change for long-lasting impact. Caitlin is a frequent speaker, workshop facilitator, panelist, and podcast guest on topics such as organizational change, internal communication strategy, DEIBA, leadership and learning, management and coaching, women in the workplace, mental health and wellness at work, and company culture. Find out more, including how to work with her, at

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