Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I was accepted into the clinic!

So, yeah...

First session next week with a Therapist. Turns out the woman doing my intake (who sort of reminds me of Mrs. Pool or Grace from the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off) made room in her schedule to take me on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So, That Happened

Just back from Intake.

Intake sounds like a term used in prison, and I have to admit I told friends this weekend that I was concerned about actually being TAKEN IN to some sort of mental health center. Like, I accidentally check the wrong box and next thing you know I have a paper cup of sedatives being pushed through slot in the door to my padded cell.

That wasn't the case at all...

I did have to fill out a lot of paperwork (making sure that I didn't check the "admit me" box.) There was a general health form and basic family medical history. I did a checklist about my addictive nature and use of drugs and alcohol. There were also a couple documents to read and sign that were like patient bill of rights and confidentiality agreements.

On a side note...during this process while waiting in the lobby a woman and a teenage girl rushed in and asked to speak to her therapist frantically. Picking up on peices of information from the desk people and the woman...this woman had just run into her daughter she hadn't seen in 4 years on the subway and brought her in to meet her therapist. Turns out her therapist happens to be the woman doing my intake.

Intake ended up being a series of state mandated questions by the New York Office of Mental Health. The therapist was very calm and soothing but not in a ridiculous way. It seems that after 5 minutes with me she realized that I was that unstable and just started leveling with me. "This isn't therapy," she says, "just paperwork." But after being asked a battery of really intense questions about my past and current issues, my family and personal relationships, and why I am seeking therapy...I had to ask..."Are you sure this isn't therapy?"

After the intake she told me that I am, indeed, an ideal candidate for therapy and that she would recommend me to the clinic starting at one session a week. She said she wished that she had room in her schedule to take me on, but that the intake coordinator will look over my paperwork and assign me to a therapist.

So, yeah...that happened.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Picked Up The Phone

So after doing some brief research on what type of therapy is available to me (a somewhat broke uninsured new yorker) I have set up an appointment with a mental health clinic that takes on patients on a sliding scale. I was referred to the clinic by a friend who was referred there by his therapist. He never went, but after finding their site on the internet it seems that their mission and overall specialization fit with what I am looking for.

"_______________, how can I help you?" says them.
"Hi, I was calling to find out about seeing a therapist or um..." says me.
"Hold, please."

Another woman picked up and told me the process. She took down some basic info and told me to fax in tax records, a bank statement, and some basic personal information. For uninsured patients the sliding scale was $50-100. Intake was $50 and seeing a psychiatrist would be $65 per session if I was interested in getting medication.

After I faxed my info, today they called back to tell me that I was eligible to receive the low end of the sliding scale (yeah, broke). They set up my intake appointment for Monday.

What's an intake appointment?!!!?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's The Difference?

So, In going through the long list of therapists available to me here in NYC (I think this must be the therapy capital of the world) I discovered quite an array of titles, acronyms and specialties listed with each person's names.

Here is a rundown of who's who and what's what:

Psychiatrist - a physician who specializes in mental health. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication.

- Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology (PhD PsyD or EdD) and aside from research, therapy, and counseling they can also do psychological testing.

Clinical Social Worker
- Social Workers have a Master's degree in social work (MSW or CSW) along with additional clinical training. They work towards the prevention and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. LCSW have put in extensive postgraduate hours in a clinal setting.

- the truth is anyone can use this title, but most have studied at an accredited Psychoanalytic Institute after receiving an advanced degree in Social Work, Psychiatry or Psychology.

Marriage and Family Therapist
- have a Master's degree and clinical experience in marriage and family therapy

- have received specialized training or an advanced degree and deal with specific problems such as career goals or alcohol and drug addiction.

Psychiatric Nurse
- a registered nurse who has recieved specialized training in the treatment of people with mental disorders and distress.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How To Find A Therapist

So, now what?

I've decided to seek out a therapist, but there are about 3 billion to choose from. What should I be looking for and how will I know what is right?

I don't have insurance, so I am paying out of pocket. I've heard from friends that most therapists work on a sliding scale and are willing to work with you. I have also heard about several mental health clinics and schools in the city that provide services at reduced fees.

If you have insurance it seem that it is best to get the long list of providers from your insurance company - this might involve a phone call. If you have insurance through work, you might want to ask the person handling the benefits these questions. I'd think it would sometimes be uncomfortable to ask friends, coworkers, or acquaintances who they would recommend, but your primary care physician would be a good place to start. I can't imagine going to the same therapist as a friend, but you could ask a friend's therapist for recommendations, as well.

Here are some online search engines for therapists:

Psychology Today Therapist Finder
American Psychological Association Finder
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Finder
Help Starts Here - Social Worker Finder

Monday, September 8, 2008

Authentic, Just Not Happy

I just took a handful of the the tests on the Authentic Happiness Site.

I scored pretty low on the tests you're supposed to score high on, and pretty high on the tests you're supposed to score low on.

Yes, true...I took these tests while sitting in a cubical of a evil e-business and am slightly upset with not only the way that they are treating customers but the amount of money that they are paying me to do their dirty work.

Apparently I am supposed to contact a mental health professional.

Luckily, that is already in my plan.

Maybe you should take the tests too?

I'd recommend...
  • Authentic Happiness Inventory
  • CES-D Questionnaire
  • Fordyce Emotions Questionnaire
  • PANAS Questionnaire
  • General Happiness Scale
  • VIA Signature Strengths

Friday, September 5, 2008

Then Again...Maybe I Should

I was watching a TED Talk on my iPhone on the way home from a horrible temp job in the city today and came to a realization: It's okay that I need therapy.

Sure, it's somewhat cliche...I'm a guy in his late twenties living in Brooklyn with thick plastic framed glasses circa 1977 Woody Allen, commuting from a temp job that is paying my bills between my own creative endeavors, back to my moderately affordable one bedroom in a soon-to-be-gentrified neighborhood...BUT...that's okay.

Everyone can use
therapy...Psychology should be...
"as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent as with healing pathology."
Maybe watch the video and see/hear for yourself...

TED TALK: What Positive Psychology Can Help You Become