How to Find a Licensed Psychologist

Depending upon where you live and what you search for, it can be difficult to know how to locate and connect with a licensed psychologist.  As Glenn Livingston, Ph.D. has not accepted new patients into his psychology practice since January 1st, 2017, and  does NOT offer psychological treatment on this website, in his books, nor via any of the Defeat Your Cravings, LLC programs and/or services available through this website, it's important you know how to find an appropriately licensed psychologist should you require treatment.

WHEN TO CONTACT A PSYCHOLOGIST:  There's really no downside to contacting a psychologist for a consultation to determine your needs, but it's particularly important to do so if you struggle with serious overeating episodes, purging, depression, anxiety, thoughts of self-harm and/or harming others, self-deprivation of food, have a Body Mass Index of 18 or less, extreme fear of becoming fat, excessive physical activity, binge eating, denial of hunger, other unusual eating behaviors, and/or have been diagnosed with any disease, disorder, and/or condition.  

HOW TO FIND A LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST:  In the United States there are several resources available to help you locate a licensed psychologist.  One of Dr. Livingston's favorite is the Psychology Today Therapist Finder.  You can search for appropriately licensed therapists in the United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain, Austria, France, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.  You can also search for psychologists by specialty.  In the United States you can also use the National Register of Health Service Psychologists which is particularly stringent in accepting well-credentialed psychologists.    For other countries not available in the links above you might also try the International Therapist Directory but their vetting process is not as clear so you'll have to more carefully screen for appropriate credentials and licensing. 

HOW TO CHOOSE A LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST:  Most people's first question when they consider talking to a psychologist (or any therapist for that matter) is whether that psychologist will take their insurance. If you simply can't afford treatment in any other way then, of course, this is a primary consideration.  However, there are several other factors Dr. Livingston recommends you consider:  (1) Does the psychologist return your initial phone call and spend at least a few minutes with you on the telephone trying to assess and understand your issues without charging you.  (2) Do you feel an empathic connection from the psychologist?  (3) When you ask them "how do you determine when treatment is complete?" the psychologist should have a well thought out answer.  Perhaps it is when, via self-report and the psychologist's judgment, the client has accomplished their well-articulated initial goals, which means the psychologist must regularly go through a process to elicit and articulate their patient's goals to begin with.)  Perhaps when no progress has been made towards these goals for six months or more the psychologist is in the habit of considering another referral for the client.  But what you don't want is a psychologist who says "we'll know it when we feel it."  You want more of an objective answer.   

You can also ask how the psychologist decides when to talk to vs. listen to their clients.  Here too we are looking for more of an objective answer.  For example, perhaps they might say "When my client is providing new information relevant to the problems they are looking to treat AND presented with emotional consistency and no clear signs of significant anxiety or other disturbance, I allow them to keep talking.  However, if they seem to get stuck going round and round on a topic without providing new and relevant information, or if they seem too anxious or emotionally upset, I intervene."  These kinds of objective answers help ensure you don't wind up with someone who "just goes by the seat of their pants" or is entirely feelings based.  

These types of objective, specific answers are also indicative of someone with more training and dedication to the field, though they are not a guarantee.  In most states within the USA, a license to practice psychology is a guarantee of minimum competency, and is obtained separately from (and almost always after) a Master's Degree or Doctoral Degree.  Some psychologists pursue advanced training beyond their Master's or Doctorate, and obtain a Diplomate in psychology, usually with a specialization.  These are the most advanced professionals you will find, and often more expensive than others. 

Regarding payment, if you wish to work with a psychologist whom your insurance will not reimburse and you're not sure if you can afford to pay out of pocket, consider asking the psychologist if your situation would warrant having a session every other week vs weekly.  Often if there is no emergency, less frequent out-of-pocket treatment with a psychologist more well suited to your personal needs may be better than (or at least just as good as) more frequent treatment paid for by your insurance company. However, this does not apply to urgent and/or more serious situations and diagnoses. 

COACHING VS. PSYCHOTHERAPY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT:  The International Coaching Federation ("ICF") offers an excellent resource which delineates key differences between coaching vs. psychotherapy and/or psychological treatment.  It's important to understand in the context of the Defeat Your Cravings, LLC free and/or paid offerings because only coaching is provided as a service by our company, not psychological treatment and/or psychotherapy.  Dr. Livingston agrees with and strongly supports the ICF definition in this quote from the above resource: "
ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching focuses on visioning, success, the present and moving toward the future. Therapy emphasizes psychopathology, emotions and the past to understand the present, and it works more with developing skills for managing emotions or past issues than does coaching."  The ICF also makes available the following one sheet for coaches to determine when to refer a client to a licensed psychologist and/or counselor for psychotherapy .  Although this resource was designed for coaches, it's useful for clients to review it in order to be familiar with the criteria for determining when you should consult with a licensed psychologist and definitely not rely on coaching alone. 

IF YOU NEED HELP URGENTLY:  Most good psychologists will call you back within 24 hours if they are not on vacation, and will usually have someone covering if they are.  That said, most are not set up to respond to truly urgent needs, and it's important you visit your local emergency room if you feel in imminent danger of harming yourself or others.  In the United States you can dial "988" to reach the Suicide Hotline, or text "741741."  The International Association for Suicide Prevention also has a very good helpline finder virtually no matter where you live. For help with other urgent mental health matters please dial "911" or visit your local emergency room.