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  • Writer's pictureAMP Therapy Center

My OBGYN Recommended Counseling, Now What?

Imagine this scenario: You are either pregnant or newly postpartum and having been feeling "off" or "different" or maybe just "not yourself." You are not really sure what's going on or why you are feeling this way. You go to your next OBGYN appointment and when they ask you, "How are you feeling?" or "How are things going?" you try your best to explain what's been going on, even though you still don't even really know what's going on. The appointment goes on. If you are postpartum, you probably will fill out the EPDS 10 question assessment at some point during the appointment. It comes to the end of the appointment and your OBGYN mentions talking to someone might be helpful, or recommends mental health counseling. You politely take the referral list or nod your head when they mention this, and leave the appointment. You get to your car, make it home, and start to process the whole appointment. "Therapy?? Is something wrong with me?? I don't want to hurt myself or my baby?? I hope she doesn't think I'm crazy. What even is counseling?? What are they going to do? Are THEY going to think I'm losing it?? Are they going to make me take medications?? I can just handle this on my own. I'll just keep quiet, push through, I'm sure it'll go away eventually. I'm not feeling THAT bad."

Can you relate? Or possibly to something similar? I'd love to debunk those scary thoughts, normalize perinatal mental health distress, and encourage seeking support through counseling.

"After my first appointment I already started to feel better, just knowing my therapist was on MY support team and was there to help me. There was still plenty of work to do each session, but I felt a weight lifted just knowing I had professional help in place."

Mental Health Counseling Journey & What To Expect

First I want to say, seeking professional help does not make you less than. It does not make you a bad mom, or mean you are weak. It is also not a selfish choice. Instead…it’s the opposite. It takes a lot of strength and courage to ask for help and be vulnerable. By making sure YOU are well, you are making sure YOUR baby's mom is well. That's not selfish! Now, figuring out what type of provider you are looking for is also important to understand, so that you can know what to expect with their services. Finding the right provider is an important part of your healing journey. If you don't feel comfortable, connected, or emotionally safe with a provider, keep looking.

Difference between Psychologist, Psychiatrist, and Psychotherapist

It's easy to confuse these three professions and what types of services they offer. While there is often some overlap, generally speaking, a psychologist is going to evaluate and assess you for a diagnosis; a psychiatrist is going to prescribe you medications for that diagnosis (if warranted); and a psychotherapist is going to be your counselor to help you process, cope, and work through symptoms of that diagnosis or other mental health distress. A specific diagnosis is not always necessary and neither is medication. It's important to feel empowered to be in control of your healing journey. This is also why choosing the right provider is SO important, that way you feel confident in the treatment plan that is the best fit for you.

Paying for Services

There are a few different ways to pay for services depending on what that specific provider accepts. You may here the terms: Out of Network Provider, Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Employee Assistance Program (EAP), In Network with [Cigna, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc.]. An out of network provider means that sessions are not covered up front by insurance. Depending on your insurance plan and policy, you may be entitled to reimbursement for counseling services paid out of pocket. You can see if you have out-of-network coverage by logging into the insurance company website or by calling the number on the back of your card. Typically, insurance providers who offer reimbursement for counseling services, DO require a diagnosis on file, same for using your insurance with in network providers. Many counselors who are out of network with insurance, will be able to accept HSA/FSA cards as a form of payment for the fees paid out of pocket. And the EAP option will be something offered to you through your company so you can typically check to see what's offered through your benefits or talking with a HR representative at your job if you are an employee with benefits.

Initial Consultation & Next Steps

Okay, now you have figured out what TYPE of provider you are looking for; what you are comfortable with as far as how you will pay for services and at least understanding your options; now, it's time to take that first step and start looking for the counselor that will be the right fit. The internet and Google are our best friend so begin searching around and take advantage of your support system: friends, family, coworkers, and even medical providers. You might get some creditable referrals or recommendations from those who love you and care about you most. Send a message, make the phone call, and take care of your wellness now, so that you won't be forced to take care of an illness later! Set up a few different free consultations to ensure you choose the provider that is the right fit for you. Remember, if you don't feel comfortable, connected, and emotionally safe with a provider, keep looking. It is one of the most important aspects of your healing journey. After you make the choice to move forward with a counselor, you will set up an intake session so the counselor can gather all necessary background information to develop a individualized treatment plan based on YOUR needs and YOUR symptoms and YOUR goals and YOUR values. After the intake session and treatment plan is developed, you will start working to meet those goals and get yourself closer to your values, feeling like the person you want to be, and deserve to be!

"You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help you will be well." - Postpartum Support International

My OBGYN recommended counseling, here's what to do next!

  1. Ask your OBGYN for a list of referrals OR search the PSI Directory or Psychology Today to find a counselor who specializes in perinatal mental health

  2. Call your insurance to see what mental health benefits you have, including HSA/FSA and Out of Network benefits. Many mental health providers who are out of network with your insurance will accept HSA/FSA cards as a form of payment, and many insurance providers offer reimbursement for mental health counseling that is paid out of pocket.

  3. Set up a free consultation with a few different therapists. Deciding to go to counseling takes a huge step of courage. Therefore, connecting with your counselor and feeling comfortable sharing your heart must be a top priority.

  4. Choose a counselor that is the right fit for YOU and set up the first intake session. You'll be one step closer towards healing.


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