Bipolar Disorder Treatment How to Find a Therapist for Bipolar Disorder Helpful tips to find the right therapist for you By Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP LinkedIn Twitter Jodi Clarke, LPC/MHSP is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She specializes in relationships, anxiety, trauma and grief. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 17, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Getty Images Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a cyclical pattern of extraordinary highs and lows. Many people, if not everyone, can experience some varied level of highs and lows in their mood from time to time. Experiencing this does not mean that you have bipolar disorder. For bipolar disorder to be clinically diagnosed, a specific list of criteria need to be met as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition, Text Revisions, (DSM-V-TR). Finding a Therapist for Bipolar Disorder Living well with bipolar disorder is certainly possible. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that 2.8% of the adult population in the United States is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Finding the right care providers and treatment team can be an integral aspect of your care. A licensed therapist or other mental health provider is a key component to treatment, and it is important to find a provider that will be a good fit for you and your needs. What to Look for in a Therapist For some, finding the right therapist to help with bipolar disorder might feel a bit daunting. There can be several mental health clinicians to choose from, particularly now that most provide telehealth services and can eliminate the need for travel. Some may look like a great fit as you browse their website or read their profile on a list of providers. However, there are some helpful things to consider in your search as you find the clinician right for you. The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy Specialization in Bipolar Disorder One important thing to consider as you look for a therapist is do they specialize in working with bipolar disorder? Some clinicians operate as generalists, meaning that they feel comfortable and confident working with a variety of clients and presenting issues. Of course, someone who is a generalist may be a great fit and offer what you need, but it can be helpful to know how well-versed they are in working with bipolar disorder, specifically. You may also come across providers who state that they have a special interest or training in the area of bipolar disorder. This can offer another level of comfort as they might be more familiar with the client’s day to day challenges and be trained in appropriate, effective treatment interventions for working with bipolar disorder. Types of Therapy Used Most providers offer information in their marketing as to their training background or specific models of counseling or therapy they are trained in. There are many, many wonderful models of therapy and not all would be a good fit for working effectively with bipolar disorder. Some of the key therapy styles or models you may want to look for include: Cognitive behavioral therapy Dialectical behavior therapy Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy Family focused therapy Mindfulness based cognitive therapy Emotionally focused therapy Internal family systems therapy As you research your options of providers online, look for a bio page or an “about me” page. Often therapists will share on a bio page their background, experience and training in certain models of counseling. What Is Therapy for Bipolar Disorder? Availability With the need for mental health services on the rise, you might find that many therapists are currently full and not taking new clients or have an existing waiting list. Be mindful of this as you search and don’t become discouraged. Give yourself time to research people you feel might be a good fit for you and simply ask about their availability. If they are unable to take new clients you can always ask them for a trusted referral of someone who might work well with bipolar disorder. Cost Another consideration is cost for therapy services. Some like to use insurance to help cover the expense of their treatment, while others prefer to pay out of pocket or some who are looking for services for minimal cost or free. Most providers will list their therapy fees on their online listing or website. If you are going through your insurance company, you can often access a list of providers through the insurance website or call and ask them for a list of providers to be mailed to you. What Is a Sliding Scale for Therapy? Location Location of your therapist used to be a key part of narrowing the search. With most mental health providers offering telehealth services this has become less of a barrier to find quality care. As you search for a therapist who treats bipolar disorder, keep in mind that most therapists are only licensed to practice in the state in which they live. It is possible for a therapist to have active licenses in multiple states, just make sure that you are connecting with someone who has an active license to practice within your state. Where to Look for a Therapist Fortunately, there are a variety of convenient places to look for a therapist. Many clients research and connect with mental health providers online, whether through a marketing listing, a practice website or through social media channels. In addition to the more modern methods, it can still be helpful to ask family, friends or your doctor for their recommendations. Online Many mental health providers market their practices and services online. You can browse the internet using key phrases such as, “Therapist for bipolar disorder in (your city)” or something similar and many options will come up. Take time to look through various listings to gather a sense of each clinician’s style, training and overall online presence. You may find as you search that certain therapists stand out to you as a potential good fit. Don’t feel rushed to have to put a list together right away. You may even want to revisit the profile or website of a therapist you like a few times before feeling comfortable to reach out. Ask Family or Friends One of the best ways to learn about trusted providers in the area can be through family and friends. It might surprise you that several people you know have someone in mind who they or a loved one has seen and could recommend. You can share the reason for seeking a therapist or not, as the goal would be to simply gather some trusted leads of therapists that others have already had a good experience with. You can use that information to then do your own research online and go from there if you feel like they would be a good fit for you. Psychiatrist or Primary Care Physician Your primary care doctor, or a psychiatrist if you are already under the care of one, can be a wonderful resource to ask about local therapy resources. Many professionals in or related to the mental health field often network with each other and build trusted professional relationship with one another. Additionally, many psychiatrists offer both medication management and psychotherapy, and often treat people who do not require both. Since your doctor would already be aware of your diagnosis, they would understand your desire to seek therapy and the providers in the area that could be helpful. Give Yourself Options As you search for a therapist for bipolar disorder, make sure to give yourself some options. It can be helpful to make a list of three to five therapists you believe might be a good fit for you. Focusing on only one provider can lead to disappointment quickly if that person is unable to take a new client, doesn’t take your insurance or doesn’t provide telehealth if that is what you are looking for, for example. Connecting With a Therapist Once you have done some research on local providers, the next step is to contact them to find out more information about their services or schedule a time to meet. Reaching out to a provider might seem easy but it can be a vulnerable moment to call a therapist or submit an online inquiry. Celebrate that you took this big step to connect with someone who can help. If you do have an opportunity to connect with a provider, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind. Ask for an Initial Consult Many providers offer a free 15-minute consultation over the phone or in person to see if their services are a good fit. It can also be a great opportunity for potential clients to get a sense of the therapists energy and style. Even if a provider doesn’t advertise that they offer a free consult, you can always ask for one. Most therapists understand how important a good fit is in the treatment process and will be happy to talk with you for a few minutes. Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions If you have the chance to meet with a potential therapist, don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their clinical experience, training and areas of study or interest. In doing so, you can gather important information about how well the therapist understands bipolar disorder and effective treatments and counseling techniques. Notice Their Presence Allow yourself to get a sense of the therapist’s style and presence. Of course therapists are human, so you may find a wide range of styles and personalities among your chosen list of options. What can be helpful when determining a good fit is how well the therapist is listening to your needs and how they are balancing a sense of warmth with their knowledge of the subject. You can gather a sense of this whether sitting in person together, over telehealth or even over the phone. If you feel that the therapist is not a good fit, keep an open mind and continue meeting with others until you connect with someone who is right for you. 4 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Chiang KJ, Tsai JC, Liu D, Lin CH, Chiu HL, Chou KR. Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy in patients with bipolar disorder: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2017 May 4;12(5):e0176849. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176849. Novick DM, Swartz HA. Evidence-based psychotherapies for bipolar disorder. FOC. 2019;17(3):238-248. American Psychological Association. COVID-19 and the psychology workforce. Additional Reading Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Novick DM, Swartz HA. Evidence-based psychotherapies for bipolar disorder. FOC. 2019;17(3):238-248. By Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP Jodi Clarke, LPC/MHSP is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She specializes in relationships, anxiety, trauma and grief. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.