How to Get Help When Therapy Isn't Enough With Personal Development Coach Mike Bayer

mike bayer

Verywell / Julie Bang

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Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Episode Transcript

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

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Welcome to the Verywell Mind podcast. I’m Amy Morin, editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind. I’m also a psychotherapist and a bestselling author of 5 books on mental strength, including my newest book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do Workbook.

Every Monday I introduce you to a mentally strong person  whose story and mental strength tips can inspire you to think, feel, and do your best in life.  

And the fun part is, we record the show from a sailboat in the FL Keys.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite platform so you can get mental strength tips delivered to you every week.

Now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Have you ever worried that one hour of therapy wouldn’t be enough to help you feel better? Or, have you ever worried that your loved one with a mental health issue or substance abuse problem needs more than just therapy? Is going to a hospital or rehab center the only option?

There are actually a lot of different levels of care, as we call it in the therapy world. But for some reason, you don’t hear much about the in-between levels.

You may have heard of someone getting admitted to a psychiatric hospital or going to rehab or you may have heard of someone who goes to see a therapist. But those are only two levels of treatment.

In between those extremes, are what we call partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs.

A partial hospitalization program offers several hours of treatment every day but then, unlike an inpatient program, people go home at night. An intensive outpatient program offers several hours of treatment several days per week as well but not quite as many hours of treatment as a partial hospitalization program.

Some people go to these programs to get help with mental health issues like depression or anxiety or substance abuse issues. 

Here to explain more about different levels of treatment is personal development coach Mike Bayer. He’s a New York Times bestselling author and the founder and CEO of CAST Centers Treatment Center. You might recognize him from the Dr. Phil show where he was a regularly featured expert. 

Mike is in recovery himself and his mission is to help other people who are struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse problems. 

Some of the things he talks about today are how to find quality help when you need it, how to pay for treatment for yourself or a loved one, and what to avoid when you’re looking to get professional help.

Make sure to stick around until the end of the episode for the therapist’s take. It’s the part of the show where I’ll give you my take on Mike’s strategies and share how you can apply them to your own life.

So here’s Mike Bayer on how to get help when therapy isn’t enough.

Amy Morin: Mike Bayer, welcome to the Verywell Mind Podcast.

Mike Bayer: Amy, thanks for having me.

Amy Morin: So, it's really exciting today for people who aren't watching the video, they're just listening, for them to know that you're actually here in-person. We always tell all of our guests, "Hey, come down to the sailboat in the Florida Keys and we'll record." But most people are like, "Ah, I can't do that." But here you are, you came down to-

Mike Bayer: I'm here.

Amy Morin: Marathon and you're doing this in-person with us on a boat.

Mike Bayer: And I'm shocked that this boat's not moving. It's so still. I had this false belief that doing this on a boat meant we were going to be rocking the whole time.

Amy Morin: Fortunately, we're not, because I actually get seasick. So if we were rocking and rolling, you wouldn't want to be talking to me right now. But one of the things I wanted to talk to you about today is mental health treatment. There's so many options available. Most people don't know they exist. So when it comes to saying like, [inaudible 00:00:46] talk to a therapist, you go to residential treatment, most people think those are the only two options, but you've made it clear that there's even more options than that.

Mike Bayer: Yeah, outpatient treatment works and outpatient treatment means getting more than therapy per week. So outpatient can mean getting nine hours of therapy, including group, or it could be up to 30 hours, which would be called a PHP program. And IOP and residential have the same success rates. There's no difference in terms of going away to get well versus getting well in your hometown.

Amy Morin: Which I think is a huge misconception. People think you have to go away and like that's the real treatment. Maybe if you're struggling a little bit, you see a therapist. If you're struggling a lot, you go to residential treatment. But that's not necessarily the case. Right?

Mike Bayer: No, I mean, I think there's a huge gap in between, and an outpatient is the best solution if somebody can do it and doesn't need to be in a contained 24/7 environment. Because if you're able to do it on an outpatient basis, you're navigating life on life's terms and you're navigating everything that's going on that would be a trigger when you left an inpatient and went home. So, it's a really good resource for people who need more, but I do think that in-person outpatient is ideal because connection, relationships, friendships are such a part of getting well.

Amy Morin: And so if somebody comes to your program and it's so many hours per week, we just talk about our feelings, do you teach them skills? What do they get out of it?

Mike Bayer: Yeah, so we have a model. About eight years ago, I just thought treatment was getting lazy, and what I mean by that is everything at most outpatient or even inpatient facilities is process groups. You process what happened last night, you're processing what happened today. Maybe you're getting a specialized therapy throughout the week, but you're basically just processing your life. What we've done is we created what's called the cast alignment model, and it works whether someone's struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction. And so every week is a different theme. So one week is about meaning and purpose. So whether you're struggling with depression or addiction, redefining what meaning and purpose looks like for your life, and you do process some of what's going on in your life because it's important, but our goal is to progress, not just talk about what's going on today. So, another week is about your home life. What does it look like today? Work and play. And overall, just creating a really robust evidence-based program that's more than a therapist coming in and going, "What's going on today?"

Amy Morin: And how many weeks do people stay with you?

Mike Bayer: About eight weeks.

Amy Morin: Okay.

Mike Bayer: Yeah. The typical person who stays with us eight weeks, and then they may go down to what's called OP and get a few sessions a week. And then we have a, once someone goes through our program, they're in our for life alumni group that's online every Monday so that they always can plug back in and be connected with us.

Amy Morin: And for our listeners who don't know, there's intensive outpatient programs. It's got to be in all 50 states these days.

Mike Bayer: There is.

Amy Morin: There's plenty of them, right?

Mike Bayer: Yeah.

Amy Morin: But why do you think it is we don't hear about this? When I come across people who find out that that's even available, most people are like, "Really?"

Mike Bayer: I think funding. So I think these inpatient programs, they charge a lot more. They are the ones who have commercials on TV. Or you have more of the telehealth, which is dominating TV today, or podcasts, because that's where the funding is. So outpatients don't cost as much. They're more affordable. They're not trying to get clients for 70,000 a month that some of these inpatient programs charge. And I don't think a lot of people want, in the treatment industry, people to know that outpatient has the same success as inpatient. And the reality is, that's why insurance companies now are paying less and less for inpatient treatment. Because if you think about it, if you can get well in your own home while your spouse is there, while your kids are there, navigating that, staying sober or working through your mental health issues, you're going to have a much better prognosis than having to go away. Coming back, it's a shock.

Amy Morin: Right. I would think so.

Mike Bayer: I mean, I remember when I went to inpatient the first time we left the campus and went to an outside AA meeting, I felt like I was on another island. I just hadn't interacted with the world in several weeks, and so outpatient is a great solution for someone that's stuck and knows they need more than just therapy.

Amy Morin: And how can somebody make sure they're finding a quality one? Because what I always hear from people, whether they're looking for residential treatment or they're looking for something, is they'll like, they'll say, "Well, the admissions counselor will tell you anything to get you through the door, and they'll promise you things that maybe aren't necessarily true, and you show up and it's not exactly what you thought you were signing up for." How do you find quality treatment?

Mike Bayer: Well, you're right. The admissions or directors are marketers. It's sales. Sales on the front end, right? Now, a lot of people are in this industry because they want to help people, but that person on the front end typically is sales. Some things you want to ask, you could ask, are, "Can I speak to other families who have gone through? Can I speak to other clients who have gone through? Do you have anyone that I could speak to?" If they just go, "No, we have HIPAA, that violates," something's a little off because, for example, if someone called our facility, we could refer them to numerous families and patients that would gladly talk to them and probably even visit them while they're in the outpatient. So that's one question. Another, I wouldn't necessarily go by reviews. The problem with reviews is that, in today's world, Google requires you to put your name, so a lot of people don't want to put that they were in mental health treatment. And you may get some bad reviews that just are people who have no problem with that and they're just ... Have you ever gone on Yelp and you see some of the reviews and you're like, "How'd this place get five stars"?

Amy Morin: Right. Right.

Mike Bayer: But then that really gourmet place is three, because someone's measuring how great a place is based upon the customer service, nothing with the food, or what have you. So I think that finding out if they have full-time staff is important for an outpatient, and what I mean by that is full-time therapists mean that there's someone always there. Part-time means they just come in and run a group and leave, so there's no staffing really. The good news is you can go and then leave. You can try it out for two days, and likely your insurance will pay for you to go to another place. And something to keep in mind, I'll often hear people go like, "Therapy doesn't work for me," or, "Treatment doesn't work for her or him." It's just bogus. That makes no sense. It's the same thing as bringing in a personal trainer for your body.

Amy Morin: So do you think when people say, "Treatment doesn't work for me," or, "Therapy doesn't work for me," is it because they're not open to change or they haven't found the right person? Why do you think that is?

Mike Bayer: Well, I think chemistry dictates everything. And if you're doing therapy or wanting to change, it requires you to feel safe and work with someone that can really help you. And so some people don't want to change. Some people want someone else to do it for them. And some people have gone to bad therapists. There's a lot of bad therapy out there.

Amy Morin: And I think the research is pretty clear that it doesn't really matter what the treatment modality is that the therapists use, it's more like your relationship. If you trust your therapist, you'll probably get better, as opposed to if you think, "Oh, my therapist doesn't listen to me," or, "This person doesn't understand." They could be really skilled, but if you feel that way walking in their office, you're probably not going to get any better.

Mike Bayer: Yeah, and understanding for yourself, do you need to go in an office or do you need to do it online? We're told that somehow this online world of therapy is the most magical life-saving modality, but there's no research around it.

Amy Morin: Right. Yeah, because I encounter some people who are like, "It's cool because I don't have to drive to the therapist's office and it saves me time." But other people are like, "I'm sitting in my living room. I don't want to start talking about my childhood trauma while I'm sitting on my couch. I want my couch to be a safe place where I don't have to talk about that stuff."

Mike Bayer: Right. Well, and I think it's also, the therapists, in my opinion ... I mean, I sound a little jaded. I've been doing this for 20 years, so this sounds a little jaded, but I think some therapists are lazy and I don't think the therapists are looking for the best interest of their clients, and I think a lot of therapists, since COVID, have said, "Oh, I do it online," and they're charging the same rate that they were charging when they had an office. Well, they're overheads lower, they should be charging lower. And then also, there's no evidence to support that they're getting results for their clients. So, I just think it's like convenience for also the therapist, and sometimes it really helps for a therapist to push their clients and get them in and eyeball them and give them a hug.

Amy Morin: Right.

Mike Bayer: Give them a hug when they're crying, hold their hand when they're talking about something, that stuff's so important to healing.

Amy Morin: Right. I've heard people say like, "I was talking to an online therapist and there were family members walking around in the background and I thought, well, how private is this?" Or, I had tested for Verywell, I tested a whole bunch of online therapy sites, and I was talking to a therapist on video chat, and I'm pretty confident he was checking his email while he was talking to me, and I was like, "This is incredible. And not to say that doesn't happen in-person, because I think plenty of people go to see a therapist in-person and they feel like they're not heard, but there's something different, I think, about online therapy sometimes where you feel like you're an anonymous person who doesn't really get to know the therapist and they don't get to know you.

Mike Bayer: Yeah, and I think to your point and your question at the beginning, I think a lot of people don't realize their insurance is going to pay for outpatient and it's going to boost them so much quicker than just going to therapy once a week. I mean, there's no comparison. I mean, it's like you working out nine to 10 hours a week versus one hour. You're going to get your mental health more sound much quicker. And I think a lot of people don't realize that, and they can do it while they're at home or around the corner, and all 50 states have outpatient treatment, and there's a lot of great outpatient treatment out there.

Amy Morin: How has treatment changed, either since you used it yourself back in the day or since you've opened CAST Centers, how's treatment changed over the years?

Mike Bayer: Well, treatment used to be very private. So when insurance, insurance was paying for treatment, then insurance decided they're not paying for treatment at all. Then insurance kicks back in. We talk about the 30-day model of inpatient. Well, a lot of that was created because of insurance companies saying, "This is how much we're going to pay for." So a lot of the industry has been reliant on these insurance companies, and it's really interesting because a lot of people think they have great insurance today, but for mental health, it's nothing.

Amy Morin: Right.

Mike Bayer: Right? Like nothing. So also I think there's a lot more modalities of treatment. I think there's a lot more options. Before, when you were an alcoholic or drug addict, it was 12 step model, this is the only way, this is the way you're going to stay sober. You're going to go to AA, you're going to go to meetings, you're going to do that. Whereas now, there's a lot more types of therapy that are like, okay, maybe that was a symptom of what's going on. Maybe there's some more underlying issues. Things are a lot more dual diagnosis today. I think therapists are better equipped for complex issues. I think that there's a lot more specialized treatment today. You can really find what you're looking for. If you want a women's place that works with sexual abuse, you can find a place that does that, and there's a lot of places throughout the country. And also, you have a lot of these workshops and retreat facilities that keep popping up, and so that's really impacted the treatment industry because before it used to be, "Don't ask, don't tell," kind of privacy, people were ashamed to talk about it. It was such a big deal if someone was a drug addict. And in today's world, everyone knows someone who's in recovery.

Amy Morin: Sure. And how do people find the right level of care? So I think sometimes people get overwhelmed. They're like, "I don't know what I need." There's so many different kinds of therapy, so many different levels of care. Do you find that people come to you because they're stepping down from, say, a residential facility, or they're stepping up because therapy didn't work, or did they start with an intensive program?

Mike Bayer: Yeah, to one point, the danger that is going on right now is if you go on Google and you go, "Drug treatment near me," and Google's done a better job, more than likely you're going to end up at a call center. And the call center says that they specialize in placing people throughout the country who are struggling with their addiction, and ironically, a lot of these places traditionally in the past were in Florida, these call centers. And really, what they were doing was just referring to their own facilities. They have no invested interest in figuring out other facilities outside their network. And so if you ever call a place and they're a call center, hang up. Also, even with CAST Centers, the facility that I founded, we'll constantly be getting these call centers that they're buying pay-per-clicks to show up for CAST Centers. So again, people are calling thinking they're speaking to CAST Centers, and they're getting a call center. And so you really have to make sure you're ... and unfortunately, we're dealing with vulnerable adults who are in desperation. And when people are in desperation, they're kind of looking for a sign, so it only takes a quick conversation when somebody's in a really crisis state of mind, but making sure you're actually calling the facility online is important.

Amy Morin: How do you do that? You call, and then how do you make sure that that's who you're talking to?

Mike Bayer: Well, you could say, "Am I speaking to CAST Centers?"

Amy Morin: Okay.

Mike Bayer: "Am I speaking to so-and-so on the website?" Or I mean, if you really try, you'll figure it out. It's just a lot of people end up with these call centers, and that's where I'm saying the funding is. So these are people who their budgets are a $100,000 to $150,000 a month on pay-per-click on Google. Well, outpatients can't compete with these treatment centers across the country that are just buying up turns.

Amy Morin: Right.

Mike Bayer: And that's why also the treatment industry for a long time has gotten a bad rap about being fraudulent or taking people's money. I mean, most of the people are, really, their heart and integrity's in the right place, but the outliers dominate the internet.

Amy Morin: That's the thing, and it used to be commercials on TV. Right? You'd see these luxury rehab places that had all the TV commercials that clearly charging a lot of money, and then I think the Internet's taken over that, that if you do, you Google, "Treatment near me, therapy near me, rehab near me," all the things that come up at first are going to be ads.

Mike Bayer: And I used to think different ... Luxury rehab is silly, to me, and I've sent people to the most prestigious, incredible places. It's unnecessary. Think about it. Somebody is struggling with being an alcoholic dad and has a few kids and issues with their wife, and what we're looking at is sending them to a place in Malibu for $90,000 a month where they can bring their laptop, bring their computer, do everything they want to do. It's just, it's unnecessary. It doesn't-

Amy Morin: Why do you think those have become so popular or that those are become sort of like our mindset of that's the end goals? If, gosh, if you have a lot of money or you had enough money, you could get better.

Mike Bayer: Because people don't want to get uncomfortable.

Amy Morin: Yeah.

Mike Bayer: And people want to take the easier or softer way. But no matter what you do, you're always going to hit that point where it's so painful and you got to confront your feelings. So you can go to a very expensive place where you're getting a massage in between therapy. That's not going to make a difference with you looking at whether or not you're showing up for your kids or whether or not you're being faithful to your wife. But a lot of those places spin dry. You'll get people who go to some of these facilities in Malibu five, six times and they'll keep taking them back. We had a woman who was going to our outpatient, and she had gone through a program in Malibu five times, the same program. They just keep taking her, billing her insurance. I'm sounding really jaded on this podcast, and I just think it's more like these are the warnings of what's out there and you just got to make sure that you really do your research.

Amy Morin: Right. Because I hear you, because I feel that way too. I hear from so many people who say, "I thought this was it. I finally went to this place, or I tried to get help here and it wasn't helpful." And then they get jaded because they think that's what mental health treatment is, or they decide it must not work, or somebody finally saves up, I mean, they're dipping into their retirement account to send a loved one to get help, and then they're like, "There was a spa and they got a massage, but they didn't necessarily learn skills while they were there."

Mike Bayer: Yeah, I had someone who recently I met, I do jiu-jitsu, and I was in a tournament, and he came up to me and he recognized me from the Dr. Phil Show and he said, "I'm on your text messages and I've read your books." And he had a son that was struggling with his mental health, and he reached out to me and I responded, and I got on the phone with him and his wife, and he said, "Look, if I need to take out a mortgage on my home, I'll do whatever it takes. I want to send him to CAST Centers. I want him to go there, even if it doesn't take our insurance." I said, "Do not take out a mortgage on your home. Why would you take out a mortgage? You have insurance. Let's find somewhere that maybe is in network with the provider," because this is a long process. Helping people change is not a 30-day anything. It's not a 60. It's you got to be in a solid, contained, really structured mindset for a good six months. But if he would've called the call center, he would've been taken out his retirement or a mortgage, and so you don't have to do that today.

Amy Morin: And that's what I hear a lot of is just desperate people who, obviously worried about their loved ones, it's a life or death issue if they have an addiction or even if they have a serious mental health issue, so they're like, go to ends of the earth to say, "I need to save them," but then they send them away for 30 days and the person doesn't come back "saved".

Mike Bayer: I've seen so many people waste money sending people to treatment. So many people. And I think if you don't have the money, there's so many resources out there today. Even we have a resource where if someone lives in the city of West Hollywood and we don't have someone in the spot, they get free treatment, PHP, but no one would ever know. You have to do a little bit of digging or research, and there's so many resources out there and government funding, so it surprises me when people ... But the challenge again is they're talking to someone on the front end. Whenever someone says, "This is the best program," the best program doesn't exist. Maybe there's the best institute for treating cancer, but addiction is so complex and it has so many variables that there's no best program.

Amy Morin: I agree. And that what works for one person isn't going to work. It's like we know, and there's the whole gamut. Sometimes people say, "AA saved me." Other people are like, "I went to three AA meetings. It was horrible, but what actually worked for me was medication."

Mike Bayer: Right. Or some people find God, or some people figure ... But I just think it's, obviously it should have a good reputation, but the reputation should be quality care, integrity, good track record, results, but taking out a lot of money to pay for someone to go to treatment, I don't know why you would if you can't afford it.

Amy Morin: So somebody's listening, maybe they're in a really dark place and they're like, "Okay, but I don't even know what I need. Do I need residential? Do I need this intensive program? Do I just need an hour week of therapy?" How do they decide or is it not up to them to decide?

Mike Bayer: No, that's a great question. I think the good thing to do is start off calling an outpatient clinic, an outpatient center, and talking to someone there, because a lot of outpatients, you may get therapy there, or you could get nine hours of group a week. So getting really ... You could talk to your therapist about it, but I think a good starting spot is calling ... You Google, "Outpatient treatment center near me," and-

Amy Morin: Right, a good therapist will do an assessment and then they'll help you figure it out, right?

Mike Bayer: Correct. Yeah. A good therapist is going to help you figure it out. It's just a lot of people don't have a therapist, and they don't know where to start, and mental health is this weird thing where you're in a moment of crises, but tomorrow you think everything's okay.

Amy Morin: Yes.

Mike Bayer: And so there's kind of a window of desperation and then the cycle returns without some form of an intervention.

Amy Morin: That's just, yeah, so many people will say, "When I'm depressed, I feel like there's no hope, so I don't necessarily want to get treatment," or, "When my anxiety's really high, I think either I need treatment right now or treatment's not going to work, so I won't bother," and it's depending on where they are in those ups and downs of saying, and then sometimes treatment's not available, there's a wait list. And then by the time people get to the top of the wait list, they might not still be in that mode where they want to get help.

Mike Bayer: Yeah. Yeah. And also I think if someone is feeling stuck in their life, and this could be that they're a hundred pounds overweight, there's signs and symptoms like terrible sleep, not eating, not having good self-care, like bathing, hygiene, lack of interest in things, engaging in behaviors that are just causing self-sabotage, feeling suicidal, feeling hopeless. These are all symptoms that one should look towards help because the help's there, and the whole point of getting well is raising your own bottom. Because bottom, it does get worse. And we, based upon the families we grew up in, we believe that we can just do it ourselves and we should be able to change, or if you see what you see on Instagram where you should just repost an inspirational quote and somehow that's going to get you out of the bind. Sometimes you need medication. I think we all, like I go to therapy every now and then. Last year I went to therapy a lot. I went through a breakup, was feeling really depressed. So it's like, get some help.

Amy Morin: Right. Right, yeah. I always tell people too, it doesn't matter where you are on the spectrum, any given moment in time, we can all benefit from having somebody to talk to at one point or another.

Mike Bayer: Yeah, and I think the other differentiators in-patient is if you need detox.

Amy Morin: Yup.

Mike Bayer: It's scenarios where you just, you have to go away.

Amy Morin: Right.

Mike Bayer: But I think that for anyone listening, it's kind of ... And there's so much voice around like, "Go to therapy, get help, go to therapy, get help," and I sometimes wonder how effective that is when somebody's in a very dark place, and sometimes I think the best solution is calling that friend and talking to them and telling them what's going on in your brain.

Amy Morin: Right.

Mike Bayer: Talking to a friend is going to put you at less of a risk than trying to find a therapist when you're in a dark place.

Amy Morin: I agree. There's lots of other things we can do when we're struggling.

Mike Bayer: Yeah.

Amy Morin: All right. One last question for you. What is the best piece of mental health advice you've ever received from anyone?

Mike Bayer: Oh, God. The best piece of mental health advice that I have received from anyone. Oh, my God, what a question.

Amy Morin: Tough, right?

Mike Bayer: What the heck do people say normally?

Amy Morin: So sometimes people will say it's be where your feet are so you can be present in the moment, or somebody else will say something about talking to a friend.

Mike Bayer: Yeah.

Amy Morin: I don't know.

Mike Bayer: Yeah. The best mental health advice. Mental health is interesting because it's like when you're really struggling or just in general, right?

Amy Morin: Right, right.

Mike Bayer: Because there's just such a range, right? I think the best mental health advice that I've had is keep it simple and do the basics. Sleep, eat well, sweat is a great simple way to get back on track and not over-complicate getting well.

Amy Morin: I love it. Absolutely. Mike Bayer, thank you for being on the Verywell Mind Podcast.

Mike Bayer: Thanks, Amy.

The Therapist's Take

Welcome to the therapist’s take. 

This is the part of the show where I’ll break down Mike’s strategies and share how you can apply them to your own life. Here are three of Mike’s strategies that I highly recommend.

#1 - Research your treatment options

Treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all. That’s good and bad news. The good part about it means that you have options. The bad part is, there are sometimes so many options that it feels overwhelming and people give up because it feels like there are too many choices.

If the treatment is for you, get a trusted friend or loved one to help you if you can. It can feel overwhelming and confusing and you might be tempted to give up. Having someone assist you can be really helpful.

The last thing you want to do when you’re experiencing depression or a substance abuse issue is to have to spend hours looking for something that might work for you–whether it’s a free support group, residential treatment or online therapy. 

If you’re a regular listener of the show, you’ve heard past guests talk about what’s worked for them. Surfer Kelly Slater goes to couples therapy with his girlfriend. Retired NFL player Reggie Walker went to a residential treatment center for his mental health. Singer Bryan Abrams went to several inpatient rehab centers before finding one that worked for his eating disorder and substance abuse issues. On the other hand, actor Richie Stephens said AA worked for him.

So there are a lot of factors to consider–might you feel better getting online treatment while being in the comfort of your own home? Do you need the structure of a residential facility so you can reset your habits and be away from unhealthy temptations? Could an intensive program that you attend in-person every day really jumpstart the changes you want to make? Those are just a few things to consider as you begin to look into your options.

#2 - Contact several potential treatment centers.

Whether you’re looking for help for you or a loved one, it’s important to have options. The last thing you want is to finally be ready for treatment only to discover that the place you want to go doesn’t have any openings right now or that they don’t accept your insurance.

Call around to several treatment centers or clinics and talk to them. Ask questions. I liked Mike’s advice to ask if you’re talking to the actual clinic or if you’re just talking to a call center who gets paid to refer you to a certainly place. And ask to talk to people who have been through the program or their families.

A great strategy is to create a list of potential treatment options. If you have a loved one who you think needs treatment, this is a great idea–regardless of whether they’re interested in getting help right now. If your loved one is potentially interested, don’t insist they get help. Instead, you might give them the list and tell them you’ve looked into some options if they want to learn more about each option, they can look them up online or call for themselves. People are more likely to get help when they feel like it’s their choice–not because you’re demanding they get help.

Most treatment centers–whether it’s an outpatient clinic or a residential center–are more than happy to describe their services over the phone and answer your questions.

And as Mike pointed out, there are a lot of treatment centers who pay a lot of money for advertisements on TV or online. But, just because someone advertises a lot, doesn’t mean they are the best place to go.

In fact, when you research treatment options, you might find that some of them make claims like 95% success rate. Keep in mind though that claims of a high success rate don’t mean anything. How are they defining success? They might just be surveying patients before they leave and asking do you feel better than when you arrived? If people say yes, they call it success. It doesn’t mean people are doing better six months or a year later. 

Be on the lookout for places that look more like a spa than a treatment center. Some facilities will claim that they offer holistic wellness but there’s no evidence that massages or having a personal chef is linked to any long-term outcomes.

If you want to learn more about how to find effective treatment–especially rehab–check out a book called Inside Rehab by Ann Fletcher. It’s filled with some eye opening information about the rehab industry.

And if you’re looking for help for a loved one with a substance use disorder, check out the website Allies in Recovery. It’s a membership site that offers tons of information about what to do if someone you love has a substance use disorder.

#3 - Look into funding options.

Mike says there are lots of options to pay for treatment–and I agree. But you might need to ask.

If you have insurance, that’s the place to start. Call your insurance company and ask what your benefits cover. They may give you some confusing information about coinsurance, deductibles, and co-pays but don’t be afraid to ask exactly what that would mean.

When you contact a treatment center, most of them can tell you how much you’d need to pay based on your insurance too.

If you don’t have insurance or you have a really high deductible, ask the treatment center about your options. They may have a reduced rate for people who don’t have insurance or even scholarships for people who can’t afford to pay.

But remember, there’s more than one path to treatment. So if you can’t afford the treatment center you were hoping to attend, don’t give up or convince yourself you can’t get help. There are tons of lower cost or even free resources out there.

Even if you think something like AA isn’t a good option for you, if you attend a few meetings (which are free of charge), you might learn about other resources that are also free or low cost. You can also find plenty of free support groups online, like the app Monument offers free online support groups for people who want to stop drinking and they’re run by a therapist. Or you might join a free group for mental health too. Just a couple of episodes ago we talked to Jewel who has launched a free platform called Innerworld where people can get peer support. 

So don’t give up just because treatment sounds expensive. 

So those are 3 of Mike’s tips that I highly recommend: research your treatment options, talk to treatment centers and ask questions, and look into funding options.

To learn more about Mike, check out his website or his treatment center at


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Thank you for hanging out with me today and listening to the VW Mind podcast.

And as always, a big thank you to my show’s producer, who set up the podcast studio to record this episode in person, Nick Valentin.

By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.