Seeing a therapist without a referral, is that possible?

Perhaps you would like to see a therapist, but would rather not take your story to your doctor for a referral first. Can you see a therapist directly, without a referral? Yes, you can. You can get psychological care both with and without a referral. Both options do have different advantages and disadvantages.

Therapy without a referral

If you go to a therapist who doesn’t require a referral, you can often get there quickly and bypass the sometimes long waiting lists. At The Online Therapists, for example, you can statrt therapy without a referral within a few days. The big disadvantage is that the psychological care in this case is not reimbursed. The referral is the ‘proof’ for your health insurance that a doctor considers psychological help to be medically necessary. This necessity ensures that the therapist is reimbursed.

For minor psychological complaints, no referral is necessary, the doctor or practice support person can treat these himself. This treatment is also simply reimbursed. If you received a referral from your general practitioner less than a year ago or you have already started with the treatment of your complaints, you do not need to request the referral again. You can then also go directly to a therapist.

When is a referral necessary?

You cannot see a psychiatrist without a referral from a family doctor. This is because a psychiatrist treats complex psychological complaints and may prescribe medication in addition to his or her psychological treatment. For serious problems, a referral is therefore necessary.

Furthermore, it is financially wise to request a referral if you expect the treatment to last longer. You do have to pay at your own risk before therapy is reimbursed; a short treatment of a few sessions is therefore better paid for out of your own pocket. Longer programs are, after deducting your deductible, fully covered. With a referral you are eligible for this.

Do I need a referral for The Online Therapists?

Online therapy is not yet reimbursed. Therefore, you do not need a referral for online treatment with one of our therapists. The advantage of this is that we have no waiting list and you can start therapy immediately. Also, we are not bound by certain protocols or contracts with general practitioners and health insurers, so that we can tailor the treatment entirely to your needs.


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    Therapist vs. psychiatrist, what’s the difference?

    Both therapists and psychiatrists treat mental health problems or disorders. But what exactly is the difference between the two? Which should you turn to, when and how do they work? This article describes the main differences.

    What is a therapist?

    The title ‘therapist’ is a general title and a kind of collective term for all kinds of therapists. Cognitive behavioral therapists are also often referred to by the term ‘therapist’. Each ‘type’ of therapist has a specific, university education and may specialize in a particular field.

    Therapists treat mental health problems related to thoughts and emotions, and they usually do so using cognitive behavioral therapy and various interview techniques. To give a few examples:

    • Cognitive behavioral therapist: deals with behavioral problems, whether or not they are the result of obstructive thought patterns.
    • Relationship therapist: helps solve and prevent relationship problems in couples.
    • Occupational or organizational therapist: works at companies and organizations on the productivity and job satisfaction of employees.
    • School therapist: provides support to both teachers and students.
    • Rehabilitation therapist: guides patients during a rehabilitation process – often in collaboration with a social worker, the attending physician and the nurses involved.
    • Applied therapist: uses scientific knowledge to solve or investigate general or social problems, or trends related to behavior.

    What is a psychiatrist?

    A psychiatrist, unlike a therapist, is a medical doctor. A psychiatrist has therefore initially studied medicine and then specialized to become a psychiatrist. The advanced training for psychiatrist also includes training as a psychotherapist. A psychiatrist is therefore officially registered as a doctor, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist. A psychiatrist can work in three fields:

    • Child and youth psychiatry
    • Adult psychiatry
    • Geriatric psychiatry

    Because of his or her medical background, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication. This usually occurs only when complex mental health problems or disorders are present, such as in patients with personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, bipolar disorders, or psychoses. A psychiatrist also looks at mental health more from a medical perspective, focusing on the health of the whole body and the link between physical and mental health. You always need a referral (from a therapist) to see a psychiatrist.

    Therapists and psychiatrists

    When you seek help for psychological symptoms, you usually end up with a therapist in the first instance. If this therapist thinks it would be wise to add medication to the treatment, he or she will refer you to a psychiatrist. In many cases, it comes down to the psychiatrist being responsible for the medical part of the treatment, and the therapist for the psychological part.

    At The Online Therapists, there are different kinds of therapists and a psychiatrist. This allows us to offer you customized care.


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