Have you ever moved to a new city and had to face the prospect of finding a therapist out of the hundreds of local listings?

The prospect is daunting but there is a way to avoid the uncertainty and chaos that often accompanies trying to locate a therapist that can help you get the very best care. It always helps to ask around and get referrals from people who know the “lay of the land.”

The problem with being new in town is that you often don’t have a very extensive personal or professional network. What to do? Experts say you should contact people in the area who know the therapy market and have been involved in health care for a while.

Here are four effective ways to get the job done, whether you’re looking in San Jose, Miami Beach or Phoenix for a therapist who can help you.

1. Get a Provider List from Your Insurer

You always want to make sure that your new therapist accepts the type of insurance coverage you already have.

There’s no sense in gathering dozens of names of people who, in the end, will not be able to treat you. Begin by phoning your insurance provider to get a complete, updated list of all the local therapists on their plan.

2. Contact a Local Clinic

In some cities, this is the fastest and best way to find a therapist who can help you. Receptionists at the big clinics tend to know at least a half-dozen names of active, competent therapists who deal with the special kind of treatment you need.

Always say why you’re calling and never be afraid to phone several different clinics to collect names for your list. You can get good results with this same strategy if you also contact behavioral health hospitals in your new city.

That’s because people who work the main desks at psychiatric facilities typically know a number of different therapists in all the major specialties. The names you get from this process are some of the best “leads” in your search for a new therapist.

3. Call Insurance Carriers

Check with some of the local branches of major insurance carriers. Some will have lists of local therapists that they give out as referrals.

Explain your situation carefully in order to get matched up with therapists who have experience in the specialty area you need help with. Feel free to call several carriers, not just your own.

It’s common for therapists to accept multiple kinds of insurance coverage. Just be sure that a therapist you select accepts your coverage.

4. Contact Local Universities

Try to get in touch with one of the staff members of a local university’s medical school. If you tell them exactly why you’re calling, they can usually put you in touch with a faculty member who knows a lot of local therapists.

This is a smart way to gather a few names for your short list because therapists who have strong relationships with local med schools are often quite active in the profession and possess high levels of diverse skills.