5 Tips For Finding The Right Therapist
Are you interested in starting therapy but you just don’t know where to start when it comes to finding a therapist? Or have you had less-than-helpful experiences in prior attempts at therapy and you’re hesitant to try again? I’ve got bad news and good news for you. The bad news is that there is no one therapist for everyone. The good news is that I’m going to share with you five tips for finding the right therapist for YOU!
1. Start by identifying what is it that you want from therapy. What are your goals? Why are you seeking therapy now? Probably the most important consideration when searching for a new therapist is figuring out what you want to gain from therapy. You may have multiple reasons; that’s not uncommon. Do you want support dealing with stress or to develop coping skills to manage depression or anxiety? Perhaps you need help working through a specific problem or adjusting to a recent life-change. Identify your goals ahead of time. This will help you not only find the “right” therapist but will help make your therapy more productive.
2. Be specific. No one therapist specializes in everything so once you’ve identified your goals, you’ll want to find a provider who is a specialist in that area. Be as specific as possible. If, for example, you began experiencing depression after giving birth, you’ll want to seek out a therapist who specializes, not just in depression but, in post-partum depression. If you’re recently divorced and you need help adjusting to that life-change, there are therapists for whom that is their niche. It’s both appropriate and to your benefit to ask potential therapists whether they have specific training and/or experience working with people who have difficulties similar to your own. Think about it, when you have a specific medical problem, you seek a specialist. The same goes for mental health.
Additionally, mental health is shaped by our race, cultural beliefs, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, and other important aspects of our identity. Representation and inclusion matter and this may be something you want to consider when searching for a therapist. Finding a therapist who understands you is important. That does not necessarily mean that they have to be just like you, look just like you, or love just like you. Instead, look for someone who strives for cultural competence.
3. Consider the practical questions. You’ll want to know if they accept your insurance or what their rates are. Does their schedule work with your scheduling needs? Do you need someone with evening or weekend availability? Do you need someone who can see you immediately? Are ample accessible parking spots or restrooms important to you? Are you receptive to telehealth? If so, this will open up your search of providers to your entire state or more. Create a list of these practical questions before starting your search.
4. Style and personality matter. What’s their general style or “therapeutic orientation?” In other words, how do they “do” therapy? If you’ve had therapy before, what type of therapeutic approach worked or didn’t work for you? Do you prefer a therapist who’s highly interactive? Someone direct? Or someone who spends more time listening? Do you favor a personality that is more of a quiet, chill type or someone energetic and dynamic? No approach is right or wrong but because the relationship is the most important component of effective therapy, this is a significant consideration.
5. Be prepared to shop around. While you may find the right therapist for you on the first attempt, it’s possible that you may not. Trying more than one therapist isn’t unusual and isn’t a poor reflection on you. Don’t feel obligated to continue with a therapist that isn’t the right fit. Be patient with the process; don’t give up.
Therapy is an invaluable investment in your mental health and finding the right therapist for you is worth the effort and will be lifechanging. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Stick with it even though it will be uncomfortable at times, after all, change and growth always are, but you’re worth it!
Author: Dr. Beverly J. Pedroche