One of the main reasons people do not stick with therapy is a failure to find a connection with their therapist. Luckily, the internet has made it a lot easier. By doing your research and vetting, the chances of you finding a therapist you get along with are much higher.
Spend some time thinking about what your goals and motivations for therapy are. What do you want to work on or change? What problems or issues do want to address? If you don’t know, that’s okay! You’re off to a great start in recognizing that you need help. If you are dealing with a specific issue such as anxiety or an eating disorder, you might want to find a therapist who specializes in that specific mental health condition.
Search engines like HelpPro or Psychology Today’s therapist finder are great tools for finding a provider. You can search by city, zip, or name and filter by a wide range of criteria. Filter by specific issue, insurance, sexuality, gender and more. Each provider has their own profile where you can read more about them and their practice. Spend time looking through their profiles, writing down ones that resonate with you. Look for key words and issues that you identify with. Hear directly from therapists as they write about themselves and their practice. Find qualifications, specialties, treatment approach, client focus, issues, and financial information as well as contact information all on their page.
Ask your friends and family who are in therapy, it can be comforting to know they have already had a good experience with them. If they like their therapist, there is a chance you will too. Your insurance company may also have tools to help you find service providers on their website. If you are student, your school might have a counseling center on campus.
After making a list of three to five potential therapists, start making some phone calls. Most therapists will do a 15-20-minute phone interview so you can see if they are a good fit. Be sure and ask questions. Ask about any information you didn’t see on the website such as insurance and payment information, their qualifications, approach to helping and anything else that you are interested in. This initial consultation will give you a taste of how the therapist interacts with clients. You can ask them if they have ever worked on the specific issue you would like to address in therapy or if they have worked with a client like you before.
Before heading in for your first appointment you may expect to feel a little nervous and that is normal! If you leave feeling disappointed or if you think it wasn’t what you thought it would be, don’t worry. Keep in mind that it can take some time to warm up to a new therapist, just like it takes some time to open up to a new friend. If after two or three sessions you decide that it’s not a good fit, stop going and move on to the next therapist from your list or start your search again. The important thing to remember is that just because you saw one therapist and didn’t like them, doesn’t mean the right one isn’t out there.
Finding the right therapist is a little like dating. You wouldn’t go on one bad date and give up on dating, would you? So, why try just one therapist and give up on therapy? Chances are your friend who loves their therapist and has a good working relationship with them probably didn’t find them on the first try. Just like your friends in happy, committed relationships, it takes time to find the right person. Like with many things having to do with mental health, finding the right therapist can be a trial and error process.
What worked for you in the past, might not work for you now –and what works for you now, might not work for you in the future. Remember that recovery is a process and is bound to change over time. The therapist and treatment plan you need today, might not look the same down the road. Think about what you are dealing with in the present. While you can’t expect to have a breakthrough every time you walk through the door, you can expect for it to be a process that will over time lead to positive results.
Sometimes just knowing that someone listened to you say it out loud, seems to validate the pain you are going through.