How do I choose a Therapist?

In a previous post I was asked:

What do you do in therapy and how do you pick a therapist or counselor? 

My response is usually as follows:

Therapy, also known as counseling, is a chance for you to speak with someone specially trained in listening and helping you with whatever you might be going through right now. The best way to pick a therapist or counselor is to interview a few and decide which one feels like the best fit for you.

For Part 1, click here. 

Now, Part 2 of that question: The best way to pick a therapist or counselor.

We must recognize that not everyone is going to be a good fit for us, both as therapists and as clients. Therefore, the best thing to do is to call around to a few different therapists and decide which one seems to suit your needs the best. 

You might be thinking: But wait, how do I even FIND a counselor to interview?

Well, you do that in a few different ways. If you have health insurance and you believe cost is going to be a hardship for you, your first step might be to call your insurance company to get a list of mental health providers in your area (you can also do this online with most insurances—you would be searching for a mental health provider covered by your plan). However, please note that more and more therapists are moving away from accepting insurance due to the many challenges related to working with insurance. (Click here for post on challenges with insurance.)

After you speak with a few therapists, you might find that one who is not on your insurance might be a better fit for you than someone who is on your insurance and in crunching the numbers, you might find that paying out of pocket for an AMAZING therapist is going to be a much better investment for you. Either way, the basic steps are the same. 

     1. Start asking around. If you are thinking it might be time to see a therapist, start asking family members, friends, colleagues, doctors, or other complimentary medicine providers (ex. massage therapist or acupuncturist) that you trust if they might know of any good therapists. If you don’t trust anyone with this information, that is okay, skip down to Step 2. 

     2. Get on the internet. If you already have some names, either from Insurance referrals or Friend/Family/Other Provider referrals, Google that person and see what you find. If that particular therapist has a website, blog, or articles and you like what they have to say move on to Step 3. If you got your list of names from your insurance company, it might be that the therapist does not have a website, in which case, skip down to Step 3. 

What if you don’t have any names? Well, in that case, Google what it is that you are looking for right now. For example, if you are a woman having a hard time in relationships, you might Google: “women relationships counselor” and your city/state. You might also just Google “therapist” and your zip code, but if you do that, be warned: There are often times tons and tons of therapists to sift through if you don’t add in any specifics. It might be best to look for someone who has a lot of experience in your area of need. 

     3. Call them. If you like what you saw on the internet about a particular therapist you are interested in working with, call them. This gives you an opportunity to speak with the person briefly about your current concerns and see if you connect with that person. It also gives the therapist an opportunity to see if she or he might be a good fit to help you with your current needs. Most therapists offer a free initial consultation to help in this area, so be sure to use it. If you connect, great, move on to Step 4. If not, repeat Steps 2 and 3 with other people on your list.

     4. Schedule an appointment. Once you find a therapist with whom you felt connected on the phone, get on their schedule. Most therapists have busy schedules or limited hours, so be sure to secure your spot with them so that you can start your healing process. 

     5. Be sure to show up for your scheduled appointment. The last step, is to make sure you show up for your scheduled appointment. Everyone’s time is valuable and the therapist you connected with also connected with you and made a commitment to help you. Therefore, respect this commitment and be sure to attend your appointment. If you aren’t able to make it, speak with the therapist and share your concerns. This process might be scary, but you will be glad you did it!

Picking a therapist can be hard. You have admitted that you need help of some sort and are making yourself vulnerable to open yourself up to another human being. That isn’t easy. So, follow the steps above, call around, and choose the person who feels like they understand you and your situation the best and then, be prepared to let the healing begin.

If you are ready to make change, contact us today for your free initial phone consultation: 
408-502-6790.