How to choose a therapist
Making the decision to start therapy isn’t an easy one, but once you’ve decided it’s time to start it can be a daunting undertaking to figure out where to begin…
Therapy isn’t one size fits all, so it’s important to remember that it may take some trial and error to find the right method and person for you. To that end, I always start therapy with new clients with a story about a class I took in graduate school. The professor began by asking the class “How many of you are here because you have been told that you are great listeners and/or helpers to others?”. (Pretty much everyone in the class raise their hand.) Then the professor asked, “And how many of you believe that will make you the best therapist for your clients?”. Again, most of the class raised their hands (proudly and arrogantly). The professor finished this bit by telling all of us that our ability to succeed as therapists had much less to do with our ability and far more to do with the relationship between client and therapist. Consider it a vibe like there is between friends or relationships: it’s either there or it’s not. Of course, you want a skilled therapist, one that knows what they’re doing and continues to do education and trainings, but you need to feel connected. All that said, if you don’t feel connected after a few sessions, try someone else rather than give up or eventually come to a conclusion that therapy just doesn’t work for you.
Now onto the ways to find a good therapist for you..
This site is like a match.com for finding therapists. The people on this site pay for an ad and create a profile about their practice, themselves, specialties, etc. You can sift through until you find someone you think you’d like to talk to based on their profile. Insurance information is often listed as well as those who charge a flat rate so you can know what to expect.
2. Insurance Website
If you have medical insurance go look at your insurance card. On the back of the car there will be a website that you can log onto and search for “behavioral health provider “. On this page of the website for any of the major health insurance companies, you will find a list of in- network providers and their phone numbers/addresses. (You can also cross reference these people with the psychology today website or even possibly linkedIN if you want to learn more about them before calling.)
Note: MANY therapists do not participate with insurance companies as in-network providers. (I could get on a soap-box for hours about why, but I’ll spare you for now🙄.) If your budget allows, you may want to broaden your search to not limit your options to just the in-network providers.
3 . Personal referrals
Friends, family, and especially your doctor (obgyn, primary, or even your kids’ pediatrician) are great resources! Chances are they have one (or more) names they can give you that they’ve had good experiences with (or even those to avoid). Fortunately, the stigma associated with getting mental healthcare is diminishing, and with that we can start to have more open conversations about our needs, wants, and hopes for getting on the best personal track. Talk!
4. Local Hospitals and Community Centers. Money for healthcare in general Is not always accessible for everyone. That does not mean that mental health care is completely out of reach. If you go to the website for your local hospital you will find therapy that may be covered by Medicaid or charity care, support groups that are free, and links to other community groups. Alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, and Al Anon (for families affected by a family member with addiction) are completely free and around nationwide. (Meeting lists: https://www.aa.org).
My goal today was just to scratch the surface and help you take the first step. If you have other questions about finding someone in your area please don’t ever hesitate to ask. I’m here to help!