How to Choose the Right Therapist for You

Have you ever wondered if you would benefit from therapy? Has anyone ever suggested to you that “perhaps you should see a therapist…..”. As a therapist , there are certain concepts I believe are important for an individual seeking out a therapist needs to consider so they can make a good decision and choose a therapist who is a “good fit”.

Where do you begin?

Though it might take some time to find a therapist who matches your individual needs, a few important steps can point you in the right direction. Certain types of therapy may be a better fit for you than others. It typically depends on the issue(s) you want to address and your personal preference. Many therapists use more than one approach. Some of the more “common” approaches include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ( CBT) , which is especially effective for anxiety as well as depression. It Is based on the idea that you can change the thought patterns that shape your feelings and behavior.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ( ACT) is often effective for people experiencing hopelessness in that it teaches you how to accept what you can’t change and commit to changing what you can.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy explores how your past may be shaping your present.
  • AODA Therapy looks at the use of alcohol and other drugs and how it negatively impacts day to day functioning.

No matter which type of therapy you choose, your relationship with the therapist is the most important predictor of growth. Feeling a sense of trust, acceptance, genuine interest in you , along with understanding your goals and instilling confidence your goals are “doable” are important “musts” in choosing your therapist. Let’s be real. It’s your time and money that is being invested into this process, and if you don’t feel heard, or seen or validated, then how are you going to truly explore and more importantly, resolve, your issues and concerns?

Therapists include not just psychologists, who usually have a PhD or PsyD, but also licensed professional counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists. Psychiatrists are physicians focused on mental health and can prescribe medications. Different types of training do not necessarily mean one type of therapist is better than another. Be cautious about selecting a person without a specialized license or degree as well as those who may be using social media, such as TIK TOK to offer mental health advice. Some therapists offer individual therapy ( one on one), group therapy (meeting with a group of people who are dealing with a similar issue as you and all participants share their experiences and receive feedback from others ) or couples/family therapy ( sessions include your spouse/partner/family member and focus is on the interactions and issues within the relationship ).

How much does it cost?

If you have heatlh insurance, check with your insurance provider as to what type of therapy it covers , how much the insurance will cover of the cost of therapy and if there is a limit on the number of sessions . When the pandemic hit a couple of years ago, virtual therapy, or telehealth became widely supported and recommended as it allowed for therapy to occur without direct person to person contact between therapist and client. It also allowed for clients to meet with the therapist in the comfort of their home, car, office – wherever they had a confidential space and good internet connections. Telehealth remains a popular choice today for both clients and therapists due to the convenience in time, travel and location.

Where do you start looking for a therapist?

Talk to your insurance company. They can give you a list of providers in your network, and you can search for them on Google and look at areas of expertise, location , hours and reviews. Some agencies offer a sliding scale fee schedule which is based on household income. Paying directly out of pocket is another option
Talk to your medical provider. Most healthcare providers can give you a list of referrals. Double check to see if they are in your network. . Ask friends and family members for recommendations. If you want to search on your own, there are a number of sites to try: Psychology Today – put in your zip code and immediately get a list of therapists in your area with contact information credentials, areas of expertise, cost and payment method. American Psychological Association: This is a database of professional psychologists that also has detailed profiles with information. These are just a couple of suggestions that can provide you with the necessary information to select a qualified therapist who hopefully will be a good fit.

Now what?

Once you have made a list of potential providers, contact their office and confirm the details such as cost, hours, insurance, waiting time, etc. Some therapists will offer a “meet and greet” which will allow you to have a short consultation ( by phone, webcam or in person ) to answer your questions about their style, approach to therapy, experience, etc. and give you an opportunity to decide if this is a good fit for you. There is no obligation to schedule an appointment, so if it does not feel right, move on. It may take meeting several therapists before you find the right person, or meeting with the therapist for several sessions before you decide whether or not the therapeutic relationship if working for you. If it is not, be direct with the therapist in explaining your thoughts and feelings . He/she may be able to refer you to another therapist who will be more in line with your needs. I appreciate getting honest and direct feedback from my clients because in the long run, it makes me a better therapist.

Lastly, remember that the ultimate goal of all therapy is to live your life to the fullest as you replace the therapist with new life strategies.

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