Finding the Right Therapist for You
All counselors and therapists are not created equal. Here is a short list of things to consider when shopping for a therapist.
One therapist is not the same as another. Each has their own personality, experience, approach and education level. Some have specialties that are pertinent for specific concerns. Not just any therapist will do. Find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable, and who has the training and experience to address your situation.
Where to Look for a Local Therapist
One of the best ways to locate a therapist is by recommendation. Good sources of recommendations include church leaders, or friends and family members who have had successful experiences with a therapist. Doctors may be able to provide a referral, and lawyers might have recommendations as well.
There are websites which provides lists and profiles of therapists in your area. Psychology Today has an extensive directory of mental health professionals at PsychologyToday.com – look for the “Find A Therapist” link on their website. Another helpful website is GoodTherapy.org.
Will the Services Provided by a Particular Therapist Meet Your Needs?
To discover the answer to this question, you can ask a potential therapist a lot of questions. This can occur during your initial session. Some of these questions can be asked by phone when you first contact a therapist, but it’s more helpful to make the investment in time and money to meet in person and discuss your questions. Here are a few ideas of the questions to ask a therapist during your first meeting:
How long have you been a therapist?
What are your credentials? (Are they a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, coach, etc.? Are they licensed?)
What is your educational background? (Have they been trained in psychotherapy, and regarding your particular concern?)
How do you work with clients to help them make long-term changes?
Have you worked with clients with circumstances that are similar to mine?
Do you set therapy goals or establish a treatment plan? If so, what is this process like? (If not, you might want to keep shopping because a plan helps guide your work together and keep it on track.)
Do you assign homework? If so, what should I expect?
How much do you charge for sessions? Do you accept health insurance?
How long are your sessions and what is a typical session like?
How often does the therapist think you should come in for therapy?
How will we know when I no longer need therapy?
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it is a good start. Think about what you realistically want or expect from your therapy sessions, keeping in mind that therapy is not like it is portrayed on television shows. Share these thoughts with your therapist to be sure you are both on the same page.