Therapy and counseling can be a tough subject to navigate. Reaching out for help can be intimidating and finding a therapist that is right for you can be a complicated process. However, finding the right therapist can be the difference between struggling with your problems and getting your life back on track.
So what makes a good therapist? How do you choose one that fits your needs and what are some critical things you need to know before choosing one?
Although every person’s case is different, there are some key steps you can take to ensure you get matched with the proper therapist without wasting time or money.
Before reaching out to a therapist, talk to your general practitioner and insurance provider in regards to whether or not your medical insurance will cover therapy. If the cost of therapy or scheduling is an issue for you, there are alternatives like online therapy. Online therapy is a great alternative to in-person sessions and often comes with more flexible timing and rates. Once you know what your budget and scheduling will look like, you’re ready to start searching for a therapist.
Finding a therapist can seem daunting, so we’ve broken it down into three easy steps. By the end, you should have a much clearer idea of how to find a therapist and what type of therapy is right for you.
Choosing the type of therapy
The first thing to ask yourself is what type of therapy are you seeking? Ask yourself: “What is the biggest problem in my life and how is it holding me back?” By clearly defining the issue and asking yourself what you want to get out of it, you set the criteria of what your therapy sessions should revolve around. Do some research into the type of treatment you are looking for. Not all therapy needs to come in the form of one-on-one sessions.
- If you are looking for addiction counseling, finding a substance abuse counselor can come in the form of a support group. Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous are free to join and are very welcoming of newcomers.
- If it’s marriage counseling, there are marriage counselors who specialize in couples therapy. There are also support groups specific to men & women exclusively, so think about what would be most beneficial for you.
- If you are looking for a mental health counselor, define the particular problem you are dealing with and seek a professional in that field. A cognitive behavioral therapist will provide different results from a psychoanalytic therapist.
Make sure to clearly define what your ailment is and look for professionals in that particular field who have experience dealing with what you are afflicted with. Just remember, not all problems stem from one area. A mental health counselor may actually be able to help with marital issues if you or your partner suffer from a particular mental condition and it is putting a strain on your relationship.
The bottom line is, therapy and healing can be complicated. So in order to get the best out of it, try to define the problem as best as you can. Be up front and honest with every therapist you reach out to and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time.
Reviewing your options
The next thing you’ll want to do is narrow down your options. Once you’ve defined the problem, start searching for a licensed therapist and come up with a few different options. Recommendations from your doctor, referrals from friends or family members, and reviews and results from the general public on Google can help you narrow down your options. Of course looking at things like credentials and past work experience are important. However, you also want to look for a therapist who you think you can relate to.
Think about some of the things that may be important to you. Some criteria to take into consideration:
- The gender of the therapist
- The age of the therapist
- The sexual orientation of the therapist
- Licenses & certificates in a particular background
- Religious or cultural backgrounds
- Personal experience & core values
Really drill down on what values are important to you and search for someone who can relate to those values. One of the biggest deciding factors can be personal experience. Going back to the example of a mental health counselor, you might find that you relate best to a therapist who has struggled with mental health also.
If it’s a substance abuse counselor you’re looking for, there’s often no better way to heal that confiding in a former addict. Someone who’s been through it all and can give you some needed guidance.
Make sure to review your options and select a few therapists to reach out to. You may find that not all of them meet your criteria or that not all therapists can accompany you and your schedule. By defining your criteria and selecting therapists based on it, you’re much more likely to find one who will work for you. Be concise about what you value and make sure your therapist aligns with those values.
Selecting your therapist
Now that you know how to find a therapist and what to look for in a therapist it’s time for you to reach out and see which one is right for you. It’s best in the beginning to start with a phone consultation. That way you can talk one on one, get a read on their personality and judge if they would be a good fit for you.
Make sure to ask them questions about their practice. Let them know what you are struggling with and what their process is when it comes to tackling those issues. Ensure that you ask what they charge as well as their availability. Get an overall read on who they are and how they can help you by asking direct questions related to what you are struggling with. Once you’ve selected a therapist, book an appointment and let them walk you through their process. It may take a few sessions for you to decide whether or not you want to continue with them.
Just know that it’s totally fine to let a therapist know that things aren’t working out. No therapist appeals to everybody and they know that not everyone is going to relate to them. Simply let them know you want to continue looking and that it’s nothing personal. You may find the perfect therapist right away, or it may take a few tries to find the right one. It really is important you find someone you can trust and relate to, so stay persistent and don’t get down if it doesn’t work out the first time.
Regardless of who you are, you deserve to live the best life that you can. The easiest way to do so is by surrounding yourself with the people who value you and your goals.
Therapy is often a lifelong venture and you get out what you put in. However, it makes going through life a whole lot easier when you have someone to talk to and someone who can help you stay on track.
While it may take patience and time, finding a therapist who is right for you is that first crucial step in the right direction towards a better and brighter future.
Wellneste Editorial Team