Once you’ve decided that therapy is right for you, the next step is to find a therapist with whom you can connect; someone who makes you feel understood and someone you can trust. Chances are, if you and your therapist do not have a connection, you may not make progress. Choosing the right therapist takes a little more effort, but does not have to be daunting and confusing. Here are a few quick tips to help you find the right therapist.
Determine what type of issues you are facing.
Are you dealing with depression, stress or anxiety; relationship conflicts; a traumatic event; grief or loss; or just everyday stressors? Therapists work with clients on a variety of issues and can also specialize their focus on specific issues such as trauma and P.T.S.D (post-traumatic stress disorder) grief, marriage and family, etc. There are also therapists who work not only with specific issues, but also with specific populations, such as young children, teens, adults or geriatrics. It is important to find a therapist who has experience with the specific issues you are facing.
Don’t be afraid to ask around.
One of the best ways to find a licensed therapist is to ask someone whom you trust and who has had experience working with a therapist. Family and friends, teachers, school counselors and family doctors are great resources to help you find a therapist. Ask them about their experience with their therapist, if they felt comfortable with him or her and if they felt as though the therapy was beneficial.
Another way to find a therapist in your area is by searching online. Psychology Today is a great place to start. Psychology Today has a national database of therapists, as well as feature columns on relationships, mental health education and work-related interests. As you look through the list of therapists in your area, be sure to consider the gender you prefer to work with, whether or not the therapist has experience with the issues you are facing, if the therapist accepts your insurance, if he or she offers a free phone consultation and where he or she is located. Don’t forget to read their biography and check out their website if they have one. This will give you more insight into the therapist.
Check Licensing and Insurance Eligibility.
For mental health issues, it important to find a therapist who has been board certified to practice in his or her state to practice. Having a license helps ensure that the therapist or counselor you might be working with has met the education and qualifications to practice. In most states, a master’s level education is the minimum requirement. You can visit your state’s behavioral science regulatory board to verify if the therapist has a current license or if they have had any disciplinary action taken against them.
If you have insurance, you will need to check with your insurance company about any requirements they may have. Some insurance companies may require a co-pay and may have deductibles that will need to be met before the insurance covers the services. You will also want to verify that your therapist accepts your insurance.
Once you have created your list of therapists, it’s time to connect with them. If the therapists that you have selected offer a phone consultation, this is a great way to discuss your needs, answer any questions you might and get a “feel” for the therapist before making an appointment. Common questions could include their level of experience, types of treatment modalities they use and whether or not they have worked with others who have similar issues to yours. Remember, this is a great way to see if you and the therapist have a connection. Even if the therapist does not offer a phone consultation, chances are you will be able to speak to someone in their office (such as an intake coordinator) who can answer questions regarding the therapist. Yes, it’s okay to ask the office staff if you could speak with the therapist briefly before you schedule your appointment.
Finding a therapist does not have to be overwhelming, but taking the time to find the therapist to suite your needs will save you frustration in the long run. Don’t get discouraged if the therapist you choose turns out not to be the right fit. It may take meeting a few therapists to find the right one for you. Take your time; consider your options and most of all trust your instincts.