I’ve seen a therapist off and on since I was in college. Some have helped me make major changes in how I process my own thoughts. Others, well let’s just say it wasn’t a perfect fit.
It’s almost like dating: There are a lot of great people out there, but there’s something special about “THE ONE”.
I believe every person on this planet can benefit from therapy. I mean, turn on the news after another violent crime in our country and everyone on TV seems to blame it on “mental health”. Obviously, people need help. We all do. It’s just a shame there seems to still be a stigma around asking for it.
When people need a mechanic or plumber they go to Nextdoor to ask their neighbors. When I need a place to get last minute alterations for some pants that don’t fit, I go to Facebook to ask my friends. Will we ever feel safe asking for therapist recommendations in the same way?
Listen, I get that talking about mental health is difficult, so it stands to reason that your therapy sessions are probably not your main conversation topics with friends.
So let me be your friend. We can skip the awkward part and I’ll tell you how I have had success in finding a therapist match.
Before we get started I want to acknowledge the cost associated with mental health care can be high. Insurance typically covers this treatment but some plans only have a narrow list of providers or you only get a set number of sessions. It can feel overwhelming. I feel you. But I pinky promise it’s worth it.
- Think about what kind of therapist you need. There is a wide range of therapists who specialize in different areas such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, etc. Maybe you are scheduling a therapist for your child and need a teen therapist. Maybe you just aren’t sure yet and need someone who can get you started on the right path. Whatever your specific needs are, starting there as a search point will help you narrow down a list. My insurance website lets me search by specialty. Beyond that, I think my most successful experiences in therapy have come from someone who challenges me (in a loving way). I don’t need someone to agree with me at every turn, after all, I’m human having a real human experience. I make mistakes and I have to acknowledge the part I play in my circumstances.
- Know what things matter to you. Make a list of your personal preferences that will help you find a good fit. You want your therapist to be someone you feel safe and comfortable with. I’ve always felt safer with a female therapist. Maybe you prefer someone who holds the same religious beliefs as you. Whatever things create a feeling of safety for you, include those on your list.
- Consider what location matters to you. Schedules are hard enough, so know what your limits are on actually making it to your appointments. If the commute to the office is a barrier, look for an office closer to you. Alternatively, look at great resources online, such as Talkspace, that offers virtual appointments from anywhere. My most recent therapist lives across the country and we zoom our sessions.
- Ask for recommendations from people you trust. Reach out to anyone you know and trust, within your comfort level, that may be able to offer you a personal recommendation. This could even be your family doctor who often has a list of therapists in your local area and network. If this is for your child, you can also reach out to school counselors for advice.
- Schedule the appointment. Once you have a list narrowed down, make the leap and get an appointment on your calendar. It may take a few sessions to feel super comfortable, but you should feel safe and supported in these sessions.
I often feel mentally and physically exhausted after a session. I hear that’s normal. Doing all that work to unravel systems you’ve lived in for years is hard work.
I hope this helps.
You’ve got this.
I believe in you.