You decided it's time. You are going to therapy. It takes a lot of motivation, energy, and bravery to make that step. I mean, I have to talk about THAT with someone. Will the therapist judge me, look into my soul? Finding the right therapist won’t necessarily make it easy (therapy is hard work), but it can make the process better, and alleviate at least some of the discomfort.
So, how do you know what to look for? Where to look? What does the right fit even look like? Here are a few tips to help start that search.
1. What can you afford financially? This may not be the most important issue in finding a therapist, but the fees are an integral point to consider. Yes, a good therapist is worth paying out of pocket for. But if you plan to use insurance, a starting place can be finding a therapist that accepts your insurance.
2. Where to search? To find a therapist within your insurance plan, you can visit the insurance company website, or call the number on the back of your card.
For a general search, Psychology today has a find a therapist site (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists) where many therapists advertise, and include relevant information about treatments, location, virtual vs in person, and insurance. Word of mouth can also be a reliable way to find a therapist. Do you know someone who loves their therapist? What do they like?
3. Think about the things that are important to you in this endeavor. Do you prefer in person or virtual? Do demographics matter to you (sex/race/age)? Does the therapist work with your needs? Is there a particular type of therapy that you think would be helpful for you?
4. Most importantly, do an interview. If the therapist offers a consultation, do that. If not, your first session is like an interview. The therapist is trying to learn about you, but you are also allowed to evaluate the therapist. What is it like to be in the office (or virtual room)? Is the therapist someone I could talk to? Does the therapist’s methods align with how I learn or function? Does the therapist have a balance of challenge and support? Therapy will still feel uncomfortable, but the right therapist can be your ally in the process.
As someone who has both been to therapy, and provided therapy, I know that finding a therapist is tricky. I may or may not be the right fit for you, but in the first session, I want you to feel empowered to make a choice that is right for you, even if it is someone else. What’s important is that you are having your needs met and moving closer to your goals.