Finding a therapist can be quite like dating. Both parties want to make sure our values align, conversation is interesting and helpful, and hopefully the relationship adds something meaningful to our lives. I can’t promise that therapeutic relationships won’t be costly or end with tough break-ups, but hopefully they will be worthwhile and will help heal you from past traumas, instead of triggering new ones.
Today, I thought I’d share some tips on how you might be able to find your ideal therapist. If you’ve gotten yourself to this blog post, you’re already starting out strong!
Think about these items first!
What are you hoping to work on in therapy? (No issue is too small or too big to receive support for)
Do you have insurance and mental health benefits? Are you willing to self-pay? And, if so, what would be a reasonable monthly budget for therapeutic services?
How far are you willing to travel or do you prefer Telehealth services? Would a provider who practices near your job, for example, be most convenient for you?
Are there any must-haves for your provider? Would you like for them to specialize in a particular area, conduct a particular type of therapy, or, be culturally competent specifically in some aspect of your identity?
These questions will initially point you in the right direction! Use these points of reference as ways to narrow down your search. By understanding exactly what you might be looking for and what your “non-negotiables” are, you’ll be able to thoughtfully move towards finding your ideal provider, while avoiding providers that may not best serve you in this capacity.
Once you’ve identified your main criteria, you can begin your search on google, but a better way to find more specific results is by using one of the following therapist directories/targeted search engines:
You can also ask friends, family members, your doctor, other medical/mental health providers, or view a local directory for suggestions. Many cities have local therapist directories, including ones with many identified niches or particular types of practicing providers.
Once you have a list of providers that appear to be viable for you,
Then it’s time to look more specifically at what the therapists near you are offering so that you can find a therapist who is a good fit for your needs. Navigating different types of therapy offered and knowing what might be the right fit for you is challenging without a background in psychology or counseling. Keep in mind that above all, it’s most important that you are comfortable with your therapist.
Let’s make it simple for you.
Do you want homework, thought logs, or to analyze what triggers your thoughts? Would you be interested in altering unhealthy thoughts? Go for a CBT, or a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist.
Are you looking for an analysis of logical/rational versus emotional thinking or to work on emotion regulation, personality disorders, or eating disorders, with some of that CBT work mentioned? Check out options for DBT, or a Dialectical-Behavioral Therapist.
Do you want clear, immediate solutions to pressing problems that are bothering you right now? Solution-focused therapy, is brief and doesn’t include ‘analysis’ or processing.
Is talking to process, in a safe space without a lot of structure or directives the most helpful for you? Check out Humanistic, Person-centered, or Jungian therapy.
Do you believe that the way we view something impacts our relationship to it? Do you believe we often miss out on the purpose or the ‘good’ parts? Check out Post-modern or Narrative therapies.
Are you hoping to find the meaning and purpose in your life and the everyday tasks involved? You might enjoy Existential therapy.
Would you like to process some of your intersectional identities and are in search of a non-judgmental, open-minded, and supportive provider? Affirmative therapy might be the way to go!
Please note that this is an incredibly brief overview and doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of the types of therapy available. Hopefully, however, this provides you with a good starting point as you begin your search!
Set up some phone calls and Talk with a few Therapists
Many therapists will offer free 15-30 minute consultations. These are important so you and the therapist know you’re a good fit. You should be picky about what therapist you’d like to work with, and they should be picky about you too! If they lack the skills or experience to help you, then they should be clear and upfront about this, and refer you elsewhere. Ask them about their experience and training. For instance, I’ve frequently referred clients who come to me for help with substance abuse. I have extensive experience with treating anxiety and depression, but I don’t have the specific training or experience to help with severe substance abuse. In addition, sometimes more severe difficulties require more intensive treatment. An ethical provider will inform you if they believe that you may require a higher level of care, such as a residential or partial program.
Give it a shot! Go in for a session.
It’s okay to go to one session and decide whether or not that therapist is a good fit for you. You’re not obligated to return, and their feelings won’t be hurt (well maybe a little, but trust, it will be okay!). Providers always appreciate a heads-up if this is the decision you’ve made, though, and sometimes we can even help you to find a provider that aligns more with what you might be looking for.
During your initial session, however, ask questions! Especially for individuals who are new to receiving therapy, it is perfectly okay if you ask your potential newfound therapist just what you should expect coming into future sessions!
need more? schedule a free consultation today and let's chat about your hopes for counseling!