How to choose a therapist
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Are you looking for a new therapist? Or are you thinking of trying therapy for the first time?
Therapy is most effective when there is a good match between therapist and client. The alphabet soup behind everyone’s names, the therapeutic jargon you may not understand, the multitude of certifications, training and treatment models only add to your confusion. Even we therapists can experience this when trying to find therapists for ourselves or when providing referrals to family and friends. Let’s break this down into more manageable chunks.
Before you start your research:
- Be clear about what you want to accomplish in therapy or need support.
- Decide if you want in-person or telehealth sessions.
- Know your accessibility needs and what will make it easier for you to engage in the process.
- Determine what values or life experiences are important for your therapist to have in common with you.
Once you understand the above, refine your search based on these. Knowing what you want to accomplish or what you need help with allows you to search therapist sites and database profiles using keywords such as “couples therapy” or “management.” anxiety ”. Most therapists make it clear whether they offer face-to-face or virtual sessions. Many practices have both available. If you know you want either one, be sure to add it to your search.
When considering accessibility, think about more than ADA compliance, languages spoken, and a schedule that matches your own. You want to make sure your therapist is taking your insurance, offering a payment scale, or that their session fees are within your budget. Also, if you are hosting in-person sessions, is their office conveniently located? Because let’s face it, if the office is an access challenge, or if going to therapy requires a three-hour commitment, you’re more likely to cancel sessions and maybe quit earlier than expected.
Some suggest that a therapist’s values and life experiences should not impact the therapeutic relationship, as therapists are trained to remain neutral and to keep their beliefs, values, and personal life experiences out of therapy. . I guess if therapists weren’t human beings too, that would still be true, but alas, therapists are all humans first, and therapists second. Shared life experiences, dimensions of culture and / or value systems can create a sense of security and trust that only an “me too” connection creates.
Do I also think that deep and meaningful therapy can happen without these things? Absoutely. The personality fit and expertise in what you are dealing with can go a long way in an impactful therapy experience. So how do you check the personality fit? This is where the tone and voice of a therapist’s profile, website, and social media accounts speak volumes. You want to find someone who speaks in a way that resonates with you. While online personas aren’t fully fleshed out, there are still quite a few that you can pull off. However, authenticity, empathy, sense of humor, and world view usually shine. If you feel like a therapist is talking to you directly, this is a solid indication that he and his approach will be right for you.
As Dr Harry J. Aponte reminds us: “The relationship between the therapist and us is the foundation upon which all aspects of therapy will be built. We must live it as genuine, trustworthy and committed. This is ultimately what you want in a therapist. Yes, you will need to meet with them to be sure, but following the process above gives you a framework to reduce the overload and narrow down the options to those that bring you closer to finding your right therapist.
To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.