Finding the Best Therapist (For You)
Finding a therapist is no easy task. Finding a good therapist is even harder. You have decided to give therapy a try and now you need to find a therapist that is right for you. You Google “therapist near me” and see what comes up. You scroll through directories like Psychology Today or GoodTherapy.org. Maybe someone will jump out at you. You might have an idea of who you are looking for or you may have no clue that “finding the right therapist" is even a thing. You may want someone who takes insurance, you may want a specific race or gender. You may have a specific concern that you want to work on and therefore will want an expert in that field. You have every right to be selective about a therapist. In fact, it will do you and any potential therapist a disservice to start or continue therapy if you are not getting a good vibe from them. And, any therapist worth their salt will also be up front if they are not getting a good vibe from you, no offense.
I have spent well over a decade in the field of mental health. Us therapists will throw around acronyms, clinical terms and references like it’s our second language. We sound like walking, talking DSMs (see! I just did it) and if you are another therapist, you get it. We have a set of jargon that we easily understand. But what we forget is that this is not normal. The way we talk with each other is not the standard language that most people understand. Not that I am judging. I don’t speak with my mechanic and understand the terms he is using. I just smile and nod. I trust him, he’s a good guy. Let me know if you need a referral. I also don’t understand my GPS when it says, “head West”. What the f*** direction is West. If I knew that, I probably wouldn’t need the damn GPS.
Anyway, I digress.
So, how do you find the right therapist?
There are lots of factors to consider and I have created a worksheet that will help you keep your thoughts in order and be prepared for the initial consult or intro call. Which, by the way, should be offered at no cost. This worksheet (hopefully) is free of jargon and will help you decide what is important in a therapist and who you would like to avoid. It is a GPS that speaks your language. I will outline the steps that are provided in the worksheet. Remember, what we resist, persist. Working with a therapist that is a good fit is the best way to take care of yourself, for you and your family.
Step 1: What do I need help with?
Think about the past month or week. When did you feel something intense? When I say intense, I mean something that provoked you. You felt a reaction in your body. For me personally, it’s sweaty armpits and increased heart rate. I can literally feel my feel my heart beating and I get sweat marks on my shirt. I feel flushed and hot. Sometimes I feel this intense urge to cry or yell or break something. What does this look like for you?
Now that we know what the pain point FEELS like, what is the situation or context around that pain point? Maybe it is having (or trying to have) a conversation with your spouse or your parent. Maybe it is trying to get yourself and/or your children out the door on time. Maybe it is when you realize that you forgot to pick up your kid from soccer or you dropped them off at the wrong field. It could be meeting demands of your schedule or of your profession. Take a second to think about it and then write it down.
Step 2: Figure Out Who Can Help
Write down some people or other professionals that you trust. This could be your doctor, your hair stylist, a close friend, or family member. Ask them if they know any good therapists. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your business out there do a Google search. Search for “therapists that work with overwhelm” “therapy for career transitions”. You can also try goodtherapy.org or Psychology Today. Using databases can help you filter results but location and other preferences as well.
Step 3: Make a List of Options
Now that you have a list of potential candidates, set up a time that you can email or call each one. Some therapists have contact forms on their websites, use those. Some even have a scheduler on their website to schedule an intro call.
You can write a generic email asking to schedule a call or outline what you would like help with. Work smarter not harder, copy and paste the email to each potential candidate.
Step 4: Schedule an Initial Interview
As you are meeting with your potential therapist, think of what you would like to achieve in therapy. How would know that therapy worked or is working? What would be different about you? Another thing to keep in mind is how you are feeling as you are meeting with this therapist? Do they seem to understand what you are saying? Do you understand what they are saying? Do you know more about them than they know about you? Ask them who is their ideal client? How do they recommend you get your time and money’s worth?
Step 5: What/who will make me feel safe?
Of the therapists you met with, who did you feel the most comfortable with? It’s okay to have a preferred gender, age, race etc. The most important part of therapy is the relationship. Without this, the best therapist in the world won’t be able to help.
If you would like to set up an initial meeting with me, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am up front about who I can help and who I cannot. If I am not the right fit for you, I will give you some resources to find the right match.