With so many choices out there, it’s hard to know how to find a therapist that will be the best fit for you.
There are a lot of different types of therapies and, even within similar types, every therapist has a unique way of interacting. Given this, it’s important that you explore your options.
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for a therapist.
1. Play the field.
This may sound strange, but it’s very important. Ask your friends, look online and take some time to find a 3-5 therapists that you are drawn to. Once you’ve done this, give them each a call for an initial phone consultation. After getting a sense of each therapist via phone, narrow down your search to one or two that you feel good about and then set up an appointment.
You might feel both excited and terrified about finding a therapist, so it’s important to take your time. If you see one and it doesn’t quite feel right, it’s okay to keep trying until you find someone that you feel you can work with in an on-going way.
Although this might feel different from what you expect, the truth is whatever you bring into your first therapy session is meaningful. Whether you talk a lot or don’t talk much at all; whether you have a list of things to address or come “empty handed,” all of these things give the therapist important information about you. No matter how you enter your first session, it’s important that you have a sense that the therapist is treating you with respect and curiosity, taking an interest in you and your life.
Notice how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel interacting with therapist. Experiment with taking risks to reveal what you are thinking and experiencing – even if it’s about the therapy itself!
If the therapist is able to “play” with your ideas, thoughts and feelings and it feels like the two of you might be able to think about your life together, then it is probably a good idea set up another session and see how it goes.
3. Don’t give up.
If you don’t quite mesh with the therapist in your first session, feel free let them know.
Again, it might feel unusual to be honest with someone you just met about something that may not sound “nice,” but therapy can be quite intense and it’s important that you find someone who you feel comfortable with. If there are things that you’re not sure about, bring it up.
As a therapist, part of my job is to help you find the best match, even if I’m not it! In our initial consultation, I’ll help think with you about whether it makes sense for us to work together and help you think about other options if it doesn’t.
It might take some time to find someone who feels like a good match. In fact, throughout the therapy relationship, you will probably come upon doubts, concerns and struggles about the therapy itself, just like you do with any relationship – be it with your family, friends, partner or colleagues.
It is your therapist’s job to help you figure out what obstacles might be getting in your way in terms of having a more fulfilling life, even if that is your therapist! That’s why it’s important to notice if your therapist seems able to have open, non-defensive conversations with you, even if you’re having difficulties about the therapy itself.