Finding a therapist you trust and have a good working relationship with doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, it can be easy to find a therapist you have a solid repertoire with if you put a little time into picking the right fit, do your research, ask questions, and go in with an open mind. For four tips on how to find the right therapist for you or someone you care about, read on.
1. Do your research online
Step one in finding a therapist you trust is to start with a therapists search where you can find lists of licensed counselors, family therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and clinical social workers who can work with you in a variety of ways. Whether you need a psychologist to help you with the discomfort of symptoms of anxiety and depression or you need help with substance abuse, a visit to the With Therapy website can be a great way to get in touch with counselors and therapists in the United States who you’ll grow to trust. Additionally, you can try sites like https://www.health.com/mind-body/best-online-therapy to find the perfect fit for someone who deals with the exact issues you’re having.
Once you’ve found a therapist you think might work for you, do a little research on their background. Read their bio and find out their preferred area of practice, how many years of experience they have, and read any reviews you can find on their work with other clients. After you’ve done this, consider calling for an initial appointment where you’ll have a better sense of the therapist you’re considering working with.
Keep in mind that most first sessions are meant for the therapist to learn about your mental health issues, history, and expectations for therapy. These initial intake appointments won’t be like the appointments that follow. Give yourself and your therapist the benefit of an open mind as you begin psychotherapy. What at first feels more like a job interview than a therapy session can quickly become a strong therapeutic alliance as time goes by.
2. Talk to people you know
If you have friends or family members who’ve seen mental health professionals in the past or at present, it’s a good idea to ask them about their experiences. Not only will your loved one give you an idea of what to expect if you’ve never attended therapy before, but they will also be able to offer advice about how they got back to normal activities after symptoms of anxiety, depression, or something different.
When talking to your family members or friends about their mental health experiences, ask about any professional counselor in your area that they might recommend. Maybe you have a sister who gets medication from a psychiatrist who works in a therapy group. Even if she doesn’t work directly with the psychologists in that partnership, she may know enough about the clinic or facility that she can help guide you to someone who might be a good match.
Think about your search for a therapist similar to the way you might hunt for the perfect sheath dress for a formal event. You’ll want second opinions and will want to stay open-minded about recommendations. In the same way a sheath dress or blazer might not look great on the rack, but could be the perfect fit when you put it on, you’ll want to try on a counselor before committing to the therapeutic relationship.
3. Ask questions
It’s okay to ask questions when you first meet your new therapist, psychiatrist, or counselor. Be honest with your therapist about your reservations. You can even state that it takes a long time for you to build trust, or that you’re concerned about forming an alliance. Any good therapist will appreciate your transparency and will be honest in return.
Perhaps you’re seeking counseling after suffering a serious spinal column injury. Maybe you need help with your grief over the loss of a normal life after the spine injury. As you work on your healing process, it’s perfectly okay to ask your therapist to do their own research in order to help you. That is, therapy is a two-way street, and part of building trust means meeting halfway. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist to read a cervical neck surgery recovery guide in order for them to better understand your medical conditions. Them putting in the extra effort will be helpful in showing you they’re there for all the complexity of your situation.
4. Be prepared to ask for referrals
After giving a new therapist a chance and being honest, it’s okay to decide that it’s not a good match. Even after a short period of time, it can be clear when personalities don’t mesh. If this is the case, ask your therapist for a referral to someone who might be a better match. A therapist would rather terminate than have you miss appointments and struggle with communicating in sessions. They are there to help and understand that not every match is a good one.
At the end of the day, life is hard enough. The last thing you need is a therapist you don’t trust. By taking time to put in the work of finding the right therapist for you and being okay with the idea that not every match will be perfect, you’ll stand a better chance of finding a therapist you trust.