Finding and Selecting Your Ideal Therapist
There is a good chance that if you have been considering counseling, you have pondered the idea for sometime. In fact, thinking about counseling may have even invoked some anxiety. You have a lot of therapists to choose from, as the Bay area is highly saturated with therapists! Where do you start and what do you look for? I am going to give .you some tips and suggestions in helping you to find someone that is an ideal fit for you.
1) Before you start looking for a therapist, it is important for you to understand why you are seeking counseling. Examples of issues for which are you seeking counseling could be that you are depressed/anxious, having trouble communicating with your spouse, or you may have an eating disorder. It a good idea for you to understand why you think you may need counseling, therefore you can better search for the type of counselor you are looking for.
2) Where should you look for therapists? The internet has allowed browsing for therapists to be much easier. I always encourage folks to look for therapists on places that are credible and that can offer consumer feedback, as well as offer information about the therapist. Finding consumer feedback on therapists can be difficult, as people are not so quick to admit publicly that they are/were in counseling. It is a good idea to check out the therapist’s website, facebook page, and twitter page. Websites like Psychology Today, Goodtherapy, yelp, angieslist, zocdoc, and google are great for browsing for therapists. Also great alternatives for browsing therapists would be membership organization websites like American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association, and American Black Psychological Association, etc. The membership websites are good because they often list practitioners by their specialties.
3) I would only consider a therapist that can address your specific needs. For example, if you and your spouse want to attend counseling together, then you need a therapist that specializes in couples therapy. Another example would be if you have a history of severe PTSD, then you would most likely want to find a therapist that specializes in the type of trauma that you have experienced. Once you select the therapist you think is a good match for you, contact that therapist and set up a phone consultation. Ideally, you would want to speak with that therapist about 10-15 minutes over the phone before scheduling an appointment. Create a short list of questions that you would like to ask your therapist before coming in. Examples of questions to ask: a) what is your experience in working with my issue? b) how would you go about treating my issue and helping me to meet my goals? c) how does a typical counseling session work? Tailor your questions to suit your needs.
4) After you have completed a consultation, hopefully the therapist addressed how they can help you to meet your needs. If the consultation went well, you should understand the value that counseling can bring to your life, and have a desire for services. Once you have consulted with your ideal counselor, you should have been able to get a feel for whether you can trust your therapist enough to continue with making an appointment. While the initial consultation is just a start, after 2-3 sessions with your therapist, you will continue to build a rapport.
5) In thinking about the value of counseling, consider your motivation and budget. Therapy is an investment. It takes time, energy, effort, and money to work on yourself. Are you willing to invest in yourself and improve your overall emotional and mental health? Also important to consider, is what is the length of time it will take to get a return on your investment?
These are a few points that will help you in your selection to find the right therapist for you. A therapist should be someone that you can respect and trust, and has the ability to be objective. This is your journey to build a better you and you deserve to have the best treatment.
© Natalie Jones, LPCC, PsyD. | Clinical Psychologist