The decision to seek therapy and meet with a professional is a big step. So you’ve decided you want to get help, but now what? How do you decide who to see? Will they be a good fit? Will they understand what you are going through? These are all really important questions, but don’t let them overwhelm you. Below I will review several considerations, as well as questions you might ask yourself and a potential therapist, that might help you with the decision process.
Research shows that the therapeutic relationship is the largest predictor of success in counseling. You have to feel comfortable with the therapist you choose and the relationship you will develop is more important than their training, where they went to school or their professional accomplishments. Even the best therapists aren't a good fit for everyone.
What characteristics do you look for in a therapist. Think about what might lead you to feel the most comfortable with someone you will be opening up to. What type of approach would work best for you? Would you feel most comfortable with a male or female? Does their age play a role? This might help narrow down your search.
Contact your insurance company. Become informed about your coverage and ask if they have a list of providers in your area. While I wouldn’t recommend basing your search entirely on insurance, (especially because many great providers don’t accept insurance or may not be in your network) it can be a good starting point.
Ask for recommendations. Do you know friends or family who have been in therapy before? Ask about their experience and how they found their therapist, they’ve already been through this and might be able to help you navigate the process. Do you know someone who works in the field? Ask if they know any professionals who specialize in the issue you are seeking help for.
Check out potential therapists’ website or professional profile. Psychology Today and Good Therapy are a couple of resources that allow therapists to post a profile so you can read more and contact them. Browse the pictures and read about different therapists. You can get a feel for their style by reading about them, their experience and approach to therapy.
Find out if the therapist offers a free phone consultation. Once you’ve narrowed it down, talk to a few different people, see what vibe you get and trust your gut instincts! This is also an opportunity for you to ask questions. You might ask about their training and specialties, how long they’ve been in practice, or how they approach the type of problem you are coming in for.