More importantly, how do you find the right therapist for you? While there are general things for anyone to consider when finding a therapist, such as location, cost, and whether the clinician is licensed or not, there are several factors to consider that might be specific to you. Whether you are searching for individual therapy or couples therapy, in-person or telehealth, and whether you are in Colorado Springs, Miami, or anywhere in between, finding a good therapist can be an important first step in reaching your personal or therapeutic goals. I want to share, from a therapist’s perspective, some tips on how to increase the chances you will find the right therapist for you.
Find a good match
Many people find therapists who are wonderful for them, even on the first try. Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories of clients who have seen a therapist in the past and found it to be a negative experience. Feeling judged, unsafe, unheard, or simply un-helped can leave someone reluctant to want to try to find another provider or engage in therapy at all. Just as in any profession, there are therapists who are underqualified, under skilled, or for one reason or another, just not cut out for the job. On the other hand, some negative experiences reflect poor client-therapist fit, rather than a “bad therapist.”
Invest in yourself
Just as with any investment you make, it is important to do research, take your time, and be diligent to know what you are signing up for (and who you are signing up with). And I cannot stress this enough, therapy is an investment in yourself. You are worth it, and you are worth putting the time and effort into finding the right therapist for you. So, while this might not be an exhaustive list, here are some things you might consider when seeking a therapist that might be a good fit for you.
Let’s start with some general considerations on finding a therapist and why these might be important:
- Location – this can include proximity, convenience, or the comfort you might feel in the physical space.
o If you do not feel comfortable or the hassle of getting to the therapist is greater than the benefit you experience from the therapy, you probably won’t continue to go.
- Cost – while this is a general consideration in finding any healthcare provider, this is also an individual consideration. Perhaps you pay for health insurance or not, perhaps you have financial means or not. Perhaps you have a third party pay for your healthcare or not. Regardless of your situation, you might get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. You are worth it!
o Only you know your financial situation and the value you are getting from the therapy. Again, you might just get what you pay for, so consider this aspect of your search carefully.
- Credentials – many types of practitioners can legally practice mental health therapy. Psychologists, social workers, licensed mental health professionals, and unlicensed practitioners who are supervised by a licensed supervisor.
o For some, the credentials might not matter. For others, finding a seasoned, experienced, and well-learned practitioner with training and background in specific areas might be crucial.
- Expertise – does the therapist I’m considering have experience or expertise in that area(s) in which I need help?
o While expertise is not necessarily crucial for therapy to be successful, depending on your situation and needs, it might be something to factor into your decision.
Let’s get specific
While the general considerations listed above are often what come to mind when people think about finding a therapist, the real factors that might determine your enjoyability and success in therapy are specific to you! Think about it; you wouldn’t purchase a home based on location and cost ONLY. You will visit the home to see what it looks like, how it feels, and what the neighborhood is like. You will consider the school system (if you have or plan to have kids), distance to the nearest pharmacy if you are taking life-sustaining medication, and maybe even the direction the house faces so you can maximize the amount of sunshine your property gets. What is important in finding the right therapist for you might be specific to you and is worth considering. Hopefully, these considerations will help you find a therapist you trust, look forward to seeing, and helps you be successful in reaching your goals.
So, how do you find the right therapist for you? Here are some things to consider:
Can you talk with the therapist before scheduling? – some therapists will offer the opportunity for you to have a call or video conversation before you schedule. If you are someone who likes to know what you are buying before you buy it, look for therapists who offer you a chance to hear their voice, ask questions, and see if there is a connective energy before you schedule (and pay) for a session.
Personality – therapy is an intensely personal process and considering both your personality and the personality of your therapist is important. Are you someone who appreciates direct and blunt communication, or do you need a gentler approach? Do you want to work with a therapist who brings their own humanity into the therapy session, or would you prefer someone who does not let you see behind the curtain? You know you, it’s okay to be thoughtful about who you choose to partner with on your therapeutic journey.
Feel – a significant part of the therapy experience is how you feel in session. I’ve talked with too many clients who share that they hesitated to reach out because they felt judged by their previous therapist. Some people have felt misunderstood. Others have felt simply misled by their therapist because their therapist couldn’t pick up on their needs. And, if meeting with your therapist leaves you feeling more bad than good, ask for what you need or find another therapist.
Past experience – if you have been to therapy before, you have experience upon which to draw. What did you like about the experience? What did you not like about the experience. Investigate and ask questions to help you find a therapist who can reflect what you like/need and will not provide another negative experience.
Approach to therapy – there are many different types of therapeutic approaches. Again, you know you, so I invite you to consider what you believe will be most effective for you? Do you want someone to give you specific homework assignments between sessions? Are you a data-driven person and looking to complete a lot of assessments? Do you think you’ll respond to a scripted approach, or an approach that is more free flowing? Even if you aren’t familiar with the names of different therapy approaches, you can ask questions that can help you get an idea of what the process or experience might be like with the therapist you are considering.
Expected length of therapy – this might be tied to therapy approach or cost mentioned above, although it might not be. Some therapists spend significant time delving into your past, exploring all the peripheral aspects of your life in order to gather a very thorough and informative background before getting to the therapeutic interventions. Other therapists might work to understand your current difficulties and goals and jump right in, offering immediate strategies and skills for you to practice immediately.
It’s YOUR needs that matter
Also keep in mind that your search for a therapist who is a good fit for you and your goals does not have to end when you schedule your first (or second) session. While I cannot speak for all therapists (although I hope I do), I can tell you that whether you choose to work with me or not, I do not take it personally. Even if we’ve already begun and you find that I am not meeting your needs, I would rather you share that with me so that I can adjust, or maybe even help you find a therapist that would be a better fit, than have you keep coming and hating it or simply disappearing without me ever finding out where you went. In other words, it’s okay to say that you don’t think it is a good fit or that you need something different. Therapy should be about YOU, not the therapist.
Hopefully the list above gives you some useful ideas to consider when trying to find a therapist that will be a good fit for you. If you have questions or concerns about any information in this blog, I invite you to reach out to me and I’d be happy to talk with you. If you aren’t sure where to start to even look for a therapist, I’ll be posting another blog soon with ideas and suggestions about where and how to look for therapists online or in your community.
You can always start with Dr. Mike at INC Therapy!
Dr. Mike Ghali, owner of Individual and Couples Therapy, has been practicing therapy for over 20 years. He recently moved to Colorado Springs, CO with his family. While physically located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he holds in-person sessions, you can also schedule telehealth sessions with Dr. Mike from anywhere in Colorado or Florida.
If you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute consultation call INC Therapy, please click here., then click Schedule, and choose the available time that works best for you and your partner. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not include sensitive clinical information in emails.