Finding a therapist can be a daunting and confusing task. The reason most of us look for one is BECAUSE we are already feeling out of sorts, overwhelmed and/or depressed. Another task on our list is usually not what we want, but this task is necessary to get the help we need.
Here are some "Tips from a Therapist" on how to find a "Good Fit Therapist."
1. Go into this process with the understanding that you are interviewing them just as they are interviewing you.
The therapist can ask questions about what brings you to counseling. You have every right to also ask questions and they should be providing you space to ask during your consultation. Go in with an attitude of "I have the right to ask" and ask unapologetically. This is YOUR health and this is the first level to being your own advocate.
2. Schedule a consultation with a therapist AFTER researching them online.
Most therapist provide their curriculum vitae, website, license number, office location, ect on the web. Search them. Most therapist have more than one listing online... so be open to exploring more than one source.
3. It is work, but schedule more than 2 consultations.
Most of us are anxious and want to grab at things quickly when we need help asap but do yourself a favor and explore your options. Some people do not have options. If you have this privilege, don't pass it up. Speak with more than just one therapist. You are learning more and more about the options after ever consultation so either way, you are gaining skills and sharpening your ability to advocate for yourself.
4. Here is a list of questions I would ask a therapist if I were searching for one.
- How would you help someone with my problem? "How do you help someone with anxiety?" How do you help someone with depression?
- How long have you been in practice? (Someone that's fresh out of school? Ask them if they have a supervisor, are they under supervision? Where they are in the process of licensure?) I'd even ask for the name and contact information to their supervisor. Look up their supervisor too.
- What does your intake process/onboarding process look like? - What are your "modalities?" ***
Be sure to write down what they say and search it on the internet. Compare and see if their modality matches what would be used for your problem or concern*
- Challenging question: "What does research say about having depression and using your modality?"
(For instance, if your therapist says they use CBT Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and you have challenges with depression ask them "What does current research say about using CBT with depression?" or "What does current research say about using Exposure Therapy on PTSD?" Pair your problem with their stated modality.
- "What do we do for the first session?" ( They should give you an idea of what the first session looks like. It should be including words like "Treatment Planning", "Diagnosis", "Assessment", "going over a biopsychosocial" or reviewing your lifespan, your childhood, work history, relationship history, etc.
- "What type of clients do you see?" (Match what they say with YOU. Do you fit into that category?
- "What do I need to do in order to confirm a time for session?"
Cost? Cancellation Policy? How do you accept payment?
- "What are your office hours? What times do you have available?"
- "If I think I need to find a more secure fit, do you have any recommendations for me?"
( This gives the therapist the opportunity to give you names, modalities, or recommendations that you can add to your knowledge base. This helps you advocate for yourself more in the future. Most therapist can recommend another clinic or therapist if they believe you two are not the best fit. Add what they say to your resource list!)
- "How do I follow up with you after I review my information?" - This gives you an idea how to contact them and reach out after you have time to think about it and make a decision.
5. Vibe check!
( Did it feel good and comfortable talking to them? Do you feel like you can talk to them about your problems? Do you feel you can share space with them weekly? Biweekly? - These are questions to consider when finding a match.
And lastly...be gentle, patient and honest with yourself.
Trust your gut. If you do not feel comfortable with someone, keep looking. If their modality does not match up with your problem, keep looking. If they are hard to communicate with, keep looking. If there are problems with figuring out payment methods, cancellation policy, confusing paperwork process...keep looking.
And remember - just because a therapist has the "credentials" it doesn't automatically qualify them to be the "best fit" for YOU!
Blessings! Grace and Peace!
-Jenn Hart, MA, LPC, E-RYT, YACEP