You have decided that you are ready to attend therapy. The next step (and possibly the most difficult step) is finding a therapist. It can be challenging to find the right therapist for you. Often times, it is in moments of distress, fear, worry, or grief that a person is looking to attend therapy. The most important aspect of finding a therapist, is establishing a trusting relationship in which you feel valued, heard, and understood. One of the key factors to successful therapy experiences is forming an alliance with the client and the therapist. The following are five steps to take into consideration.
- There are a number of ways to find therapists that are practicing in your area. Word of mouth is always helpful, did your cousin/friend/brother see a therapist that they really liked? If you know someone you trust had a good experience, you’re likely to form trust in that person quickly as well. If you don’t have people in your circle that have recommendations, Psychology Today webpage offers listings of counselors in your area. Once you find one you believe to be a good candidate, you reach out via phone call or email and begin the process of assessing whether or not it could be a good fit.
- When looking for a therapist, it is important that you feel comfortable from the start. This means that from that first phone call you are able to start to form trust in the therapist. Are they friendly? Do they take the time to talk with you over the phone or via email, and answer any questions you may have? Do they return your phone call if you leave them a message?
- Often it is a specific issue or sets of issues that send you on the path of looking for a counselor. This means that you are looking for a person that has experience in whatever it is you are looking for. If it is couples therapy, have they seen couples in their practice for a while? What kind of training do they have? There is training beyond the graduate school level that deepens a therapists qualifications in specific areas. When looking for a therapist it is important to ask about the depth of their training and experience.
- Some aspects of finding a therapist are purely pragmatic. It is helpful to have schedules that work well together. If you are only available on the weekend and they only have Wednesday mornings available, this may not be the ideal fit. If you are looking for a counselor on one side of town and they are on the other, this may also create a barrier to attending therapy.
- Even as you attend your first appointment, you are a still assessing if the therapist is the right fit for your situation. It is crucial that you build a trusting relationship with your therapist, if you are going to make progress. Do you believe that they will help you, want to help you? Do you feel comfortable in there office?