Five Tips for Finding the Right Therapist for You
Therapy is a great way to improve your mental health, but it’s also a great way to learn more about yourself and improve in other ways. You can discover why you act the way you act or think the way you think, which can drastically change how you experience life in the future.
However, that doesn’t mean success is guaranteed if you decide to take the plunge and meet with a therapist. The person you meet with every week can have a huge impact on how much progress you experience, and how long that progress takes.
No matter what your reason for searching for a therapist, these tips will help you find the one that’s right for you.
Look for Someone Who Stays Up-To-Date
A popular piece of advice when looking for a therapist, or any kind of professional, is to search for someone who has experience. That’s a good piece of advice, but only if it’s also paired with the advice to find someone who stays up-to-date.
As therapists practice year after year, it is easy for them to drift away from the core concepts of important therapies. For example, setting an agenda and assigning homework are both important aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, after therapists practice the therapy year after year, they often do less of both.
Don't be afraid to ask potential therapists about how they stay up-to-date. Do they sign up for training refreshers? Do they keep up with the literature? This will ensure you find a therapist who understands how to conduct important therapies, and you’ll find someone who is familiar with all the latest psychological findings.
Consider Someone Who Specializes in Certain Areas
It is important to consider therapists who specialize in certain areas, depending on your needs. Working with a therapist on anxiety issues will be very different than if you’re working with one on an interpersonal relationship with a spouse or family member.
You should also consider theoretical orientation. That includes:
- Psychodynamic therapists are a good choice for those who want to uncover an unconscious motivation for behavior.
- Cognitive therapists can help you change your conscious thoughts.
- Solution-oriented and behavior therapies are perfect for those who want to avoid talking about parental relationships.
- Family-oriented systems therapists are a good choice if you want to work on family issues.
Male or Female
Both men and women make great therapists. However, that doesn’t mean you should feel bad for preferring one over the other. Searching for a therapist is one situation where you shouldn’t feel sexist if you prefer to meet with just one gender.
You might be more comfortable working with a therapist of the same gender, as it will make you feel more comfortable sharing sensitive personal information. Others may feel more comfortable working with a therapist of the opposite sex because that’s who they’re used to communicating with in their everyday lives.
No matter what the reason, you shouldn’t feel bad for refusing to work with one gender because you have a preference for the other.
See If They Offer a Consultation
It can be intimidating to schedule an initial appointment with a therapist you haven’t met before. Instead of scheduling an appointment, ask if they offer consultations.
With a consultation, you can have a less formal conversation with a therapist you’re interested in working with. You should think carefully about how comfortable you feel, how open you’re willing to be in their presence, and how you feel after the meeting.
If they don’t offer consultations, ask if they can do a quick interview on the phone. It can be a great way to get to know a therapist without having to go into the office at all.
Consider Reviews and Complaints
It’s always a good idea to consider reviews and complaints. You’ll find reviews for many therapists and their offices online, but you should also ask friends and family if they have worked with any therapists they would recommend.
While you're at it, you should check to see if the therapist is licensed. Although not all therapists are licensed, if the one you’re interested in does hold a license, you can see online if there have been any complaints filed against them.
Not all therapists are created equal. Just because you don’t work well with one doesn’t mean you won’t work well with another. Follow these five tips and you can increase your chances of working with the right therapist from the very beginning.