I’ve heard it said that finding a therapist who is a good fit for you is a little like dating (ugh!). It doesn’t have to be as stressful, though – if you’re anything like me, you might not actually enjoy dating.
With these quick tips, you can start your search for the right therapist with criteria already in mind. You’ve done half of the work in finding a therapist if you already know what you’re looking for!
THE INITIAL SEARCH
Your initial criteria to start searching for a therapist may have to do with cost, location, insurance, and more practical concerns. Start by noting all these logistics, and the basic criteria, that is easy to figure out.
If you choose a therapist who is a 45 minute drive away, and you hate driving, the stressful drive could end up taking away the benefits of therapy!
Keep your search range within a reasonable, convenient distance to you. Perhaps that means your therapist is two blocks away from your job, or perhaps it means their office is down the street from your house.
If it’s stressful to pay for therapy, and it costs more than you can afford, the stress of paying could lessen the benefits of therapy!
Choose a therapist you can afford – that may be full fee private pay ($ nice work if you can afford it!), sliding scale private pay (can range anywhere from $30 to $100 per session), or by using insurance.
TIP: If you know you definitely need to use your insurance, start your search by looking on your insurance providers directory.
Other basics or logistics to consider are whether you’d like a male/female/non-binary therapist, if it matters to you how old or young they are, or if their office hours / availability need to be specific to a certain schedule.
Once you’ve narrowed down these criteria, you can start your search on google, but a better way to find more specific results right away is by using one of the following therapist directories:
You can also ask friends and family, your doctor, or look at a local directory for suggestions. Many cities have local therapist directories, and many niches or types of therapists have more limited, specific directories.
YOU’VE GOT IT NARROWED DOWN, NOW …
It’s time to look more specifically at what the therapists near you are offering so that you find a therapist who is a good fit for your needs. Navigating different types of therapy offered and knowing what might be the right fit for you is challenging without a background in psychology or counseling. Keep in mind that above all, it’s most important that you are comfortable with your therapist.
Let’s make it simple.
- Do you want homework, thought logs, or an analysis of what triggers your thoughts? Go for a CBT, or cognitive-behavioral therapy, therapist.
- Are you looking for an analysis of logical/rational versus emotional thinking, with some of that CBT work mentioned? Check out options for DBT, or dialectical-behavioral therapy.
- Do you want clear, immediate solutions to pressing problems that are bothering you right now? Solution-focused therapy, is brief and doesn’t include ‘analysis’ or processing.
- Is talking to process, in a safe space without a lot of structure or directives, the most helpful to you? Check out humanistic, person-centered, or Jungian therapy.
- Are you looking for an understanding of how the context of your life (socio-economic status, gender, culture, etc) influences your every day, your relationships, and your functioning? Do you want the empowerment to manage these influences? Then check out post-modern or narrative therapies.
- Do you believe that the way we view something impacts our relationship to it? Do you believe we often miss the meaning or the ‘good’ parts? Check out post-modern or narrative therapies.
Please note that this is an incredibly brief overview and doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of therapy offerings. It’s meant to help you get started to find a therapist who is a good fit for you.
SET UP SOME PHONE CALLS & GET A FEEL FOR WHO EACH THERAPIST IS
Many therapists will offer free 20-30 minute consultations. These are important so you and the therapist know you’re a good fit.
YOU should be picky about what therapist you’d like to work with, and they should be picky about you too! If they lack the skills or experience to help you, they should be clear and refer you elsewhere. Ask them about their experience and training. For instance, I’ve frequently referred clients who come to me for help with substance abuse. I have extensive experience in anxiety and identity, but I don’t have the specific training or experience to help with severe substance abuse.
GO TO ONE SESSION
It’s okay to go to one session and decide that that therapist is not for you. You’re not obligated to return, and their feelings won’t be hurt. We always appreciate a heads-up if this is the decision you’ve made. Then, we can (1) understand what happened and/or (2) make sure you do find a therapist who can help you.
We’ve made a helpful checklist to assist you in your search.