It's easy to get discouraged when looking for a therapist. It only takes one negative interaction to turn you off from the whole profession. When you walk into an office feeling vulnerable and seeking help, you're much more likely to be offended and turned off by someone who's not a great fit for you. It's important to consider finding a therapist like dating. Not all therapists are created equal. You might have to meet a bunch of them before you find someone who is right for you, but do not fret, you will find a match.
I had been looking for a good therapist for most of my adult life. I'd see someone a few times and even though they were not helping and I felt worse when I left, I didn't look for a new one because it's difficult to find one with the right times available, in the right neighborhood, who takes your insurance, and who knows how to handle you. It's even more of a pain to have to tell someone new your life story every other week. It's definitely nice to know that someone knows you and that you don't have to constantly stop to give context and explain yourself. But at the same time, the point of therapy is to feel better and have better tools to live a better life. So if you're not finding one because it looks hard, or if you're not finding a new one because it's a pain in the ass, force yourself to do it. Here are six things to consider when looking for the right therapist for you:
If you've decided you'd like to start therapy, promise yourself that you'll find a therapist, no matter how many tries it takes to find the right one. Know that it might be difficult and that it might take time, but commit to it. When you find the right person to talk to, you can change the quality of your life.
Use The Internet
Psychology Today is a great source for finding the right therapist for you. You can search by network and read bios, look at pictures to make sure you're only reaching out to people that are right for you. It's a great way to wade through the options.
Do Your Research
When you find a therapist who seems qualified, do a little background search. See if they've been reviewed by past patients, see if they've had any papers published in psychiatric journals, and see what they're specialized in, all before you make your first contact.
Learn Your Terms
There are all different types of therapy. Cognitive (based on behavioral techniques which teach you to create emotional habits) and analysis (more of an analytical technique in which you and your therapist wok together to figure out the whys) are some of the most prevalent types. Make sure you understand what each time specializes in so you're not surprised by your therapist's methods. When in doubt, ask questions.
Know What You Want
People go to therapy with many different objectives. Maybe you want someone to bounce ideas off of, maybe you need someone to let you vent, maybe you want someone to challenge you, maybe there are specific issues you want to work toward resolving. Try to have an idea of what you're looking for before you start meeting therapists so you have an easier time determining when you've found it.
Lying to your therapist gets you nowhere. Be completely open with what you're looking for, what you're going through, what you've been through and where you want to be. Your therapist needs to know you in order to help you, and more importantly, to know if they're the right person to help you. You need to know yourself, too. It's always good to establish honest habits.
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