If you've ever sought help from a mental health professional, you know just how important it is to find the right fit. Just like any other kind of relationship, you want to feel comfortable and understood by your therapist, especially when it comes to digging through the hard stuff. But how exactly do you find the right therapist when there are so many out there? A lot of people rely on trial and error, but that can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining, especially if you're trying to work through a serious situation or traumatic experiences. Generally speaking, therapy doesn't work over night, so if you're moving between therapists, it can feel like you're only lengthening the time it takes to build up a a bond and familiarity.
Luckily, you can use the Internet to help you find a good fit when it comes to a mental health professional. Considering we use the Internet for pretty much everything (admit it: When was the last time you actually called a restaurant and placed an order?), it's not surprising to me that we can also use the net to help us ease the process of finding a therapist.
It's worth noting that even with the apps below, there's no guarantee you'll be happy with your match; nothing beats in-person communication, and even if you hit things off initially, it's possible you'll still want to transfer to a new therapist at some point. But that's OK! When seeking mental health help, remember: You come first, and you deserve to have your mental health needs meet just as you would expect if you had a physical ailment.
CounselChat is a new online platform that connects users with therapists, completely for free. As a user, you can post an anonymous question and evaluate the responses you receive from various mental health professionals on the site. From there, you can connect with the therapist that fits the best based on your needs. This resource is also nice for therapists looking to build their client-base: Instead of putting energy into marketing their services, they can focus on actively helping people and establishing good fits with clients from the start, which is (ideally) the foundation for a long-term relationship.
This app is basically a little black book of mental health professionals in your area. It's extremely straight forward: You can choose the type of mental health professional you're looking for (a psychologist, a life coach, a couples counselor, etc), and the app brings up a list of qualified professionals in your area. The app is available for free on both iOs and Android.
If you've ever wanted to talk to someone but haven't wanted (or been able) to leave the house, this might be the app for you. TalkSpace connects you with a mental health professional via their app, enabling you to have therapy sessions via text. The service costs $25 per week, which is comparable to the co-pay many people pay to visit a therapist face-to-face. Of course, a virtual therapy session isn't going to be the right fit for everyone, but depending on your needs, it might be a good thing to download and check out.
If you're experiencing a crisis and need to talk to a mental health professional immediately, the Crisis Text Line might be your best bet. Through a simple text message, you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor who is available in live-time. The service is free and anonymous. The site does specify that their service is available on multiple occasions; however, it's a crisis line, which means it's not meant to replace long-term therapy. Response times are generally under five minutes.
Your mental health matters, and just like you should have an open, honest relationship with your physician, you should be comfortable and feel safe with your therapist. It's always OK to seek out help, and if you're realizing you're not a good match with your current counselor, it's OK to look elsewhere and find a better fit. At the end of the day, you're the one who has to live with your mental health, and it's important to prioritize your health and happiness to the best of your ability, because your health and happiness matter.