When you’re first entering the world of psychotherapy, you might feel overwhelmed by all the decisions you’ll have to make.
Perhaps the most important, after choosing to seek help, is picking your therapist.
Finding the therapist that can best address your particular needs is crucial, as it can determine how effective psychotherapy will be for you. If the therapist doesn’t have experience with your specific problems, they may be less able to help you. If you are uncomfortable with the therapist, you may not feel comfortable opening up, which means you might not find the experience helpful.
Many factors play a role in choosing a therapist, so it can be a difficult choice. Money, accessibility, and other issues narrow the field even before you assess what the therapist has to offer. Fortunately, the tips below can help you with this critical decision.
Go Through Your Insurance Provider
Psychotherapy is often expensive and perhaps even unaffordable for many people. One of the first steps in finding a therapist is making sure you can afford them.
If you cannot or choose not to pay for psychotherapy entirely out-of-pocket, consult your insurance provider to find out what therapists are covered. From there, you can narrow down the list based on the factors below.
Alternately, if you have a therapist in mind, you can ask them what insurance plans they accept.
Visit the Therapist’s Website
A reliable therapist’s website should have information about themselves, including their education, certifications, and the type(s) of therapy they specialize in. Some of the credentials that may help you decide if the therapist can serve your needs include:
- LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor
- LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- LEP: Licensed Education Psychologist
- LPCC: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
- LCP: Licensed Clinical Psychologist
The therapist’s website will probably also describe what types of therapy they specialize in, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychodynamic therapy. While some people prefer a particular style of therapy, studies have found the patient-therapist relationship is more important than the type of therapy.
Before selecting a therapist, take in all the available information about them and ensure they are well-suited to help you.
Ask for a Referral
If you know that a trusted friend, family member, or colleague has seen a therapist and is open to talking, ask them about their experience. If your reasons for seeking psychotherapy are similar and the person you ask recommends their therapist, that is a good place to start. If not, you may gain deeper insight into the type of therapist you are not looking for.
Aside from friends, family, and colleagues, your primary care provider is another good source for reliable referrals. Don’t hesitate to inquire about possible therapists the next time you visit the doctor’s office.
Use an Online Database
You may need to find a therapist without using a referral or your insurance provider’s network. If this is the case, many mental health organizations maintain up-to-date, searchable databases that allow you to find therapists in your area.
If you use an online database, be sure it is reliable. Trusted sources, such as the American Psychological Association, are a good place to start.
Use Local Resources
You may be able to explore your community for additional resources. Many educational institutions offer counseling centers and resources to seek external help for students. For employees, companies often have workplace wellness or employee assistance programs that provide a list of available therapists. Many communities also have local advocacy organizations that offer individual or group therapy sessions.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have narrowed your search down to a couple of potential therapists, it’s time to call each one. Many therapists offer a short consultation before scheduling an appointment.
A simple phone call can provide crucial indicators as to whether or not the therapist is right for you. If you feel the call goes well, then go ahead and schedule the appointment and meet with the therapist.
Throughout each of these steps, keep in mind that you have specific needs and reasons for seeking a therapist. The resources that work for someone you know may not work for you.
Have patience and do not rush during this process. Finding the right therapist can be difficult, but your patience will pay off.
At Dr. Quintal and Associates Counseling Center, our team of professional counselors is here to help. If you are seeking mental health counseling, feel free to get in touch. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and get one step closer to relief.