A Simple Guide to Finding the Right Therapist
by Haneen Ahmad, MSW, LICSW
Hey there! First off, if you are reading this it means you are considering therapy, good for you! If you are looking to make a change, therapy can be a transformational step in the right direction.
I especially hope you are a mom reading this… I cannot stress enough how many times mothers bring their kids (or their spouse) in when in fact they also REALLY need the support of a therapist. I get it, you’re a mom, it’s super difficult to find the time to fit in a therapy appointment. But chances are if you manage to squeeze it into your already busy schedule you will be so glad you did. So often a mom comes in to talk about her child or teen and I hear, “oh wow sounds like I really need someone to talk to as well!” Yep, ya do!
The majority of clients that walk through my door have some experience with prior therapy. Whether they are an adult or kiddo.
Whether their previous experience has been good or not so good one thing is vital to the success of our therapy together. The client therapist connection.
Think about the type of person you connect well with and makes you feel most comfortable. Do you need someone thats direct, do you respond well to someone who is laid back, etc. Chances are you know someone in therapy. Don’t hesitate to ask them for recommendations. Most of my clients find me by word of mouth.
Check out Psychology Today or ask your insurance for a list of therapist they are in network with. Good things to explore when you call to set up an initial appointment are fees/sliding scale options, availability, and a gist of their retention rates.
Don’t be afraid to ask the therapist plenty of questions. Other things to consider asking about include but are not limited to:
- What’s their ideal client or niche and how often do they see clients
- Do they focus on changing behaviors, beliefs or do they focus on the process?
- Do they do free phone consultations?
- Will you get specific tools – like how to communicate, handle anger, tools for sobriety?
- If they aren’t a match, what happens then? I usually try to match them with someone that might be a good fit once I know what they are looking for.
- How do they describe their approach?
There are tons of varying approaches to therapy, and each therapist has their preferences. Consider asking what the therapist’s preferred approach is. Here are a few types:
- Cognitive behavioral – looks at beliefs and behaviors
- Solution-focused – focuses on positive solutions
- Psychodynamic – focuses on the impact of childhood
- Somatic – focuses on the connection between the body and mind
- Gestalt – is a more active approach, includes role-plays, and rehearsing
- Humanistic – focuses on the deeper meaning of life, self-actualization
- Holistic/Integrative – non-traditional therapies like hypnotherapy, guided imagery
No one therapist is a good fit for all. Upon meeting with a therapist take in the vibe you get from them, listen to your gut and let it guide you. Once you have choose a therapist it’s important to build strong rapport with them. Your therapist should be skilled at this. This leads to feeling safe enough to talk about difficult things and aids in building trust with your therapist.
A therapist should not:
- Interrupt you often in session
- Talk far more than you in session
- Violate confidentiality (there are a few exceptions)
- Engage in inappropriate behavior (sexual or otherwise)
Notice if any of the above red flags show up, if so it’s probably time to find a new therapist. An possibly consider making a report to the licensing board depending on the circumstances.
Alright! Now that we have some basics covered about how to find a therapist and what to say, get out there make the phone calls, ask the questions, and engage in those life changing conversations.
Best of luck,