How To Find A Therapist: Part 2
After my recent post about "fit" in therapy, you may be wondering how do I find a therapist who is a good fit for me?... Here is the process I recommend to anyone approaching me on this topic in my personal life.
1. Think about who you are. Are you someone who is wanting to dive deeper into how you are wired and how it came to be that way? Or are you someone who needs to solve an immediate problem at hand? Do you benefit from a good coach who will push you, hold you accountable and optimize your performance? Or do you need some deep healing and a place that feels truly safe?
Spend some time thinking about this. Most therapists can do many of these things well but one will be their sweet spot. So don't go to a coach if you are looking to talk about your past. And don't show up to a somatic (body based) therapist if you are looking to talk through your concerns.
2. Look for a therapist that meets some of these needs, but will also be able to take you deeper or push you just a little bit further. I recommend Psychology Today to browse therapists in your area. Get really specific in your search terms and compare, compare, compare. If you have a friend in therapy with someone the LOVE, find out if that therapist could give you a few recommendations based on your needs. Don't be afraid to seek out what you need.
When you get 2-3 potential therapists, make a few phone calls. Get your questions answered. Find out how they work and how it feels to talk with them over the phone. Even set up a couple of first sessions. I would encourage you to be honest about this with the therapists you are meeting with. You are not bothering them or wasting their time. If they have a negative reaction to you seeking the right fit, they are probably not the right person for you.
When I have a potential client who is in the midst of this process and I find out what they are looking for, I make it my mission to partner with them on the process. I talk very frankly about how I work, who I work best with and what they can expect from me. If they resonate with that, we get to work. But if not, I switch gears and start discussing therapists I have relationships who might be a better fit. Why? Because, as a therapist, there is nothing more painful than having a client who is just wrong for me. I can't be all things to all people and the work gets muddy and onerous when the fit is off.
3. The logistics matter. Location. Schedule. Fee. It all matters. This must be sustainable for you and your family. Good therapy will cost something. But if you know you need to be in it for the long haul and the person doesn't accept your insurance, that is something to consider. If you are going to have to rush during your lunch break and then walk right back into the office, this will definitely effect your ability to go deep in you sessions. Fit isn't just about the relationship. It is also about logistics.
4. Commit...for a few weeks. Once you find someone who seems to be a good fit for you, dive in and commit for a least a few sessions. Recently a friend asked me after her first session, "how long do I give this? I am not sure this is the right person for me." That can be a tough question to answer. Here is how I would navigate it if it were me.
-I would ask directly if I have a concern I can name. I believe you can tell a lot about a person if you do this. If they become defensive when I approach them with curiosity and concern, I'd move one.
-I would talk it through with a friend that knows me well and will be honest with me. Am I just getting the buttons pushed that I am there to work on and I'm uncomfortable?
-If I am still not sure I'd give it 4-6 weeks before I decide. If it was still not good, I'd chalk it up to market research and be on my way. Next time I will be more equipped and aware of what just doesn't work for me.
I hope this helps you find the therapist who is just right for you. I'd love to hear if you have used other strategies and found the right person! Leave it in the comments below.
- Autumn Starks, LCSW (about)
Founder and Psychotherapist, Starks Therapy Group
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