Unless you have been given an excellent recommendation by someone who is familiar with the options in your community, the process of finding a therapist can be quite daunting. It is likely that you are already feeling stressed out and anxious, and this can only exacerbate the situation you are in.
Does it really matter if you find the “right” therapist? Don’t they all pretty much do the same thing?
It is true that a good therapist will have met certain criteria, including educational training and certification by a trusted professional institution specifically for therapists. Membership in one of these groups binds the counselor to a strict ethical code.
While that is a great first step in finding a therapist, you shouldn’t quit there. Additionally, it is important that the two of you are able to develop a strong rapport. Many different researchers have noted that the biggest factor in therapeutic success is whether or not the patient is comfortable with the therapist and feels free to discuss their inner emotional turmoil. While the type of therapy might influence certain aspects of the therapy, that doesn’t change the importance of the relationship.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give the matter any consideration. Because the approaches to therapy can differ in many ways, it is essential that your therapist uses an angle that is comfortable for you. You can find out more about these in order to help you get a clearer picture of what you might expect from a particular therapist.
Here are a few additional tips to help as well:
Male or female – While some people automatically respond to this question in a particular way, it is a good idea to really think about what you need at this point in your life. For instance, if you are working through issues related to men in your past it might be useful to work with a male therapist who can show you a different side to the gender. On the other hand, you might be too traumatized to do so. This is all up to you.
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings – When you are looking at their website, office and other information related to the therapeutic setting, what are you feeling? Does the room seem cold and clinical, or does that strike you as efficient and clean? Perhaps the therapist’s office looks relaxed and “lived-in,” or maybe you think it looks like a junkyard. As you can see, nothing is right nor wrong, only how it fits with your perceptions.
Trust your gut – Maybe you have an intuitive feeling that a certain counselor is the right one for you. This person might not even be the gender you had originally thought your therapist would be. Even if you don’t understand why your gut is saying something, it bears listening to.
Meet two or more therapists – You don’t have to stick with the first therapist that you visit. In fact, it is a good idea to have an initial meeting with two or three different practitioners. Find out if you can have a shorter consultation appointment, even on the phone, in order to save some dough as you sort through your options. Once you find the perfect fit, go ahead and cancel the rest of your consultation meetings.
Take a chance on someone – Before you throw in the towel, you should attend at least six sessions of therapy. This will give you the opportunity to begin developing a relationship so that you can really see how well you will be able to work together.