You have made the decision to go to therapy. How do you choose a therapist? You can find names on the internet or your insurance provider list and they all have an alphabet soup behind their names. The choices can be overwhelming, especially because you are going to be sharing intimate, personal details of your life. Here are five things to consider when looking for a new therapist.
- Ask around. Chances are there is someone in your social circle that has tried therapy before. Although it can be uncomfortable, ask people you trust, such as a friend, family member, spiritual leader, or doctor. You can learn a bit about the provider instead of blindly choosing one from your insurance provider list or a website.
- Call several therapists. Hopefully you can find multiple referrals. Feeling comfortable with who you are working with is crucial for success. You can often get a good first impression in the initial phone call. Look for someone willing to answer your questions about their practice, specialties, approach, etc. Do not be afraid to ask those questions. They should also be upfront about their office policies and fees
- Make sure they are licensed. This is important for two reasons. First, licensing boards provide professional oversight regarding ethical practice. Second, it means that not only has the provider earned an appropriate degree, but they continue to participate in ongoing education to stay well-informed about current trends.
- Find someone who works with the types of issues you are wanting to work on. Not all therapists work with the same issues. Asking about their areas of specialization in the initial phone call is important. Having a degree does not mean the therapist is an expert in all types of issues. Even therapists who maintain a more general practice are not experts on everything. Have a good idea about what you want to accomplish in therapy and find out about the therapist’s professional experience.
- If you are not comfortable with the therapist you have chosen, ask for a referral. We don’t “click” with everyone we meet. That is absolutely okay – you are under no obligation to continue. Ethical therapists understand this and will not be offended. In fact, they will be happy to offer you the names of other professionals, based on your needs and personality style. If a therapist tries to push you to continue, that is a significant red flag. You may visit with a few therapists before you find one you are most at ease with.
Seeing a therapist can be a really beneficial experience. Finding one can be intimidating. These five considerations will hopefully make the search less anxious. Best of luck in your search!