In Part 3, we looked at some various myths related to counseling and the facts behind those myths. Prior to that in Part 1 and Part 2 we explored taking those first steps. Here is one more fact, no one counselor is right for everyone. So, with all the options out there how do you decide? Here are a few helpful ways to find the therapist for you:
First, determine your needs in a therapist. Sit down and think or even talk it over, with your significant other. What is important to you? Ironing these things out before you pick up the phone can save you time.
Male or Female
Younger or Older
Uses evidenced based approaches (ie. Cognitive Behavior Therapy) that are proven to deliver results
Is knowledgable of Play Therapy for concerns related to younger children
Has experience working with clients with similar concerns as yours (i.e. relationship challenges, anxiety, depression).
Solicit feedback/input from others (school counselor, friends/neighbors, doctors) for recommendations. School counselors and doctors speak and work directly with different therapists at times as they consult one another regarding clients. Your child’s school counselor or your family doctor may be able to give you some insight based on interactions they’ve had with therapists/practices in their area.
Shop around. Run searches online and use additional therapist listing tools (i.e. www.psychologytoday.com) or contact your insurance provider.
Review the therapist/practice website - read the bio on the therapist, read their blogs to get a sense of what the individual and practice are all about.
Have a preliminary conversation with the potential therapist prior to scheduling an initial appointment. Ask direct questions to ensure the therapist meets the needs you identified. Be honest and up front. This greatly helps the therapist too. They can ensure they are the right fit for you as well with honest dialogue. This doesn’t mean telling all the details of your deepest secrets in the first phone call — that can actually be counterproductive and yield to withdrawing or even stopping therapy all together. Share the highlights of what is really bringing you into therapy at this time. This is a chance for you to get a feel for how easy or difficult it is to converse with the therapist.
Finding the right therapist is a critical part of the therapeutic process. Doing the work upfront pays big dividends in the end. The above steps can help avoid wasting your time and money and thus more frustration.
Keep in mind that you are in control at all times. Even if you start and meet once or twice, you can stop at any time. A key point of focus for therapists is providing the best possible care, even if that means recommending someone else to be your therapist. Honest dialogue goes a long way to taking that first step toward getting the help you need and discovering new possibilities that lie ahead.