How Do You Find A Therapist?
Sometimes finding a therapist can be the hardest part of deciding to start therapy. It can be hard to know where to begin, especially when we’ve all heard stories about not-so-great therapists.
Although online directories make it easy to search and sort, it’s worth considering that many of the more experienced, more in-demand therapists don’t advertise, and instead keep their schedule full based on word-of-mouth alone.
I recommend casting a wide net. Ask people you trust if they know any good therapists (this is actually a great segue into a conversation and connection on how you are really doing). Contact those therapists, and if they are full, ask them to refer you to colleagues they recommend.
Trust your gut and check out a few therapists, if you can, before committing to the work with the one you choose. For more resources on starting therapy, check out my resource on How to Start Therapy or a guide to starting therapy when you’re anxious about starting therapy.
When Should Someone Seek Therapy?
Therapy is helpful for anyone in need of a space to process life experiences. While therapy can be started at any point, for any reason, the American Psychological Association suggests beginning therapy when even the most common daily stressors become overwhelming and difficult to manage. It could be a stressful job, family issues (whether with your spouse/partner or children), past/current trauma beginning to surface, or noticing a decline in physical health or quality of life (because the mind and body are linked!).
Typically, people come to therapy seeking symptom management – which is a great goal and one good therapy can help most people move towards. Good therapy can minimize the impact of trauma on our lives and mental health, help us make meaning from our pain, make healthy, mindful choices about our life, help us build external skills coping skills, and grow internal resilience as we move forward.
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How Do You Tell If A Therapist Is the “Right Fit” for You?
The best advice I can give you is: do a few consults and trust your gut. If you meet with one therapist and aren’t sure it is a good fit, try another. If you can, consult three therapists before choosing one. Since we know that the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client is the best predictor of therapy having a good outcome (Source), it’s worth the time to meet with several potential therapists in order to find a therapist that “clicks” with you.
Trust your gut on this one – it’s easy to overthink it, but after meeting with a few, ask yourself which therapist you WANT to see again, and which therapist you can imagine yourself opening up to. “Right fit” really comes down to a sense of safety, connection, and competence (are they trained/studied in a way that can best address your needs).
Image description for screen readers:
Image of a brown bulletin board on a green background. In the center of the bulletin board is a green note that reads “How to find a therapist.” There are multiple white notes pinned around this note, all telling how to find a therapist:
- Directory of a grad school or professional organization.
- Insurance company’s list of in-network providers.
- Internet search: “therapist for ____ issue in ____ location.”
- Referral from your primary care provider (or general practitioner).
- Good Therapy & Psychology Today websites.
- Ask: teachers, hair stylists (they know!), health care professionals.
- Ask friends (use it to open up a conversation on mental health).
- Open Path (low income/sliding scale listings).