How to Find a Great Therapist 6.8.22
So you're thinking about starting your own therapy with a professional. But where do you begin? How do you know if this person is a right fit for you? Just these two questions can make the steps to finding a therapist for your specific concern daunting and feeling like much more work than you want to give. But putting in a little work into your search will likely yield you the results you're looking for -- and deserve! Therapists are not "one size fits all," despite what our culture often likes to perpetuate, to ensuring you're asking the right questions from the beginning could possibly help you to find that perfect fit and get your personal growth journey off to a great start!
In fact, the comfort level you have with your therapist is the strongest predictor of your therapy being successful, as when you feel safe, heard and comfortable with the person you're talking to, you'll be more likely to open up, discuss your true feelings, and the work will feel more meaningful to you.
Here are the common questions you should ask yourself as you search for your therapist before you set up that first appointment: 1. What type of therapist would I be comfortable working with? Are you wanting a specific gendered therapist? Non-binary? A part of a specific community (i.e., LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, etc.)? If you have some difficulties talking with a specific gender, for example, it may be best to work with a gendered therapist you feel is easier to talk with. Or maybe you do not want to have to risk having to try and explain your life experiences to someone who will not understand (e.g., a BIPOC client speaking with a white therapist), adding extra layers to your overall work. It is okay to be picky with the type of therapist you'd feel comfortable talking with!
2. Do you want your therapist to have a specialty they treat? Are you seeking someone who can help remove the trauma still lingering from a childhood event? A trauma-informed therapist is likely someone you want to seek out. Finding yourself struggling with aspects of your sexuality? A certified sex therapist would be a recommended search item for your therapist. Therapists are all trained to treat the common struggles within mental health (depression and anxiety) but therapists will often get extra training in certain, or specific, areas that help them to gain a specific competency in an area (for example: treating OCD versus mild anxiety). Looking for a therapist who specializes in treating aspects (or the whole) of the reason you want to seek therapy could help you find someone who helps you grow in the specific areas you're seeking the most relief from.
3. Am I wanting to use my insurance or can I afford to pay out of pocket?
It is estimated up to one third of psychotherapists in private practice do not accept insurance -- and often those who are more specialized do not accept insurance. This is often because of the limitations insurance companies put on therapists behind the scenes and the therapist is not wanting to have limitations or restrictions on your therapy (this is a primary reason the Minnesota therapists of Obsidian Counseling do not accept insurance). Many of these same providers offer sliding scale or reduced fee costs for their sessions, so it doesn't hurt to ask if they have this available if you've found a person you want to work with but they do not accept insurance.
Calling the member number on the back of your insurance card and giving the representative the specific qualities you're looking for in a therapist could help them narrow down options to those therapists within your network that are able to treat the specific issue you're looking for.
Once you've found, what you think initially, is going to be a good match for you, the next step is setting up the initial appointment. While the first session is often spent going over all of the paperwork-y type of things, ensuring you understand your
rights as a client, and beginning to understand what you are coming in for, it is important to then begin to assess for yourself your comfort level with your therapist. As mentioned before, your comfort level is the strongest indicator that this professional relationship you're building will help you in your growth process!
Typically clients know after the first session or two if they feel their therapist is a good fit. If you have a good fit with your therapist you: > Will find it easier to open up about your struggles and what you want from therapy. It doesn't mean that the initial or beginning of therapy won't feel a little awkward (afterall, you're opening up to a relative stranger!) but that feeling of discomfort should go away some; > Will feel you can believe your therapist is acting in your best interest, fully listens to you, and is able to validate you; > Should feel your therapist understands what you're saying, without judging you.
All of these points will allow you to open up as much as you are able to better receive the help and guidance you're searching for. But, with all of this said, therapists are not "one size fits all," so if you do not feel you can be honest or open up with your therapist after the first initial sessions, it is okay to look for someone else!
Check out the website to find out more about me, my work and how to be in touch. Send questions my way! www.ocmn.org Warmest Wishes,
Jessica VerBout, M.A., LMFT, CST