Deciding to start therapy can be a huge step in the right direction. Talking to a professional can help you increase your self-awareness and self-esteem. It can also improve how you cope with certain stressors present in everyday life.
That said, finding the right therapist isn't always an easy process. Like any relationship, therapy is intimate and personal, and it requires a sense of safety and trust to be effective. Let's get into the best tips for finding the best match.
Think About Your Goals
What do you want to work on in therapy? What are your main priorities? You should ask yourself these questions before you start contacting various professionals.
All therapists have different specialties and areas of expertise. For instance, a trauma therapist may not be beneficial if you want to work on your marriage. It's okay if you have several different goals, but it's a good idea to rank them in order of importance. Doing so can help you narrow down your search.
Consider Your Preferences
Do you want to work with a man or woman? Does age matter to you? Would you prefer someone who shares the same religious beliefs as you? If you're in recovery, do you want someone who has a past history of addiction themselves?
Some people have specific needs when it comes to finding the right therapist. Others don't have much of a defined preference. It doesn't matter which camp you fall into, but if you have particular requirements, consider them when you start looking.
Check With Your Insurance
Research shows that, while many Americans value and want mental health services, the cost of treatment often represents a prohibitive factor. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance must offer coverage for mental health and addiction services. That said, the coverage can range dramatically.
If you're concerned, double-check with your health insurance ahead of time to determine coverage, copays, and deductibles. They can also provide you with a referral list with in-network therapists.
Keep in mind that some therapists also offer low-cost or sliding scale services to clients facing financial distress. You can always discuss this option during your initial intake process. Even if a particular therapist cannot lower their fees, they will offer you appropriate referrals for therapists within your budget.
Ask For Recommendations
Chances are you probably ask your friends and family for recommendations all the time. If they have a therapist they like, it might be worth contacting that therapist for a consultation.
Keep in mind that therapy is confidential. Even if a therapist treats your partner or friend, it's against their protocol to reveal any information about their work.
This option may not work for everyone. For instance, if you feel uncomfortable meeting with someone you know also meets with, you may feel hesitant to open up or share your feelings. This can hinder the process.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
Your feelings may be the best indicator in determining the effectiveness of your therapy. Even if a professional appears to be a perfect fit on paper, that doesn't mean they are perfect for you. The opposite can also be true. You may dismiss a potential therapist only to realize they have exactly what it takes to help you!
During your first sessions together, try to pay attention to how:
comfortable you feel talking about your feelings or experiences.
sensitive you believe your therapist is to your needs.
challenged you feel to grow as a person.
safe you feel in sharing intimate details about your life.
hopeful you feel about the future.
Scoring high on several of these areas likely indicates that you've found a good match. Remember that therapy, above all else, is a relationship. It's not meant to be perfect. Your therapist is a human, just like you. With that in mind, they have extensive training in supporting, understanding, and guiding people through difficult times.
Try a Few Sessions
Unless the first session feels like a complete, irreparable disaster, it's a good idea to meet with a therapist a few times before making a judgment call.
Good therapy typically starts slowly. It takes time to build safety and trust. Subsequently, it takes time for your therapist to truly understand you and your needs. Like any relationship, it's normal for things to feel somewhat awkward or stiff at first.
If you begin feeling more comfortable as time progresses, this is a good sign. It likely means that you feel supported and validated in your sessions.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Right Therapist
Having both patience and an open mind is essential when finding the right therapist. Good therapy tends to be worth the wait! Don't give up if you haven't found your match just yet.
At The Resurface Group, we take pride in providing comprehensive clinical treatment for our clients. Our therapists are qualified, trained, and passionate about working with a variety of issues. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.