Today's post is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice. Read on for Roxie's best tips for finding a good local therapist...
When looking for a therapist, it is important to find a good match. By having a positive relationship with your therapist, you will find yourself growing as a person and striving to reach your goals. Research also supports that the relationship between the therapist and client are the most important factor in positive client outcomes. But this venture can be more difficult than it sounds. There are many exceptional mental health professionals in the field; however, since we all have different personalities and values, not every therapist will match with every client. Here are a few pointers that will help you find a good therapist who matches your personality:
1 | Research various theoretical orientations
The different types of therapy available may seem foreign to someone who has not studied psychology. That’s why it’s a great idea to educate yourself before looking for a therapist. Are you looking for a therapist who mainly gives you strategies and techniques for behavior change? A CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) approach may be a great fit for you. Are you interested in delving deep and strengthening your mind-body connection? A somatic therapist might be the right choice. Do you want to explore the family dynamics that are contributing to your current situation? Psychodynamic therapy could be best. GoodTherapy does a great job describing the various treatment orientations. Once you have found a therapy approach that resonates with you, then you can seek out therapists who use that orientation. Often psychotherapists use a combination of different approaches, so keep this in mind while you search.
2 | Get word-of-mouth recommendations
Personal referrals are often useful in finding a therapist, since you can be certain that someone who you know had a positive experience with this person. Since you want to be sure you find a therapist you can trust, it is often beneficial to talk to your friends or other care professionals to see if they have any first-hand recommendations. However, getting a referral from a family member may sound like a great idea but can be tricky due to conflicts of interest. I’d recommend first going to your doctor or another helping professional who you trust to ask for a referral. They’re likely to know someone in the community to refer you to.
3 | Go online
You can do a simple Google search and browse therapist’s websites, use a therapist listing site – such as PsychologyToday or GoodTherapy – or even check Yelp to search for a therapist in your area. You can view the profiles of mental health professionals, read their biographies and reviews, look at their websites, etc. This will help you determine if a therapist is a good match for you. Be sure to get a sense of whether you believe this individual will be able to relate to you and that they have experience working with whatever it is that you’re seeking therapy for.
4 | Utilize free consultations
Most therapists offer a free 10-30 minute phone consultation. Take advantage! This is a good time to ask your potential future therapist a few questions and to see how they respond. Does this person make you feel at ease or nervous? Do they listen to you or cut you off? When you ask about their specialties and experience, do they sound confident or unsure? Put your antenna on and feel out whether this seems like someone you could open up to about your problems. I recommend narrowing your search down to about 3 therapists you resonate with. Set up phone consultations with all 3 of them and see who you get the best vibe from. Then schedule with that person!
5 | Read blogs
Many therapists now write blogs for their websites to connect with clients before the first phone call. Reading a therapist’s blog can give you a lot of information about the therapist’s values, professional and personal interests, theoretical orientation and whether they have lived-experience with your particular issue. This can be immensely helpful! You also might learn some helpful tools for your own personal development.
When you are in therapy, ensure that you feel understood by your therapist. Therapy is not always easy, so it is important for you to feel as if you can be honest and open with your therapist. Therapy can be a long and difficult journey, so it is essential that you feel comfortable with your therapist. Find a therapist who is reliable. A therapist who is unorganized and cancels sessions can make you feel frustrated and you could lose trust in them, restricting the ability to build a strong therapeutic relationship. These tips should make finding a therapist a tad easier! If you have any further suggestions, leave them in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you! How did you find your therapist? Are you happy with your selection?