People seek out professional therapy usually when they have experienced adversity such as a break-up or are suffering from anxiety, depression other stressful issues. However, it is also ok and even advisable to seek our a therapist for personal growth, or to sort out a situation that you would like to approach with some objectivity.
Finding a therapist that you like, but also one that “gets you” is often very challenging. Here are some things to consider when you begin your search:
Strategies for Finding a Therapist
Word of Mouth
One of the best ways to find a therapist? Ask your friends or family if they or someone they know has worked with a therapist they like. Unfortunately, stigma toward mental health might cause some people to hesitate sharing this knowledge, but this can still be an effective way to start.
Insurance Preferred Providers
If you have insurance, you can check which providers. You might be reimbursed for some or all of your treatment, according to your particular plan. Keep in mind if you use your insurance, you must be labeled/diagnosed by the provider in order to be reimbursed. There is currently a concern that these labels, though helpful at times, may eventually be a problem if health care/insurance companies should make them subject to pre- existing conditions that could preclude you being covered.
It’s Okay to Shop Around
Just as with anything you might purchase as a consumer, you may have to meet with or ask to speak with a potential therapist before you can make a more informed decision about whether to work with them or not. Also, it is ok to see a therapist and make a decision after a few visits.
Here Are Some Things to Ask
- Ask about the therapist’s credentials and experience?
- Do they have an area of expertise?
- What types of Interventions do you use?
- What are your costs, including what insurance covers, how much are the co-pays and deductibles?
- Will they be available between sessions for emergencies or important communications?
Once You Have Met With a Therapist/Some Things You Should Expect
It is important that the therapist establish rapport with you. This will help you feel more comfortable as you share intimate details of your life. Sharing your story will help the therapist determine the best way to work with you. Both an Assessment/Evaluation should be completed within 3 sessions and a treatment plan outlining your goals and how they are to be accompanied based upon that assessment should be written and signed by you.
These are just a few tips that should help you in your search for a therapist. Best of luck and congratulations on your decision to ask for help! A positive therapy experience goes a long way towards recovering from an emotional health challenge. Taking the first step and making that call, though scary, is one of the hardest parts. Working on yourself is a lifetime endeavor that sometimes requires a little help and guidance from an expert. The rewards can definitely be worth it.
Jim McErath, LCSW-R is a licensed mental health therapist in the state of New York
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