By: Jenna Cook, M.Ed., LPC, NCC If you’ve arrived at a place where you wonder if therapy could be helpful to you or your family, you’ve made such a brave step, yet probably feel nervous about where to start.
It can feel so vulnerable and daunting to select someone—essentially a stranger— to share the realest parts of your life with. Finding a therapist is a multistep process that can be extra hard when you're in a crisis or not-great emotional space to begin with. Here are some things to consider as you take steps toward finding someone who is right for you.
Where to Start:
Gain an understanding of what exists near you
Do a quick online search for mental health resources that fit your needs
Think about your ideals and non-negotiables:
Determine what you do or do not want in a therapist. Think about:
Their age, gender, race, religion, and other personal/identifying info
Their openness to working with certain issues and populations
Their experience level, license, and education
The approaches, theories, and techniques they use
Their rates and whether or not they accept insurance
Use a matching site to help you narrow it down
Select about 3 clinicians to reach out to and schedule initial visits with
Be honest with all of them that you’re meeting with several other options
Ask questions! You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you
The initial session is typically interview-style, consisting of lots of questions for the clinician to get a broad scope of who you are. This is also a great time for you to get to know them too—their approach, education, techniques, ways of communicating, etc. It is important to be honest with yourself and with the therapist about what you are looking for - and NOT looking for - in the therapy experience. If at any point in the get-to-know-you process you feel like discontinuing with that therapist, let them know. A good therapist will help you find a better fit. The more honest and direct you are, the better your therapist can help. This part of the process brings growth and healing all on its own because you are actively seeking better for yourself. It is okay to feel good and proud for caring about yourself in this way.
Ideas of Questions to Ask a Potential New Therapist:
What made you select this career and your specialization?
What types of clients do you typically see? Who is your ideal client?
From where do you draw most of your inspiration professionally?
Do you take a more directive approach? Or a more explorational, non-directive approach?
How long do clients usually stay with you in therapy?
How much experience do you have in working with ________________? (specific trauma, mental health issue, client demographic or population)
Are there any issues or types clients you do not work with?
How can I contact you in between sessions?
How will I know we are making progress?
If we aren’t the right fit, do you have other professionals you can refer me to?
Gather as much information as you can and use it to help you choose. Openness, honesty toward yourself and others, curiosity, and willingness to dip your toe into discomfort or uncertainty are what you will need to find growth and healing while beginning your therapy journey. It takes immense vulnerability and bravery to initiate but can be so worth it. If something gets in the way of finding an in-person therapist like cost, distance, health concerns, busy schedule, or anxiety, tons of therapists are available via online therapy or phone. Our team of clinicians at The Conative Group is all well-versed in providing teletherapy and are willing to meet you wherever you are to help determine if we are the right fit for you.