Finding the right therapist is sometimes as hard as finding a new best friend.
Finding a therapist can be the one of the most nerve-wracking things you ever do. These tips can help ease your fears about entering the therapeutic relationship.
The therapy relationship is one of a kind. Never would you ask someone to listen to your deepest, darkest secrets upon meeting them for the first time.
What I've learned from being a client and a therapist.
If your therapist doesn't have a therapist, then there's something wrong. Most people don't realize how important it is for a therapist to spend time as a client.
When I started looking for a therapist, I honestly did not know where to start. Even though I had best friends who were therapists, and I had a large network of colleagues and mentors, I was at a loss for how to find the right person for me. I'll be honest, the first place I went to was Psychology Today. As I scrolled through pages of profiles, I saw some people I knew personally and some that I'd heard of through my work. When I saw my person, I immediately felt drawn to her. I think it must have been her picture. She looked approachable and humble. Most of the time, I feel comfortable with her, but sometimes I do get a little irritated when she challenges my behaviors. I know she does it because she cares, though. I still see her when things get really tough.
Although my instincts were right, and my therapist was a good match for me, that doesn't always happen. Most of the time, insurance plays a role in who you select. It's also important to select someone who has knowledge and expertise in dealing with your specific issues. It's sometimes hard to decipher who does what and how well they do it.
The real test is when you meet your therapist for the first time. You can tell a lot about the therapist's personality by looking at body language. Does the therapist seem relaxed and comfortable? Those are important observations. Can you follow the dialogue, or does the therapist use fancy words? Do you feel comfortable in the therapy space? Perhaps the couch is uncomfortable or the room is too cold. Maybe the lights in the room are too bright. All of those things matter. Your level of comfort in the space often determines how much you will share.
It's important to ask the therapist questions on the first visit. Of course, you'll want to know about credentials and experience. Is the therapist licensed and trained in specific therapeutic principles? How much does the therapist know about physical health and well-being? A therapist is not the same as a life coach. Remember to ask what training and education your therapist has completed.
The therapist should not disclose too much personal information. After all, the therapy is about you. As time goes on, you will learn to trust and confide in your therapist. If after a couple of sessions you still feel closed off and uncomfortable, it's important to communicate how you are feeling. There may be ways for the therapist to approach things differently.
Finding the right therapist for you might take some trial and error, but it's important for you to feel heard and understood. Remember that those who genuinely care about you sometimes tell you things you don't want to hear. Resist the temptation to terminate treatment with your therapist if you hear a few things that make you uncomfortable. If you stick it out and remain open-minded, you will find that the best type of therapy is when you are open to learning new, and sometimes uncomfortable, things about yourself.
So, there you have it. Feel free to ask any questions you have about treatment by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can find my profile on Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/profile/753369. If you would like to meet me via videoconferencing or have a phone conversation before coming in for your first session, please do not hesitate to ask. I am always open to meeting with you virtually ahead of time. I can be reached by phone at (318) 707-2080. I look forward to your call.