This may be a surprise to some, but there are a number of people who feel compelled to go to therapy but don’t really want to be there. While I certainly think that therapy can be helpful, I have also had many clients who have had really negative experiences with therapy. If you’ve had a past negative experience, or if you’ve never been to therapy and are hesitant to go, here are some tips for finding a therapist.
Do your research.Look online to find out more about a potential therapist. Many have websites or can be found in listings such as Psychology Today or Good Therapy. Many therapists have special training or experience working with a particular issue or group of people. Others are more general in their practice and may not have the resources to support you with a specific area.
- Interview a potential therapist. Have 2-3 questions that you could ask a potential therapist to interview them. Most of us know within 60 seconds whether or not we feel connected with someone and want to continue a conversation or if we want to find a quick way out. Some therapists offer a free phone or in-person consultation – an excellent way for you to find out if you are a good fit for each other before investing a lot of time and money.
- Know what YOUR goals are. What do you want help with? How will you know when you are done with therapy? If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there. It can be helpful to know how a therapist generally works with people struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, etc., so you have a sense of what it would be like to work with them. Share your goals with your potential therapist and ask how they have helped others with similar challenges in the past.
- Be a good consumer. Ask questions about whatever you feel you need to know to make a good decision. You are paying someone to help you with your struggles. Practical concerns like location, hours, and forms of payment / insurance can quickly narrow your choices. Knowing about how a therapist approaches or views issues can also be helpful, if they are things that you are seeking help with. For example, do they believe that addiction is a disease or a moral failing? Are they pro-marriage and believe that you should work out your relationship issues or do they believe that it is “normal” for marriages to routinely end?
- Trust your instincts. You may not be able to articulate to someone else why you feel connected to a particular therapist or why another makes you feel uneasy. Our instincts are our mind’s shorthand way of trying to guide us in what to do. If you feel connected to someone but are not able to work with them (hours, fees, etc. are not workable), ask them for recommendations of others with a similar approach or style. If you are already working with someone and you have questions or concerns, share them with your therapist and ask how they can be addressed. Being open and honest will help both you and your therapist to make the changes needed to achieve your goals.