With the news at our fingertips on our phones or other devices, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the bad stuff happening in the world. Social media causes us to compare our lives to those that we follow, while just regular life stuff can get heavy and hard to deal with. Thankfully it has become more “normal” to talk about mental health, self-care, and getting help when needed. Perhaps you are going through a hard time at work or in your personal life, or maybe you just feel a little “off” and want to do something about it. Or maybe you’re still feeling funky after experiencing, oh I don’t know, a global pandemic!! Finding a therapist is a great option for getting your mental health on track and being kind to yourself.
How do you go about finding a therapist?
Once you’ve decided you want to go to therapy, how do you even begin finding a therapist or counselor? A quick Google search of therapists in your area is a great place to start. When I was looking for a therapist I searched therapists in my area on PsychologyToday.com. Once you start searching, it’s important to set filters on your search to find therapists within your insurance plan or budget. When searching, look to see what therapists accept your insurance. Some therapists don’t accept insurance but do offer a sliding scale for payment based on income, which is also a great option if you don’t have insurance. All of this information should be found under the therapist’s profile on the website or on their personal website.
What type of therapy are you looking for?
Another thing to consider is what type of therapy you are interested in. Do you want a male or female therapist? Do you want someone that is religious? Do you want a therapist that is LGBTQ+ friendly or is LGBTQ+ themselves? Take a moment to reflect on what is important to you and what qualities in a therapist will help you feel comfortable. Again, all of these details should be listed on the therapists’ profile.
Additionally, some therapists will do art therapy, meditation, or even assign work for you to do outside of your sessions. Are those things important to you? After you’ve found a few therapists that are within your insurance plan, budget, and values, reach out to them. I recommend reaching out to three to five therapists to see if they are accepting new clients. On Psychology Today’s website, you can email the therapist or call them if their number is listed. If you are nervous about reaching out, an email is a great option. You can send the same message to each therapist, and if it’s your first time seeking out therapy, mention that.
Meeting with a therapist for the first time
After you’ve reached out to the therapists you are interested in meeting, they should all get back to you and mention their availability and insurance they accept, as well as if they have a sliding scale. In my experience using Psychology Today, several of the therapists didn’t accept my insurance even though it was listed on their profile, so you should always confirm before moving forward with an appointment.
After finding a few therapists that line up with your needs, book a consultation appointment. Some therapists also offer a free phone consultation, so you can also do that to decide if it is a good fit or not. When I started therapy I met with two therapists in person for a consultation so I could decide if I felt comfortable with either. Therapists are people too, and just with any new person you are meeting, you might jive with some people better than others. I recommend meeting with two or three therapists and going back to the one you feel most comfortable with. Maybe you want a therapist that is very vocal and asks a lot of questions, maybe you want someone who listens and doesn’t talk as much—these initial consultations will help you figure this out. Be patient during this process!
Choosing which therapist to stick with
After your initial consultation, take some time to reflect and decide which therapist you’d like to go back to. When deciding on your therapist, remember that therapy is for you. Don’t feel bad for telling a therapist you’ve met with once that you will not be returning. Just tell them that you found someone that matches your needs and fits your schedule and thank them for meeting with you. You can even send an email telling them this if that is more comfortable for you.
Once you have chosen a therapist and started going regularly, just remember therapy is a process. Some sessions will be super awesome and productive, while some sessions you might leave feeling worse than when you got there. Think of therapy as self-care and time specifically for YOU. I always like to get myself a treat after therapy like ice cream or wine to thank myself for taking care of me. It sounds silly but keeps the good self-care vibes going the rest of the day.
If you’ve decided to start the process of finding a therapist, congratulations on taking that step. Take your time in choosing someone you feel comfortable with, and remember you are in control and call the shots. Good luck!