Seeking help when you’re going through a difficult time in your life can be hard. You might feel embarrassed, intimidated, scared and confused. Maybe you already had experience with therapy and it wasn’t a good fit for you. But don’t let these things stop you from getting help.
Not all therapist have the same style of doing therapy. And a lot of factors come into play when trying to find a therapist. Here are a few things to look for that can help you find the right therapist for you.
1. Make sure you and the therapist are a good match.
Many studies have been done that show that the most important thing in therapy is the client-therapist relationship. You’re going to be talking about very personal things. So you have to make sure you feel comfortable with your therapist. I really believe you can tell from the first session, sometimes by the first contact, if you and your therapist are a good match. It is completely okay, actually it is your right, to look for another therapist if you feel that it’s not a good fit. And trust me, the therapist will appreciate this too. “Interview” the therapist before you make an appointment to ask about their therapy style, as well as their experience with specific issues. It’s also ok to schedule with a few therepists and see which one you prefer.
2. Seek a therapist that has experience and training in the area you want to improve.
Check to see if the therapist works with, or at least has some experience, with the issue you’re having. If you’re looking for help with post-partum depression for example, you want to see if the therapist has some experience with women’s issues. If your 5-year-old is struggling with a trauma, you want to seek a play therapist or someone who works with children and trauma. See a marriage and family therapist for relationship problems.
You can get some information about the therapist’s backgroung off their website or simply ask when you contact them.
3. Check insurance benefits.
If you’re going to be using your health insurance to help pay for therapy sessions, check to see how many sessions you’re allowed to attend. Some insurances have unlimited sessions and others only give you a certain amount of sessions that they’ll cover. A lot of insurances have different rules for medical services versus behavioral health services. I only warn you about this because one of the worst experience is to find a therapist you really like, only to be forced to stop attending because insurance did not cover sessions and you can’t afford to continue. It’s very frustrating when this happens.
4. Make sure the therapist provides appointment hours that fit your schedule.
Psychotherapy is a process and requires multiple sessions. Sometimes just a few sessions, other times for months or years. Again, you don’t want to start with a therapist you like to only have to stop going because you can never fit in appointments into your schedule.
5. Ask around.
We’re more likely to buy something or go somewhere that someone we know recommends. We already know them and somewhat can trust their judgement. Ask people who you trust if they can recommend a therapist. This also includes reading online reviews. Hearing someone else’s experience could provided some comfort in reaching out to the therapist.
Reaching out for help can bring up uncomfotable feelings. But think about how much more you can deal with your current stressors all alone. You don’t need to figure things out alone. Counselors are here to help.
About Liza J Alvarado, MS, LPC
Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in PA.