The Perfect Fit: How To Find The Right Therapist
Making the decision to seek help can feel liberating and overwhelming all at the same time. Having the safe space to talk to a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings can truly help transform your life. The relationship between client and therapist is very unique, comforting and important. Knowing that there is someone in your life who not only is an expert but also truly cares about you and wants to empower you- feels good.
Talking to family and friends can be helpful to many people, however, they are often unable to offer the same unjudgmental, objective and non-bias feedback that a therapist can. Therapists are trained for years to listen and respond in a way that helps clients understand themselves at a deeper level, feel empowered and begin to cultivate change in their lives.
Therapy can lead to big and positive changes in your life. But, it isn't always easy and there may be times when you feel scared, uncomfortable and challenged. This is a normal part of the process and an uncomfortable but crucial step towards healing.
Because this process requires you to be vulnerable, it is really important to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and safe. Research has shown that the quality of the relationship between the client and therapist is the most important factor for positive change.
Here are some tips on how to find a therapist who will be the perfect fit for you:
DO YOUR RESEARCH: There are millions of therapists out there, but there is always someone who is the right fit for YOU. Going online and reading hundreds of profiles can be overwhelming. It is best to narrow down your search. 1. choose a specialist (example: sex therapist, addiction specialist, family counselor), 2. read their bio/description of their therapeutic approach and if it resonates with you, 3. ask for a free phone consultation to see if you connect with them, 4. don't be afraid to ask questions, 5. check if their license is in good standing. It is your right as a client to know if the therapist has any ethical or legal charges against them. You can easily find this information online through the state's regulatory board.
LEARN ABOUT DIFFERENT TYPES OF THERAPY: There are many different approaches to therapy, which can all lead to great results. However, it is important to take some time to explore which approach you feel will benefit you most. Some therapists work for a structured approach that is more education based and requires clients to do homework assignments (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). While others work with clients to explore their early childhood experiences, access the unconscious and process dynamics within the here-and-now of the therapeutic relationship (Psychodynamic Therapy). A therapist can be trained in many different approaches so it is important to figure out which one is the best fit for you.
SET YOUR BUDGET: Some therapists take insurance while others only accept direct payment. Fees can also vary significantly and you may notice that many clinicians provide sliding scales. It is up to you to decide how much you are willing to spend on therapy. However, it is important to remember that this is an investment into yourself. The value that you place on therapy is often a reflection of how much you value it. It is better to pay more for a therapist that you feel comfortable with and connected to, in the long run, therapy will probably be more successful and you will feel the benefits much quicker. If you choose a therapist with a lower fee- but is not a good fit, it is quite possible that you may end up spending, even more, money/time to reach your goals.
DONT RUSH THINGS: Remember that your therapist is also a person. Just like with anyone else it takes time to get to know and to trust them. You are not expected to dive into the deep end right away if you are not comfortable. Building a relationship with your therapist may take a few sessions but getting to know each other builds the foundation for the rest of the work. Down the road when things get hard or you need to be challenged, trust already needs to be established or therapy will not be effective.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCT: Always trust your gut. If you meet with your therapist for a few sessions and it just doesn't feel right, it's ok to go with someone else. Well trained therapists understand that just like in other relationships- sometimes people just don't "vibe." That is OK. It just means that this wasn't the right fit for you, it's not personal. You should never be made to feel guilty or pressured to stay if you do not feel comfortable. A good therapist will always understand and help by providing you with appropriate referrals.