How to Choose the “Right” Therapist
Finding the right therapist can be overwhelming, especially during a stressful time. Many people seek therapy during a time of distress and even if it is not a challenging time, asking for help is often difficult for many people. There is good news though: finding a therapist is easier now than it has ever been, especially now that the stigma of therapy has diminished in recent years. The most important step to remember is that finding a good fit between you and a therapist can help you work through the issues you wish to get help with so it is key to find someone you are comfortable talking to.
There is no one size fits all approach to therapy and the therapist that works well for one person may not work well for another. I call this process “therapist shopping” and here are some helpful tips to find the right fit:
- “Google” therapists in your area. It is helpful to include specific search terms. For example, if you want help with your relationship with your significant other and struggle with anxiety, then google “couples therapist and anxiety counseling in [add city name]”.
- Look up websites of specific therapists. Oftentimes, therapists will have websites that you can explore to find out more about the types of issues in which they specialize and the type of therapy they incorporate into their work. The website may also include their education and any specialized training they may have. If you are not familiar with specific types of therapy, feel free to ask your potential future therapist to clarify when you call them.
- Ask friends, family members and/or physicians for referrals. Likely, those are the people that know you well and may know the type of therapist with whom you would connect.
- Start calling. Once you have narrowed down your search, start calling therapists whom you feel may be a good fit. Most therapists are happy to talk and offer a brief phone consultation. He or she will want to find out more about your background, the issue(s) for which you are seeking therapy and what your goals are with therapy. During the phone consultation, you also have the opportunity to find out more about the therapist. Hopefully at this point, you have a good sense of one or two therapists with whom you may connect. You can cross therapists off the list if you did not get a good feeling from the initial phone call. Trust yourself.
- Decide with whom you want to schedule an appointment. After talking to a few therapists, it’s time to narrow down even further. There are no rules about how many therapists you meet with; however, you don’t want to become more overwhelmed than necessary. Some clients meet with a therapist or two for an initial session, to see if the in person meeting feels comfortable and like a good fit as well. Schedules and finances are also a consideration. It is important to decide if you need daytime, evening or weekend sessions and if you want to use insurance or if you are comfortable and financially able to pay out of pocket.
- Choose a therapist. Now that you have scheduled appointments with one or two therapists and have gone to the initial intake session, you can determine with whom you are most comfortable working. Therapists who demonstrate appropriate boundaries (they don’t share too much personal information, if any), actively listen (they don’t respond to your issues by bringing up something similar that happened to them or another client), are non-judgmental and genuine are often those that give people that good “gut feeling.” Therapists who help you pace the work, address concerns you bring to the office, have advanced training and use a trauma Informed approach (meaning they really understand how people are impacted by difficult events and how to help them heal) are all areas to look for in a therapist.
If you’d like to discuss this further to see if a professional therapist could be helpful, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center, at 240-274-5680 or Admin@HealingLLC.com. Or you can visit our website for more information at www.GaithersburgCounseling.com.
By Sara Rothleder, Director of Operations, Gaithersburg Counseling Center &
Amy Hooper, Owner, Gaithersburg Counseling Center