If you’ve decided you’re ready to go to therapy, the next step is finding a reputable therapist. If you have a referral from a friend, family member, or a trusted Doctor, start there. If not, you can check with your insurance carrier, or go on-line and research therapists yourself. Once you find a few names, give them a call or send an email. Some questions to keep in mind are:
- Experience – The longer a therapist has been practicing, the more competent they are likely to be. Also ask what percentage of their clients are in your age group and have had similar issues. If the therapist is something other than a psychologist, ask what their bachelors degree was in. Social workers, for example, can apply to graduate school with any bachelor’s degree. If their first 4 years was NOT in psychology, then they’ve essentially only had 2 years training!
- Basic therapy style – Believe it or not, this is important to clarify. Some therapists guide their clients from a “Brief Solution Focused” model (behaviors), “Cognitive-Behavioral” (thinking patterns), “Psychodynamic” (childhood experiences), etc. This may be too much information, but you might ask how they would approach your particular issue. This gives you a “feel” for the person you might be spending time with.
- Life Experience – Therapists are supposed to be objective, well-trained professionals, but let’s face it – they are still people. If you think someone will understand you better if they’ve been through a few things like you, go ahead and ask! In Salt Lake City, for instance, most people have strong views about church affiliation. It’s OK to want a counselor that understands you in that area. Also, if you are struggling with children or a divorce, it makes sense to want to work with someone who has “been there”.
- Personality Fit – Once you’ve made an appointment, a good rule to keep in mind is this – do not waste your time if you do not click with the therapist. (One to three sessions should give you enough information on the “click” factor!) Feeling confident that he or she can help you is the most important aspect of successful therapy. If you are not comfortable with the therapist’s style, you need to find someone else.
- Location – It may be important that your therapist isn’t more than ____ minutes drive from you. This may be close to home or close to where you work. (If location is not a big deal for you, you can use your commute time to listen to a podcast or relaxation music!)
- Availability – What are the times that would be ideal for you? Some like going during a lunch hour, before kids are home from school, or on the way home from work.
REMEMBER – Therapy is for you. You will be their employer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to talk about what you expect from therapy. We are people people – we can handle it!