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Trying to find the right therapist for you can be a little like dating in the sense that you may have to date around and swipe through some options in an effort to find ‘The One’ who is right for you among the myriad of options available.
Fortunately for you, this doesn’t have to be such a daunting task, and this article outlines 5 tips that will help make it even easier for you to know how to choose the therapist for your needs.
For anyone who suffers from ailments such as depression, panic attacks, anger, or post-traumatic stress disorder, look for a clinical psychologist rather than a psychiatrist. If you suffer from a major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, sociopathy, or borderline personality disorder, then it’s better to go with a psychiatrist or a psychologist who has vast experience in that particular specialty.
While a psychologist’s role is basically to diagnose and make use of coping strategies that are more ‘talk-based’, medication from a psychiatrist could be a better solution if you are experiencing deep suffering and it can be vital to your well-being (possibly even lifesaving in some situations).
Now that you have some idea of what kind of therapy you need, the next thing to consider on your search for the ideal therapist is if you have chemistry with the person. If you don’t have a strong therapeutic alliance with your therapist from the start then you may end up wasting a lot of time and money. What you need is a therapist who is reliable, warm, and well within your price range.
If the therapist you are considering doesn’t have all of those things, then keep looking. If you find yourself sitting across from a therapist who stares at the clock waiting for the session to come to an end, or one that reads their mail during sessions, then you know that’s not ‘The One’ for you. Your therapist doesn’t have to be your best friend, but you should feel comfortable about sharing your thoughts and feelings with them.
You’d never go on a first date without checking out the other person’s profile online or on social media, would you? In the same way, when choosing a therapist, it’s important to do your research before making your first call. Check out their online presence and read their reviews. If there are any alarm bells (for instance, an unprofessional-looking website or too many false-sounding or negative reviews) then ditch them and keep searching.
In the end, this will be time well-spent because it will probably save you from having to change therapists again in a short space of time. Once on the phone with the therapist, ask them which school they attended (make sure they have proper accreditation and not some online certificate), also ask about specialties and licenses so you can look them up to be sure that the therapist that you’re considering hasn’t incurred any infractions.
A little sidenote: When you search online for ‘therapist near me’, ‘psychotherapist near me’, or ‘best therapist near me’, it’s usually a plus if their name comes up near the top with five star ratings.
A lot of people suffering from mental health issues don’t try to get treatment because of the high costs and insufficient insurance. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case for you. The first thing you need to do is to verify the type of accreditation that your insurance will accept. Find out what the diagnoses need to be as well as the kind of documentation needed and how many sessions it covers.
You can also ask your therapist for a cash rate, as deductibles can make insurance more expensive. Depending on how close the figure comes to what your insurance will pay, it might just work out cheaper to pay cash (although if you pay cash you might not be able to use that against the deductible.
If you find that you aren’t comfortable with the therapist you’ve chosen, don’t feel bad about changing therapists no matter how long you’ve been with them. As we mentioned before, you may need to see a few therapists before you find the right one for you.
Keep searching until you feel that you have found someone who understands and accepts you. If you feel any discomfort at all, or if you’re feeling unheard, or even if the therapist talks more than you do, those are all signs that you may need to find another therapist.
Seeking help for any problem is a big step and it takes a lot of courage admitting that we can’t face our problems alone. Once you’ve made the decision to get help, give yourself the best possible chance of success by following the steps outlined here and taking the time to do all the necessary research so you can find a therapist that’s right for you.