Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Dealing with mental health issues is hard enough, but finding the right therapist takes some extra effort! Let me share some ideas on how you can choose someone who is right for you:
1. Be specific in your search.
There are many different therapy platforms and apps to help you in your quest (for example: Psychology Today, Inclusive Therapists, Headway, BetterHelp, Open Path). Regardless of what you choose, try to use the filter option if they don't offer a matching system. When searching for the right therapist, use terms that are specific and meaningful to you. For example, the words "LGBTQIA+, Marriage, Spanish, Minority, Trauma, Religion" are going to yield more specific results that are more in tune with what you're searching for. Keep in mind that you can get an idea of what you want before you search. For example, if you experienced a traumatic event with a man and feel uncomfortable around men, you may want to filter your search to find female and/or non-binary therapists.
2. Look at the profiles of the therapists that catch your eye.
By this I don't mean that you have to find the therapist attractive. I mean sometimes we have a gut feeling, and it's okay to explore it.
--> Do they look like a person who can help me? > Explore!
--> Do I feel like this person might trigger some emotional responses to a problem I'm having? > Next!
3. Read, read, read!
As therapists, we take the time to write our profiles. They must be in reference to our work and what we can do for you. We also try to attract clients that are within our areas of expertise. So read what we have to say! If you're still unsure but intrigued, check to see if they have a website attached to their profile that might offer more information about this therapist. This information should give you an idea of whether this person might be what you're looking for.
4. Ask all the questions you need to feel good about your decision!
You may be surprised to learn this, but you can ask questions before committing to someone. Some therapists offer a free consultation. This is a great way to get to get to know this person a little bit and ask questions that are targeted to your needs. For example, if you need to work on past trauma, you can ask the therapist how they work with specific traumatic events. Many therapists also want to learn more about you so they can tailor their style to your needs. We also like to know if you received therapy before and if it was a good or bad experience. We don't want to know to learn their names and gossip, but we want to not repeat the same experience for you, adding to another bad experience. Or to know the things that worked, so we can integrate them into our work together. If the therapists you find don't offer a free consultation, you can ask these questions by email.
5. Explore therapy fees.
Many people find out about a fee and run away. Wait a second! You can ask for other options. Many therapists offer sliding scales as well as other resources. We can also help you connect with resources that might be helpful if you decide not to work with us. But you should know that those fees exist for a reason. We take our work seriously and have studied long and hard to be able to do what we do. We also strive to be able to offer affordable prices, because we understand that not everyone can afford a high rate. So don't be afraid to ask before deciding.
6. Take your time before making a decision.
Whether you've asked your questions or met with the therapist for a consultation, know that you don't have to decide on the spot. You can take your time to think about all the information that has been presented to you, or even to continue your search, before deciding to make an appointment.
7. Give yourself time to process the new therapeutic relationship.
Once you've made your decision and started seeing your new therapist, allow yourself time to build a relationship. Hopefully, a connection will be established right away, but sometimes it takes a little longer to "click" with your therapist, and that's okay! Try to clear your mind of any biases you may have about therapy, or what your therapist should be like, and assess your current process. Remember that therapy can get uncomfortable, because mental health is difficult to deal with in general. If you've given it some time and you still don't feel right with the therapist, I encourage you (as scary as it sounds!) to let your therapist know. They should be willing to explore what isn't working and hopefully find a solution, but if not, you'll at least make way for a proper termination and maybe some referrals to other therapists.