How to find a therapist

As a therapist in private practice, I hope that you find what you’re looking for on my site and decide to reach out. However, my reach is limited and I know I’m not going to be the right fit for everyone. Part of my work as a mental health advocate is to help people find the right therapist for their needs. I wrote this article to help folks make an informed provider choice and take the next step in getting the help they need.

This post was originally published on Medium.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Let’s face it- finding a therapist is a daunting task.

Therapy is an intimate process based on trust and a solid relationship. It’s incredibly important to find someone who makes you feel comfortable and whose approach fits your needs.

Here are some tips to guide your search and help you find the right professional.

  • To get started, see if you can get recommendations from people you know or your doctor. Folks you know and trust can provide good insight into whether a particular therapist might work for you. Bios and head-shots can be bland and/or deceiving! You can also call your insurance company to get a list of providers who are in-network, or search a database like Psychology Today or Good Therapy to filter by therapists who serve your area.
  • Consider the delivery method: Do you need in-person appointments, or are you satisfied with telehealth? As more providers move online, telehealth may expand your options. Professionals can usually provide teletherapy to anyone located in the state(s) where they are licensed. If you’re someone who has trouble sitting still, see if anyone in your area offers walk and talk sessions.
  • Don’t base your decision on the letters behind their name. PhD, PsyD, LPC, LCSW, LMFT…. What does it all mean? I’ve worked with professionals with ALL of these designations, and I can say that their professional experience and approach to therapy are probably going to have a much greater impact on your treatment than what degree they earned in grad school. Unless you are looking for someone who can also prescribe, don’t get caught up in the letters.
  • Before you call anyone, spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of therapy. A clear picture of your needs will help you target your search and get more out of consultation with potential providers.
  • Do set up a phone consultation. Most therapists offer a free 15–20 minute phone consult. This can give you a perspective on how it feels to talk to them and an opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Be upfront about what you are looking for in treatment so the professional can let you know if their practice would be a good fit.
  • Most therapists’ websites list their “ theoretical orientation” or treatment approach. If you don’t know what this means, ASK! We therapists tend to get caught up in acronyms and forget that these aren’t friendly to the general public. You could say: “Your website says that you use a blend of ACT and DBT. Can you tell me what that might look like in session or why you chose these methods?”
  • Consider doing some research on well-regarded treatment models for the issue you’re hoping to address. For example, Cognitive-behavioral therapyExposure therapy, and Mindfulness-based Cognitive behavioral therapy are quality treatments for anxiety. If one treatment modality sounds like the best fit for you, you can hone your search by professionals who have training in that approach.
  • Don’t hide important details. Things like your trauma history and whether you have suicidal thoughts are important to note in a consultation. You’re not going to delve in and start processing during the initial call, but you don’t want to schedule a session only to find that the professional can’t meet your needs.

This post was originally published on Medium.

Published by Mary Feamster, LPC

Charlottesville-based therapist passionate about helping people improve their mental health, move well, and be well.

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