Therapy is one of the most powerful and important journeys on which you’ll embark. It’s exciting once you’ve decided to take the leap and start treatment. But, where your path takes you all depends on who is leading the way. Finding the right therapist for you is critical to starting one of the most transformative experiences you’ll have. You might be wondering how to find a therapist in the first place, or how to find a good therapist at that. When you’re starting your search, you’ll want to know what to look for in a therapist.
We’re here to help answer all these questions to make sure you don’t waste time not getting matched with the right therapist.
Most people enter therapy because they are suffering or facing ongoing issues. Though there are also some patients interested in exploring and understanding their own behaviors and relationships better, without being in any sort of emotional crisis. Other patients just need a place of refuge and support. Because everyone is looking for different outcomes from the same practice, it’s critical to have a sherpa who understands your specific result, and is equipped to help you achieve it. Whether you’re currently in pain, or curious about learning more about yourself, it’s very important to find the right therapist for your needs.
A therapist/patient connection is like any other repeated human interaction –– a relationship. Finding, building, and nurturing that relationship is key to seeing results from the commitment you put into therapy. For anyone who’s considering beginning therapy, focus on the therapeutic relationship between you and your practitioner, instead of getting mired down in deciphering which sort of treatment is “best.” You can always change the approach once you find a therapist with whom you have a trusted connection.
If you don’t do the work up front to research and vet licensed therapists to find the right one for your needs, it can result in not ever staying with one therapist long enough to make progress. It can also lead to you having a traumatic experience that turns you off from therapy all together.
Safety, trust, and open communication are the building blocks of any successful relationship and therapy is no exception. In fact, therapeutic relationships are not dissimilar to love relationships. It’s all about with whom you’re matched. It doesn’t need to be equal, but it should feel like your personality mesh.
For some patients, therapy itself isn’t a fit right away, and might initially blame a less than great experience on the therapist. It’s important to consider that the process itself might be something you need to grow into. That said, it’s recommended to allow at least an initial phone conversation and three sessions to really give the relationship a chance, unless you know it’s definitely not a fit right away.
While you are searching for a great fit, here are some initial questions to ask your potential therapist about their credentials and education:
It’s important for you to feel confident in your therapists’ ability and background overall, and with your specific issue and treatment preference. Additionally, you’ll want to ask yourself some questions along the way, to make sure you’re feeling emotionally secure about the fit like:
It’s important to choose a therapist with whom you can be completely open. While your therapist is a trained professional, they are still a human with bias. Make sure you find a therapist who is able to keep their personal opinions at bay, or aligns with your lifestyle. The last thing you want to feel in therapy is judged. Your sessions should always feel like a safe space where you can share anything and know it is confidential and will be met with compassion and understanding.
In addition to feeling an emotional trust and connection with your therapist, you’ll want to make sure you find a licensed professional who is a good fit logistically speaking. It doesn’t do you much good if you find an amazing therapist you love, but they work an hour away, or don’t have availability that lines up with your schedule. Additionally, you’ll need to discuss financials. There’s nothing worse than finding a therapist you like, but realizing that they are out of your budget, don’t offer a sliding scale or take your insurance.
One of the biggest hurdles many people experience when trying to choose a therapist is finding one that takes their health insurance. Two of the most likely places to find in-network therapists that accept your insurance is through your health insurance provider, or your primary care physician. If you give your health insurance provider a call, they should have a list of referrals who are within their network. Some employee insurance programs also connect employees to mental health counselors through an Employee Assistance Program. Your primary care physician, who presumably also takes your insurance, might also be a good resource in finding a therapist in-network.
You can always ask trusted friends and people within your social network or support groups. And if all those don’t lead you to your next therapist, then take to the internet. It’s fairly daunting to use a large directories, which is why services like Advekit make the search and match making a lot smoother.
Finding a therapist can be an overwhelming experience. It’s important to spend the necessary time to choose the right fit. Putting in the effort up front will pay emotional dividends later once you’ve selected a therapist that works best for you. Our therapist directory can be filtered by type of therapy, conditions the therapist is especially experienced in, and types of therapy accepted to help you find the best qualified therapist to get you through all of life's challenges. If you need help choosing a therapist, Advekit can help you get matched with a therapist today.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.