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A Guide to Finding the Right Therapist For YOU.

Updated: May 2

Finding the right Therapist FOR YOU!

In 2018, we approached the topic of finding a therapist with a similar post, and given how much the counseling world has changed in the past six years, we figured it would be a good time to revisit this subject.

Over the last few years, getting access to counseling services has become normalized in some ways, and yet still not an easy process. From giant corporate entities offering help through companies like Better Help or Talk Space, promising huge results with clinicians who have minimal training, screening, or supervision, to the overwhelming task of looking for a clinician on referral sites like Psychology Today and Good Therapy, the task of finding the right therapist for you, with the right experience is overwhelming to say the least.  

Each time someone calls our office I try to tell them that only THEY know what would work best for their own treatment.  All of your friends and family members may recommend a specific clinician, but you still need to feel comfortable with that clinician.  The only way to find the right therapist is to start trying and talking with therapists.  Here are a few things to consider:

Virtual, In-Person Or Hybrid: Finding The Best Fit For YOU

The choice between in-person and virtual counseling has become a crucial consideration. Both formats have unique benefits. In-person therapy offers a tangible sense of connection and presence, which some find essential for their therapeutic journey. Meanwhile, virtual counseling provides flexibility, accessibility, and the comfort of engaging from your own space, which can be a game-changer for those with tight schedules or mobility issues. While some practices and clinicians can easily switch between the two, others cannot. Having an “in person” clinician usually means they can also see you online when needed.  Yet, if you choose a clinician who only sees you online, there will be no option for in-person support if the need arises.

Specializations Matter: Aligning Therapist Expertise With Your Needs

Therapists often have areas of specialization, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, or family therapy. Matching with a therapist who has expertise in dealing with your specific concerns can significantly impact the effectiveness of your therapy. Don’t hesitate to ask about a therapist’s qualifications, areas of specialty, and experience with issues similar to yours.

The right therapist for you will be someone who specializes in precisely the type of help you need. We have found that the best therapist can't “specialize in everything”. Effective clinicians know their strengths and weaknesses. While I have years of experience in the substance abuse world and helping individuals with varying levels of trauma, I can honestly say that I would not be the right choice if you were looking for a therapist to help you with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia issue (we have Liana for that).  An ethical and effective clinician will know what they will be a good fit for and what they won't. They won’t just accept you as a client because they take your insurance.

Understanding Costs: Do You Need To Go Through Insurance Or Can You Go Out-Of-Network?

Therapy is an investment in your mental health, and it’s also a financial commitment.  The cost of therapy can vary widely, and understanding the financial aspect is crucial. Understanding the costs involved and how insurance may cover these expenses is important. Therapists may offer a sliding scale fee based on income.  Therefore, we recommend inquiring about all available options.

Additionally, consider whether a potential therapist accepts your insurance or if they can provide documentation for you to submit for out-of-network reimbursement.  

Clinicians who accept insurance can be excellent options and tend to fill their schedules rapidly, yet dealing with insurance can be difficult. While using insurance might lower your direct costs, it may also restrict your options for therapists and expose you to the risk of the insurance company determining the end of your therapy sessions, rather than that decision being made jointly by you and your clinician. Opting for an out-of-network provider or paying out of pocket can provide greater confidentiality and access to a wider range of specialized therapists, albeit at a higher cost. It's crucial to consider both your financial capacity and your preferences for privacy when making your choice.

The Therapeutic Relationship: Does Your Personality "Click"?

One of the most critical factors in successful therapy is the relationship between you and your therapist. Do you “click”?  Your therapist doesn’t need to be your best friend, but you should be comfortable with them, especially if you will be sharing your thoughts and feelings. Generally, the most success in therapy comes from rapport, or feelings of trust and respect. You should feel understood, respected, and comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings. It’s perfectly okay to trust your instincts - if you don’t feel a connection after a few sessions, it may be worth considering other options. While a therapist may look experienced and well-trained on paper, if upon meeting them or within the first few sessions you feel a lack of chemistry, trust, and warmth, then you should look for someone else.  A good therapist will support your decision and may even help you find someone who might be a better fit.

Moreover, a suitable therapist will neither vilify nor trivialize your emotions or thoughts; they'll be candid with you while maintaining respect and understanding. They excel in probing not only the essential questions you've contemplated, but also those you haven't yet considered. Many therapists are open to conducting a short phone consultation to give you a sense of their fundamental values. Be wary of therapists who seem indifferent to your beliefs or cultural practices, as well as those who concentrate exclusively on urging change without acknowledging, supporting, and enhancing your strengths. The most beneficial therapy experiences are those that empower you to recognize and leverage your own abilities and strengths to navigate through life's hurdles.

Recommendations: Can’t I Just Ask My Family, Friends and Neighbors?

Yes! Ensure you connect with trusted and valued individuals within your social or family circles who have experience with a therapist. If you feel at ease, inquire whether they faced similar challenges as yours and if the therapist was helpful. Recommendations from someone you know and trust can significantly streamline your search, sparing you the challenge of finding a starting point.  Remember, just because a therapist was great for your friend, does not mean they have the right training, experience, or personality to work with you. You need to decide for yourself.

Additionally, consulting your doctor or another healthcare provider is a constructive approach. Many professionals in the healthcare sector have access to resources designed to support their patients' emotional well-being.

In conclusion, finding the right therapist is a personal journey that involves considering various factors, including the mode of counseling, the therapist's specialization and level of experience, financial implications, and importantly, your personal comfort with the therapist. Don't hesitate to ask questions and seek initial consultations to better gauge your comfort level with a potential therapist.

Remember, the goal is to find someone with whom you can build a trusting and supportive relationship to facilitate your mental health journey. If you should ever have any questions about The Gooding Wellness Group or one of our clinicians, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Written by our Founder and Director, Gordon Gooding, LCSW

with Associate Director, Peter Juliano, LCSW

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