Where Do I Even Start: How Do I Find The Right Therapist For Myself?
Updated: Mar 15
Finding The Right Therapist for You
So you’ve decided it’s time you talked to a professional therapist…However, taking on the task of sifting through the many different options and finding someone you can trust can be tremendously overwhelming. The number of therapists listed on the Psychology Today and similar websites here on Long Island is overwhelming! Where do you even start? This quick guide can help you begin the process of finding the right therapist for you.
Specialization for Your Needs
The right therapist for you will be someone who specializes in exactly the type of help you need. Clinical Psychologists and Social workers deal with a variety of conditions like anxiety based issues, panic attacks, depression, relationship issues, compulsive issues, substance abuse issues and many others. The role of a social worker or psychologist is primarily to diagnose and use cognitive/talk-based coping strategies, whereas a Psychiatrist is a medical doctor and can prescribe medications for issues like bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, sociopathy, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia.
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. While a therapist may look experienced and well trained on paper, if upon meeting them or within the first few sessions you feel no chemistry, no trust, and no warmth, then you should look for someone else.
Works with Your Schedule
Most people work full time and find it hard to pencil in their mental health. Some individuals therefore, have to see a therapist during their lunch hour or before they start work, after work or on weekends. There are many therapists who work long hours and weekends to serve this type of clientele. The right therapist will try to cater to your needs and get you into their office at a time that works for you.
Validates, Normalizes and Challenges You
The right therapist will never demonize or dismiss your feelings or thoughts, but will also not be afraid to tell you like it is. A good therapist is someone who asks the questions you need to consider, but also asks the questions you never even thought about asking. Most therapists will be happy to speak with you on the phone for a brief interview consultation so you can get a feel for their core values. Take caution with therapists who are insensitive to your beliefs or cultural practices. Also take heed with therapists who focus solely on challenging you to change without recognizing, supporting and building on your strengths. The most effective therapy experience is one that supports the client in recognizing their capabilities and strengths to overcome challenges.
Make sure to reach out to anyone in your social or familial circle, that you value and trust, who has worked with a therapist. If you are comfortable ask if they are having similar issues as you and did this person help them. If someone you personally know, and trust, can vouch for a professional they have experience with, this will save you a lot of time searching the internet looking for a place to start.
Another healthy option may be to consult with your doctor or other health care professional. Many in the health field have resources they can call on to help support their patients emotional needs.
Finding the right therapist is a different process for every person, but these few universal methods can help steer you in the right direction and help you on your way to positive mental health! If you have more specific questions or concerns, please never hesitate to contact us.