As with all partnerships in your life, finding a psychotherapist that’s the right fit for you can take some trial and error. Sometimes you may be lucky enough to find someone you click with right off the bat, but other times you may need to dig a little deeper to find a good match. Here are our tips to help you find a psychotherapist that’s good for you.
Evaluate Your Needs
The first thing to do is evaluate what you would need out of a mental health provider. Some people might find that talk therapy is sufficient, while others may feel that they need medication. Yet others are simply looking for a comprehensive initial assessment to help them determine their diagnosis. Some do not know exactly what they are looking for, but are feeling distressed and are looking for some relief.
If medication is required, you would do best with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. If you are seeking psychotherapy, you can look for counseling, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, clinical psychologists, or certified drug and alcohol counselors.
Consider Your Finances
Therapy comes with a multitude of life-changing benefits, but it is also an investment. The most affordable option would be to find a psychotherapist who is on your insurance plan. However, certain therapists either are not included in your insurance plan or do not accept insurance. If the full fee is too costly for you, you can find lower-cost options at a community mental health center or clinics affiliated with local universities. The latter will provide therapists-in-training, who are often graduate students. Lower fees do not necessarily mean that you will receive a lower quality of service. If you are comfortable, your workplace or school may even offer free short-term counseling services.
Do Your Research
Sometimes, the best place to start is with a simple internet search for mental health providers in your area. If you live in a city, chances are that you will have your pick of choices. Unfortunately, a rural area might yield fewer results, although there should still be options that you can choose from. Getting personal recommendations from people in your life that you can trust can also be a helpful starting point. Your family doctor may be familiar with therapists in the area, and community leaders at places of worship can also provide help if necessary.
Meet the Therapist
Once you find your top candidates, call them up to schedule an appointment. On your first meeting, you will complete some paperwork and discuss your concerns, health status, and life history with your potential psychotherapist. This is a chance for both of you to see whether you will be able to work well together. You should have a list of questions ready for the therapist, which can revolve around:
- Their experience, license, training, and education
- If they have any experience with the issues you are currently facing
- The type of therapy they provide, and evidence of its effectiveness
- Their office hours, availability, any after-hours emergency services they provide, and their fees
Not all psychotherapists provide the same services. Still, taking the first step in reaching out for help is always a good start.