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Every year, around 10% of people see a therapist. While it once wasn’t so common, more and more people are seeing the benefit of looking after their mental health as much as their physical and taking the jump to contact a professional.
Have you been thinking about getting therapy? Consider these tips for choosing a therapist and really take them to heart.
Therapy is great, but only if you have the right therapist for you!
1. Research, Research, Research
When it comes to how to choose a therapist, the value of research can’t be overstated. This comes in a few different initial forms.
Firstly, you can ask for recommendations — if you’re comfortable doing so. Local social media groups, friends, and family may all be comfortable offering suggestions, though you should never pressure anyone. Therapy can be a very private thing.
You should also do some online research. Search for local therapists in your area and draw up an initial list of the ones that look good to you. Once you’ve done this, you can do specific research on each one.
Make sure they have the right qualifications to be a licensed therapist in your state. Once you’ve asserted this, look around the web to see if they have reviews or client testimonials anywhere.
While a new therapist with no reviews might be great at what they do, if you want to play it safe, it’s a good idea to choose someone who’s quite experienced. You don’t want to be part of someone’s learning curve and you simply can’t guarantee that someone new is good at what they do!
2. Consider Your Values
Considering what values are important to you is also one of the essential tips for picking a therapist.
- Do you want a therapist who is LGBTQ+ friendly?
- Do you want a therapist of a specific gender?
- Do you want a therapist who is part of a religion or none at all?
Many online directories will let you pick these things ahead of time and filter the list to therapists who consider themselves part of the group you’re searching for. It’s important never to feel silly for your beliefs or specifications and be upfront about them from the start because therapy works best when you can get comfortable with the person you’re talking to.
If you start seeing a therapist and it seems they have a value that doesn’t align with you or your life, you shouldn’t feel guilty about switching either. However, if possible, it’s much better to filter these issues out ahead of time.
3. Consider Cost
You should also consider the cost of a therapist.
While in an ideal world the cost wouldn’t be an issue and therapy would be accessible to everyone, it isn’t the case now. There are plenty of people who would love to get therapy but simply can’t afford to.
The first thing you should do is check if your insurance would cover therapy. You may need a referral from a doctor in this case, so make sure you’re aware of their specifications.
If they will, check your copay and make sure you’re aware of what you’ll have to pay.
If your insurance doesn’t cover therapy or you can’t find one your insurance will cover that you’re comfortable with, you’ll likely have to pay out of pocket. Consider how much the therapist costs along with everyone else but, if possible, try not to make a decision purely on cost and settle for someone you’re less comfortable with.
There’s no point in paying for therapy if it doesn’t work because you settled for someone you aren’t happy with!
4. Check Their Specialties
If you’re unaware of what mental issues you may have (if any), it can be hard to find a good therapist who specializes in your issues. However, most therapists will tell you they deal with relationships, family issues, childhood, etc., and you can make a decision from there.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health issue already such as an anxiety disorder or depression, look for a therapist who specializes in this. A general therapist may not have the years of specific experience this therapist does, and they know exactly how to help the issue at hand.
5. Go With Your Gut
At the end of the day, you also need to go with your gut and listen to yourself when choosing psychologists and similar mental-health professionals. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone, there’s likely a reason for that — though you should consider if it’s just the general anxiety of going into therapy for the first time or the specific person!
You should also never feel guilty about switching therapists if someone isn’t right for you. If, after a few sessions, you aren’t having results, then move.
Remember, therapy takes time — but the ultimate goal should still be to help you and if that isn’t working, take action.
Choosing a Therapist Is Important, So Choose the Right One
Choosing a therapist can be a daunting task but it’s important to remember that you aren’t tied in for your whole life if you choose one who doesn’t end up being a good fit. Research your options carefully, put a lot of thought into who you choose, and consider each appointment very carefully.
You need to have realistic expectations about how long therapy can take, but it should also make a difference.
For more mental health advice and other lifestyle tips, check out the rest of our blog.