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How to Find a Therapist

step by step

After working with numerous first timers to therapy, I'm providing tips to help you get started. By the end of this blog post you will have a sense of how to find a therapist and what to expect from your first sessions.

TIP # 1 Find a Therapist Before Crisis

Ideally, you want to find a therapist when you aren’t in crisis. I like to compare it to finding a primary care doctor. You want to develop a relationship with your primary care doctor before something is urgently wrong. It's the same with a therapist.

Therapy can be preventative. You’ll be in a much better position to tackle larger issues without the added pressure of finding a therapist while in crisis.

TIP # 2 Dedicate The Time to Find a Match

When looking for a therapist, keep an open mind and honor your preferences. There are many different types of therapists.

Finding a therapist can be a daunting process. Ask for referrals from friends and/or medical professionals like your primary care doctor. Perhaps choose to search online. There are many therapist directories out there that allow you to search by issue and choose the areas of specialty.

One of the most common therapist directories is PsychologyToday. Look at the profiles that come up and reach out to 2-3 therapists that might be a good match. Have a conversation with that therapist about their fee and background.

TIP # 3 Explore the Match

The first 2-4 sessions with a therapist is focused on exploring the match between you and your provider. The therapist will want to get to know you better. You can expect questions about your history, relationships, and coping. The therapist may review consent, policies, and have you fill out questionnaires, all in an effort to determine if their skillset matches your needs.

If you aren’t feeling comfortable with a therapist after the first 2-4 sessions, I suggest talking about this with the therapist. Most therapists will be open to this feedback and want to discuss what’s not working to see if it can work.

TIP # 4 Therapy Should Be Supportive

Once you and a therapist deicide to work together, the overall feeling from therapy should be supportive. It shouldn't feel like the therapist is pushing their own agenda. Most therapists will expect you to work and this work should be collaboratively agreed upon.

Keep in mind that even the very best therapists have missteps. If your therapist messes up somewhere along the line, I encourage you to talk about it with them. Most therapists will welcome this.

TIP # 5 Your Therapist Cares

It’s not uncommon to wonder if the therapist you are working with cares about you or only cares about you because you pay them to. Therapists do care. The more a provider gets to know the person you are, your story, your struggles, your strengths, and your misfortunes the deeper the relationship grows. It is a normal human response to have compassion and to care. Therapists are human too and they do care. You do not pay a therapist to care. You pay a therapist for their clinical expertise.


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