On the Quest for a Therapist
The stigma around therapy is a thing of the past. Countless studies and satisfied clients are proof that therapy is a healthy resource for everyone—whether your problems are big or small. With over 50% of Americans suffering from mental health issues, therapy is an effective way to tackle personal problems and help you see your situation with more clarity than ever before.
So now that we’ve established therapy is a highly encouraged route for self love and mental clarity, now comes the tricky part—how do I pick the right therapist?
Before you start the “dating” process, it’s important to first determine what type of healthcare professional best suits your needs. For example, psychologists, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists are all in a similar line of work, and depending on your needs (whether you need prescription meditations, battle with panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, bi-polar, etc.) one might be stronger suited for you than the others.
Once you’ve determined what type of professional you want to work with, the second phase of research narrows down the specifics—do you connect better with a man or a woman? What about the distance of the office from your home? Is this professional covered under your insurance? These are all make-or-break questions that you should strongly consider before you fall in love with a therapist, only to realize that they’re not covered by your insurance.
Like the quest for the perfect partner, finding the right therapist doesn’t always happen on the first try (or second, or third…). You’ve got to have a strong connection on a personal level—you’ll be spending hours with this person, sharing deeply personal stories and talking through intimate questions, so you want to be sure you’re completely comfortable.
Pro tip: ask your friends for therapists they have and love. If you’re friends with them, you’ll hopefully click with their therapist, too!
It’s totally normal to “date around” looking for just the right therapist. You’ll have a few awkward first dates, but it’s all great practice in your quest for the right one. Make sure to ask the hard-hitting questions so you know exactly what you’re committing to. And don’t be afraid to turn someone down—you won’t be hurting their feelings if it’s not a match.
“It took me a few tries before I found a therapist that I absolutely adore. My advice is to be willing to walk away and start over if it doesn’t feel like a good match. They are an important person in your life! You want to feel comfortable, dare I say even excited, to visit your therapist. In my experience, it was very intuitive when something wasn’t working and when I finally felt safe and comfortable.” - Catie Macken, Chief Mindfulness Officer of Prezence
These professionals want to see you succeed, and if you’re better suited with someone else make sure you say it. A good therapist is like a friend, someone you can be vulnerable with in order to get to the root of your problems. If you aren’t hitting that level, you most likely won’t make any progress during your sessions together.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be forever. Make sure you and your therapist discuss a timeline, and after a few sessions it’s perfectly okay to change your mind and continue your quest for “the one.” Remember, your priorities might change as life goes on, new obstacles might shift you towards a new healthcare professional.
But remember, just because you have a therapist doesn’t mean your problems are going to melt away without putting in work and commitment. You need to continue showing up to sessions, despite the awkward or uncomfortable moments, and follow through with the tactics and exercises your therapist gives you in order to see personal growth.
Therapists have the knowledge and skillset to articulate the things we struggle to say ourselves, which can have long term, positive effects when those words resonate with us during tough times. If you wholeheartedly commit to therapy, a lot of light can be shed onto your situation, and your world can be entirely changed for the better.