Beginning on your journey toward finding a therapist can feel a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to consider. How do you find a good therapist? What is it going to cost? Will this even help me? Where do you even start? Whether you’re looking for a new therapist or searching for the very first time, here are some things you should consider when finding a therapist.
Assess If You’re Ready For Therapy
Therapy is not a quick fix. It will be most effective when you are in a position both physically and emotionally to make the changes necessary outside of your sessions. That’s right…you do the heavy lifting. The real magic happens when your therapist is nowhere to be found and you are faced with a triggering situation outside of therapy. Whether you would like to address long standing issues that you have experienced in your life or more recent events, it is important to understand that this experience will be extremely uncomfortable. While a mental health professional can give you tools to utilize, actually doing the work is completely up to you.
Know Your Why
Before finding a therapist, it’s important to be very clear about why you’d like to speak with a professional. Can you pinpoint exactly what the issues? If not, be ready to discuss how you feel currently and how you would like to feel in the future. It is very important to create space in your schedule and emotionally in order to incorporate this process into the rest of your life. The practice of going to therapy will require vulnerability, accountability, and discipline. Staying focused on your “why” throughout the process can help to keep you grounded and focused on the goal.
Review The Costs
Therapy will likely require you to make a conscious and consistent financial commitment to your mental health. Reach out to your medical insurance provider to discuss your coverage. There may be certain restrictions based on your insurance policy (i.e. in network vs. out of network). Your provider will be able to go over your coverage and assist you with finding a therapist in your area. No insurance? Many therapists offer sliding scale payment options, based on your ability to pay.
Schedule a Consultation
No two therapists are exactly the same. It is a good idea to setup consultation meetings with a few therapists to meet them. Get to know their personality and therapeutic style. Any therapist you work with should be able to share with you what their primary treatment modalities are and why. When meeting with each therapist, ask yourself a few questions: Is this someone I feel comfortable with? Do I feel seen/heard? Have they clearly explained what I can expect? It’s important to ensure that you feel safe to express your inner most thoughts with your therapist. So if there are any immediate red flags that rub you the wrong way, consider your alternatives.
Confirm Credentials and Licensing
This is a step that many consumers overlook. Like any other health professional, you want to ensure that you are working someone who is honest, trustworthy and authorized to provide psychotherapy. Before initiating mental health services with any therapist, you will want to confirm that their license is both active and current. You can do so by searching their state governing board’s website. Once you have verified that they are licensed to practice, you will be able to begin the therapeutic process with greater peace of mind.
Progress during therapy comes with time. Once you find the therapist that is right for you, be patient with yourself throughout the process. Change is never easy, but it will absolutely be worth it.
Rhonda Richards-Smith is an award-winning psychotherapist & relationship expert. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Masters of Social Welfare degree with a Health concentration. Her advice has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, US Weekly Magazine, BravoTV, Ebony Magazine, Teen Vogue and Glamour Magazine among others. With over 15 years of experience, Rhonda is passionate about helping individuals and companies on their path toward emotional wellness, effective communication, and healthy relationships. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.