As someone who is in the mental health field and someone who engages in therapy myself, I believe that anyone can benefit from talking to someone else about life’s challenges or digging deeper into themselves. One thing I get asked many times is how to find a good therapist. There are wonderful people you can work with all over the world, but finding one that is a great fit for you and your needs can be a challenge. This is even magnified if you are in a crisis and looking for someone to help you. Here are some simple things to keep in mind for yourself if you’ve decided to give therapy a try:
- Have a goal in mind: If you go into therapy without this, you might find yourself wasting your time and money. It could be changing negative thought patterns, improving a relationship, working on your style of communication, or dealing with a crisis that was thrown your way. Whatever it is, keep that in mind and share your concern with the prospective therapist. Many have specific issues or populations they work with or specialize in. Sharing this will help you both know if it is a potential good fit.
- Understand the investment: Therapy is an investment. There is no way around this. It costs money to engage in a therapeutic relationship; however, it is a form of preventative work that far outweighs not going. Often we are reactive to our mental health instead of proactive. What if we spent time understanding ourselves better and taking care of our minds before a crisis hit? Imagine what that would do for ourselves and our families. Ask your potential therapist what initial meetings cost (they can be more), regular sessions, group sessions, etc. Find out if you can use insurance and how many sessions that will get you. Still struggling to pay? Ask if there is a sliding scale option. Keep in mind that the cost you are paying is not just for the hour you spend with the therapist. There is prep work for sessions and other admin tasks that go into seeing clients.
- Don’t disregard telehealth: Many people prefer in-person meetings, which makes sense. If you are having a hard time getting a session to fit your schedule though, seriously consider telehealth. It can be just as effective and helpful and give you access to therapists not located in your community.
- Therapists are humans too: Yep. They aren’t perfect. You will find there are some you may not connect with and others that are a great fit. That’s ok. It can take two to three sessions to understand if the person you are meeting with is a good fit for you. Don’t give up if the answer is no. Ask the therapist for a referral to someone else they think might be a better fit. Worried about the cost of meetings that end up not being a good fit? Ask if you can have a brief 15-minute consultation before meeting with someone. Many therapists do this for free, and it will help give you an idea of how that person works.
- Feeling better? Keep going: So many people stop going to therapy because it starts working. Positive results are a great thing, but it isn’t always a sign you should disengage from therapy. Yes, there are seasons when we don’t need to utilize professional mental health services; however, think back to the goal you had in mind in the beginning. Has it been met? Did new goals emerge? Do you need professional guidance to work through these? Do you need to go less frequently? Think through your choice on a deeper level, not just based on how you feel in a moment.
- Utilizing therapy doesn’t mean there is something “wrong” with you: Again, move away from a reactive approach and move toward a proactive approach. Taking care of your mental health doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. It means that you are understanding yourself better and want to live a healthier life. There is nothing wrong with that.
It can be incredibly intimidating and scary the first time you see a therapist. A therapist that is a good fit for you will help you feel seen, heard, and at ease when sharing with them. Understand that things oftentimes don’t change overnight, but with consistent engagement in the process and doing any work outside of sessions that your therapists suggest, you will see positive differences in your mental health.
If you are in Missouri and think I might be a good fit for you as a therapist, I’d love to chat more. I really enjoy working with people who are working through the overwhelming world we live in and trying to show up as best as they can. You can email here to talk more.