So you have decided to start therapy. The next step is to find a therapist with whom you connect, who understands your experience, and who meets your needs and preferences. Much like a physician, dentist, teacher, or vet, you have the opportunity and the right to choose who you trust your story with. So the following are some things to consider as you navigate how to find a therapist, specifically for you.
Although finding a therapist can be daunting, it is worth the time and energy to find someone who can support you with what you need. You are welcome to “shop around” by doing a few consultations with different therapists or setting up an intake session right off the bat. Ways to narrow down your search include using therapy directory sites, using filters within those sites, reading therapists’ bios to get a sense of their style and approach, and perhaps setting up a consultation or intake session.
There are many ways to search for a therapist, but using a directory site designed specifically for therapist referrals can be a great start. Whether those needs are a certain area of focus (depression, anxiety, relationship issues, anger management, etc.), location, online therapy, or in-person, finding someone with a niche for your need can narrow your search and ensure you find someone who specializes in your goals for therapy. The following is a list of therapist directory sites:
- Psychology Today
- Therapy Den
- Good Therapy
- Open Path Collective: Affordable Counseling | Affordable Therapy
Upon reviewing therapists consider the following:
- Upon reading their bio and intro, do they sound relatable to you? Do they sound as though they get you and could support you?
- Issues they work with
- Out of Network versus in-network insurance or private pay
- It’s not always describable, but do they simply give off a vibe that you like?
Other referral sources to consider include friends or family, doctors, counseling centers, universities, churches, and directly through your insurance company. Sometimes, receiving referrals from people we know and trust can help us take that step to our healing that much sooner than if we are starting from scratch.
Filters on these directory sites are great options to select if you have specific needs or preferences. Some filters include the kind of issue you are hoping to address in therapy or what kind of therapy you’re looking for such as individual counseling, couples counseling, or family therapy. You can also search by ethnicity, faith, gender, and sexuality therapists serve as well as languages offered. Selecting which insurance you have to find therapists in-network with your insurance company is another option. There are benefits to both using your insurance in therapy as well as having an out-of-network (OON) therapist. Further clarifying your personal privacy preferences and financial needs can guide the decision on whether or not to use your insurance for therapy.
Location or modes of therapy may be another factor in your decision. Do you prefer in-person therapy or telehealth? If it’s in person you desire, then entering your zip code can help find a therapist near you. If it’s telehealth you prefer, this casts a wider net of options regarding who you can work with within your state, since therapists can only offer counseling within states they are licensed.
Nowadays, many therapists offer free 15-30 minute consultations to detect if they are a good fit and can provide the service you are looking for. These consultations also provide a chance to ask questions of the therapist. Depending on your hopes and curiosities, questions to consider asking the therapist might include:
1. What is your philosophy on or approach to therapy?
2. What is your availability like?
3. Do you take insurance or are you private pay?
4. If private pay, do you offer Superbills in case I’d like to try to receive reimbursement or have it go toward my deductible?
5. Whatever else you’d like to know or prefer in who you work with.
Are they a good fit?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to know if the therapist is a good fit from just their bio, a quick consultation, or even after a few sessions. But there are still some things to notice when you are getting to know a therapist that can aid in your decision to move forward with them. Even if you’re not sure what therapy may look like for you, if you’ve never attended before or don’t know what to expect, ask yourself: do I feel heard or seen by this therapist? Do they fit the bill regarding my style, demeanor, and approach to therapy? Can they help me based on their experience, specialization, and general care for my experience? Keep in mind that we are constantly building rapport in therapy, so it may take time to feel safe opening up and that is normal.
What if the fit doesn’t feel right?
In the case that you are not connecting with your therapist, there are a couple of options. You always have the right to pause or stop therapy at any time. In addition, you could name your feelings of not quite getting what you need from the work with your counselor. There is so much value to bringing that into the room. It can create an opportunity to clarify your needs, update your treatment plan, offer feedback to the therapist and perhaps get referrals from the therapist for someone who can offer more specified treatment. This may not always be necessary, but it can be helpful as far as processing what has worked and what hasn’t in the work of therapy. One hope in the counseling setting is to support you on your journey to accessing and advocating for your needs.