Overcoming the stigma of mental health and making the decision to seek out therapy is a big one.
Once we decide to seek out therapy for some extra support, we want to be sure to find the right Mental Health Therapist and fit for our needs.
Here are some tips on what to focus on when finding the right mental health therapist for you.
First and foremost, it’s all about your relationship with the therapist.
Therapy is only successful when you have the right fit and feel comfortable and safe with your Therapist. It’s all about the therapeutic relationship!
As we are discussing important, sensitive elements of our lives and sharing intimate details about ourselves, rapport and trust are absolutely important!
You should feel safe and comfortable with your therapist.
A tip to feel this out is to schedule a consultation with your potential therapist. Many therapists, such as myself, offer free phone consultations prior to starting treatment.
We want our clients to be aware of how we sound, our temperament, and approach to therapy for them to feel comfortable.
When looking for the right therapist, request a phone consultation to see how you click and feel with that therapist. Ask them questions on how they approach therapy and their theoretical orientation or anything else you may want to know relative to your treatment.
Second, experience matters – to a point.
Experience is important in making sure that your specific topic is something that your therapist can help you address.
Many therapists have a specific niche and specialty that they will market and even within that, they may have knowledge within your requested area too. Research their listed specialties and their experience to know if they will be able to help with your specific area of focus.
This can be discussed, and you can ask questions about their specialty or knowledge related to your topic during that initial phone consultation.
Even if they have the knowledge and experience, always remember the first part. It MATTERS HOW YOU FEEL working with that therapist!
If you’re not feeling it but that therapist specializes in what you want or need, trust your feelings over the knowledge and find the right fit for you.
True progress in therapy is based on the relationship versus the specialty.
You have to feel comfortable working with your therapist.
Third, know the differences between titles.
Many clients call me and ask about the difference between Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists. All of these positions provide support and help, but you definitely want to know the difference to get where you want more efficiently.
Here is a quick break down:
Therapists, including MFT’s, LPCC’s, and MSW’s can practice therapy. The differences between all the licensures are for specialty in practice, specific knowledges within the related fields, and in working locations. It may be helpful to look into each licensure role to see what the best fit for your needs would be.
Psychologists are doctorate level providers that can also provide therapy. The big difference is that a Licensed Psychologist can provide Psychological Testing.
Psychiatrists can also provide therapeutic services and are Medical Doctors that can prescribe medication.
Fourth, know what type of therapy your therapist practices.
This is a very specific element in therapy, and this is what determines the type of work and treatment that will be practiced.
You don’t necessarily need to know the ins and outs of all of the therapeutic modalities and theories, but it is helpful to know the approach and what you feel would help you. It may be beneficial to look into the theoretical modality your potential therapist practices.
Examples of theoretical modalities are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Person Centered Therapy
- Narrative Therapy
- Family Systems
- Solution Focused Therapy
- And many more.
Many times, if there is a referral for therapeutic services, your referring physician or other referring party would mention a specific type of therapy that would benefit you.
Fifth, availability and types of services offered are important.
Finding the right therapist may take time and that is okay. Take your time and do your research to find the right fit for you.
If there is an urgent need for treatment, be sure to do what’s right and safe for you if the availability isn’t immediately offered.
Follow up with urgent needs first and foremost to ensure that you are safe, and your needs are being met.
If your desired therapist isn’t readily available, you can ask if Telehealth services are offered, such as Telehealth Video sessions.
Many therapists offer these services as a safe and convenient alternative to in-person treatment and to decrease wait times for appointments.
With all of these tips, the most important one to remember is the relationship and comfort with your therapist. Therapy only works if you are comfortable and feel safe working with your therapist and should be your guiding criteria.
Some reliable resources to find a therapist in your area are Psychologytoday.com and Goodtherapy.org.
You can also ask your primary care physician or insurance panel for a referral.