Finding the right therapist may be a difficult task. Most of us already struggle with the idea of talking to others about our feelings, let alone a stranger! I hope to provide you with a little more insight to what may be helpful! First and foremost, think of therapists as some of your teachers. We all had instructors who we loved and some that we didn’t exactly feel a connection within our classes. Techniques may also differ depending on the teacher. Some teachers give you homework, while others prefer learning in the present. You may have a teacher who follows a detailed guide and plan. On the other hand, you may have an instructor who have experiential learning that enables the student to make sense of their own reality.
Therapists are exactly the same! You have to find someone you feel comfortable with and feel a connection to before you even start to open up. You must also consider their approach and what would work for you. What didn’t work for you with previous therapy? Think about what didn’t work about the therapy. Consider the following questions:
- Were you ready for therapy? Sometimes clients may not feel ready to discuss feelings or information related to a taunting memory.
- Did you feel a connection to your therapist? While therapist and client relationships are formal, they are also personal. After all, who would want to share personal information with a person we do not trust? We tend to prefer therapists we feel comfortable with and feel a closer connection to during our sessions.
- Did the methods and treatment type work for you? For example: Sometimes clients do not like doing homework. If this is you, you may want to tell your therapist upfront that you do not wish to have tangible worksheets etc. or find a therapist who will work around this request. Therapists are generally trained in variety of methods such as: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) EFT (Emotion Focused Therapy) etc. You will have to find a therapist that has the approach that works best for you.
Truly analyze what went wrong in the past. Remember that just because you did not feel a connection with your prior therapist does not mean that therapy doesn’t work for you. Yes- It may take you a few tries locating the right therapist for you and that is okay!
I am going to list a few important clues to help direct you to finding the right therapist!
- Give each therapist at least 2 sessions before you make a final decision unless you truly did not feel a connection to the therapist. Building rapport is a crucial part of starting therapy sessions. This should help you feel comfortable and ready to process your thoughts and feelings.
- Research your therapist by reading about their biography. Most introduction pieces help you better understand the professionals and their approach to therapy.
- Come to the first therapy session ready to discuss your expectations and goals. Be upfront- Tell the professional your concerns and ask your questions. Creating a list of questions may help you feel more in control and ready to attain answers before diving into more serious information, which maybe scary at first.
- This is your time. Remember that the professional is trained to help you and you are requesting the services. Expecting a major change in your life or behavior after 1 session is unrealistic. Most treatment plans require a minimum of 3 sessions (depending on the reason for treatment and method of therapy) before a major difference can be felt or seen.
- Ask others around you for referrals. For example, you may have a close friend who already sees a therapist that they work well with. Ask them about their therapist and the reasons behind their choice of this therapist.
-Damla Ricks, MA, MS., LPC
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