Does finding the right therapist feel overwhelming?

Are you worried you might end up with the wrong therapist or a therapist you don’t click with?

Or have you had bad experiences with therapists in the past?

If you want to try therapy but don’t know how to find a good fit, this episode is for you. I am sharing a four-step process to find the right therapist because you deserve to get the help you need. ❤️

(If you are in urgent need of help, please refer to this page for free mental health resources, hotlines, and online chats.)

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

4 Steps to Finding the Right Therapist For You

Many of you feel overwhelmed when trying to find a therapist. Let’s simplify the process by taking it one step at a time.

The goal is to find someone with appropriate training with whom you can truly connect to expand your mental wellness and life satisfaction.

Therapy ranges from going into the past to figure out what happened, and processing traumatic experiences, to talking through your thoughts and feelings about a recent life transition and beyond.

Step 1: Get Clarity

The first step is to get clarity on where you need support.

What is or isn’t working for you? What is causing you pain, suffering, or frustration? What is stressing you out? How do you feel on a day-to-day basis?

Maybe you want a therapist to help you process the loss around a breakup you had months ago so you can move on with your life.

Or maybe you’re looking for support with depression, anxiety, addiction, communication issues, ongoing relationship issues, or past trauma.

Next is to gain clarity on your preferences. 

Do you want to work with someone of a specific gender identification or religious affiliation? Do you want in-person sessions or virtual sessions? What is your budget?

Getting clarity helps to reduce overwhelm because it narrows your search.

For example, if you’re finally telling yourself the truth about an addictive behavior, you’ll want a clinician who has experience with addiction. This rules out a lot of therapists.

You also want to educate yourself on which type of practitioner and modality will provide the best support.

This article from Medical News Today has a great chart explaining the differences between a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc. You’ll also find a glossary of terms for practitioners and modalities inside the guide (along with all clarifying questions).

Step 2: Finding a Therapist

There are several ways to find a therapist.

First, if youhave insurance, check your Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) to see if it offers mental health benefits. If you can’t locate it, call the customer service number on your insurance card and ask them for information on your coverage.

If you work at a corporation, check your benefits for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This confidential counseling service is available to employees and may also extend to your immediate family.

For anyone who doesn’t have insurance coverage or wishes to self-pay, here are a few ways to begin finding therapists:

  • Ask for recommendations from trusted medical professionals, friends, and family (if your relationship isn’t too close or too complicated), or ask your friends and family to ask their therapists for recommendations.

A Note on Online Therapy

Online therapy gives you more options, and while it works great for many people (I’ve offered virtual sessions for years), it’s not always appropriate.

For example, if you’re talking about complex trauma, virtual sessions are not appropriate. If you’re in the throes of addiction and you need a detox, online sessions likely won’t work.

If you think online therapy might be right for you, directories like Psychology Today allow you to filter by therapists who offer virtual sessions.

You can also check out BetterHelp*, which my team and I vetted a few years ago. While I can’t speak to everyone’s experience, the 15 people who helped me vet it were happy with the flexibility, affordability, and fit they found.

Note: if you’re using insurance and find an out-of-state therapist who offers online sessions, check that your coverage still applies.

Step 3: Narrowing Your List Down

Once you have a list of recommendations, do your due diligence:

  • Search for their name and see if they have a website
  • Make sure their license and certifications are valid
    • Therapists listed on Psychology Today are required to have legitimate advanced degrees in their discipline and an up-to-date license and certification.
  • Do their specialties and interests match with what you’re looking for?
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for lawsuits, complaints, and reviews.
    • If their business is listed with Google, you can also check for reviews there.

This research might sound extensive and daunting, but all of these checks are free and will give you greater peace of mind, especially if you’ve had bad experiences with therapy in the past. You can also ask trusted pals for help if you need it.

For extra tips on conducting research, download the guide.

Step 4: Reaching Out

Contact the therapists on your narrowed-down list to see if they offer initial consultations. These calls help you explore whether you and the therapist are a good fit. They last anywhere from 20 minutes to a full session. They are typically free or at a reduced rate.

Approach the initial consultation with an empowered mindset. You are interviewing them. If you’re a people-pleaser, it can be easy to defer to ‘authority’ figures and assume they know best. But it’s in your best interest to see if the therapist is a good fit, and you need to ask them the right questions to figure this out.

Questions like:

  • How long have you worked in this field?
  • Where did you receive your degree and training?
  • How do you handle payment and insurance? Is there a sliding scale based on income?
  • Have you treated patients with similar challenges to mine?
  • What is your intake process?

Additional questions to ask are inside the guide, but check in with your intuition during and after the call. Did they seem caring, kind, and understanding? If you’re comparing multiple therapists, write your assessments down for reference.

If the therapist doesn’t sit right with you, cross them off your list and move to the next one. And don’t let anyone pressure you into making a decision on the call. You are well within your right to tell them you’re exploring different options and will get back to them if needed.

Free Ways to Support Your Mental Health

Therapy can be expensive and inaccessible for many folks, which is why I publish new blogs every week. I am all about empowering you to change your life and I believe mental health information should be more readily available for everyone.

In line with my mission to increase joy and lessen suffering worldwide, here are free mental health resources you can use:

Inside the guide for this episode, you’ll also find a list of free ways to support your mental health, along with everything else discussed here.

I’d love to know if this guide helped you find a therapist or made the process less overwhelming. If you have extra tips you used to find a therapist, post them in the comments or tag me on Instagram (@terricole)! Let’s spread the wisdom.

I hope you have the most amazing week and as always, take care of you.

* Please note I receive a commission if you sign up to BetterHelp using my link, but I only recommend it because we vetted it and I trust their services. 

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