So you’re looking therapist.
Now that you’ve decided to begin your greatest life’s work, you must locate a trained professional to guide you. Although an extremely cathartic process, getting started with counseling can be nerve wrecking. Locating a therapist that you connect with and trust with your most classified thoughts requires research and patience. Whether you are coping with anxiety, relationship issues, or just need to talk, discovering a knowledgeable and empathetic helper makes all the difference. Having an idea of what to look for will expedite the process.
Here are a few pointers to help guide your search:
Locate a Therapist Whose Specialty Interests You
Read profiles and visit websites. Most therapists provide service information online, whether that be a website or professional directory profile. Many have both. These online tools aim to inform you of a therapist’s experience and interests. The more interests a provider has in your area of concern, the more likely they are to have an arsenal of interventions to assist you.
You may find a therapist’s name by searching your insurance provider’s website, browsing an online directory, or simply Googling therapy and your zip code.
Do Not Use Online Presence to Vet Your Therapist
Although reviewing online materials is a major tool in your therapist search , it cannot replace a live discussion. Once you have identified a few therapists with knowledge of your concern, reach out to those therapists for a consultation. A consultation is a dialogue between you and the therapist regarding your specific situation, your needs and how the therapist may assist. Consultations typically occur for 15 to 20 minutes. Most consultations will take place over the phone though there are a few therapists (myself included) who prefer face to face consultations.
Ask Questions during Your Consult
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Therapy can be a very vulnerable place. This is natural and does not reflect poorly on you. Therapy is a process and both partners (you and your therapist) must understand the goals of that process for therapy to be effective. I tell my clients “I am the expert on the skills and processes, you are the expert on your situation.”
Important questions will focus on how you and the therapist will engage, your expectations, office policies, and general practices. For example: Understanding how discomfort is handled promotes your ability to disclose and accept feedback. I urge you to remember to ask questions during consultation and at anytime through your journey. A competent counselor will manage any question you toss their way.
Avoid Focusing on the Money
Now I know money is a sensitive subject. It is also a necessary component to the process. The biggest mistake I have observed is shopping for therapy. An overemphasis on the cost of services allows other important components to be overlooked. This is not encouragement to throw caution to the wind, take out a loan and see the most expensive therapist you can find. What I want you to consider is that by focusing on pricing you are emphasizing your financial needs while disregarding other needs. Often a $10 to $15 difference is a small sacrifice compared to the emotional or psychological gains acquired. Poor client and therapist matches are more likely to occur when cost is the primary factor in choosing a therapist.
I encourage you to speak with your prospective therapist candidly about any financial concerns. They may offer alternative options to accommodate your budget; this may include bi-weekly sessions, varied session lengths, group options, or a sliding scale.
Trust Your Instincts
Pay attention to your responses, behaviors, and attitudes. Were you tight and careful with your words? Were you able to speak freely? Did you enjoy the process? How did you feel in the moment? It is important to feel heard. If you felt that you could freely express your thoughts, feelings, concerns, and complaints without unnecessary interruption and judgment you are likely to have found a winner. Although credentials and education are extremely valuable and must be evaluated, the ultimate deciding factor is commonly based on a feeling or vibe as some call it.
If you can’t tell, I find the relationship between you and your counselor to be an important factor in the process. Whenever possible, request a consultation prior to committing to services. This is your opportunity to ask questions and evaluate your comfort level as described above.
My desire to ensure comfort with new clients has led me to offer complimentary strategy sessions for all clients who wish to work with me. Currently I offer a one-time 30-minute therapy consultation to Georgia residents interested in my services. Learn more about complimentary consultations for Georgia residents. Therapy Consults are designed as a safe space for clients to ask questions and voice themselves free of expectation. No Strings Attached.
As always, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about the therapeutic process (even if you are outside of Georgia). Drop a line in the comments of email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes on your Journey to Be Your Best You.
Rayvéne is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Master Addiction Counselor in Smyrna, GA (just outside Atlanta.)
Empowering women to remove the mask of other people’s expectations and have the Audacity to be themselves. Encouraging you to connect with your identity and ignore the noise of other’s opinions and expectations. I also help overwhelmed couples find a healthy balance between caring for themselves and one another.
LGBTQQI affirming therapist and ally. Many clients are professionals who are seeking balance and relief from stressors of success. Learn more at www.simplicitypsychotherapy.com