Finding a good therapist can be tricky, but it is definitely worth the effort. My own experience has seen me though five therapists until I found a good fit. Two of those five, I only saw once before knowing that it just wasn’t going to work. My third, I stuck with for several long months before leaving and looking for a better fit. Then, therapist number 4 ghosted me. She kept rescheduling at the last minute, week after week after week, until I realized she did not have the intention to ever see me again. Number five, she’s a good fit, and worth the wait.
So, how do you find a therapist? There are several paths to take. One is to simply go through your insurance company. Log onto their website and look through the list of covered mental healthcare professionals within your designated radius. You can then just call through your list until you find someone who can see you in a timely manner. This is probably one of the more “risky” ways to find someone, as you won’t really know anything about them.
Another way to look, is to go to the psychologytoday.com database and search for professionals in your area. You can narrow the search this way, and read a bit about each professional. This can be more time consuming, but doing the work up front can save you some headaches in the future. Once you have narrowed the list down to some people you like, and that list your insurance, it’s time to call their offices. Make sure to double check that they do accept your insurance (or, if you are uninsured, ask if they have a discount for those paying out of pocket). Find out how soon they can see you, and make sure the times their office is open will work with your schedule. The last thing you want is to find someone that you work well with, only to discover that they are only open during the hours you have to be at work.
You can also use Google to find someone. Type in search queries such as “best therapist near me”, or “counseling centers”. If you are planning to pay out of pocket and money is tight, try looking for a pro bono service. Another option is to see if a college near you has a clinic where they let their master’s students practice under the supervision of the professors. Often these clinics offer service on a sliding scale. My husband and I used such a service before we were married to receive couples counseling, and found it to be helpful. Often, they will either have classmates watching through a one-way mirror, or will film the session. This is all done only with your written permission.
Once you have found a therapist, determining if they are a good fit is a different process for different people. Some things to pay attention to is if you feel you can be open and honest with them, and if they appear to provide attentive counseling. Often, you may not know from only one session if it is a good fit, and it is often recommended that you see them several times before deciding for sure. In the beginning when I only saw my first two therapists once, I was probably a bit hasty in making my decision to move on. Perhaps if I had been patient, I would have found a therapeutic relationship would have been possible.
I discuss the different types of mental health professionals here.
Do you have a good therapist? If so, how did you find him or her? Did it take a few tries to find someone, or did you luck out the first time around? Let me know either in the comments, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . I can’t wait to hear from you!