One would think, with the plethora of information available on the web, that finding a therapist would be easy right? Not necessarily. Commonly I hear from folks that they did not even know where to begin, in finding a therapist that is going to be the right fit for them, and to thoroughly address the issues that they are experiencing. And like anything, the first ‘one’ you stumble upon is not necessarily going to be the right one. I always tell people, it is much like shopping for a car. Generally speaking of course, the majority of the American public, does not buy the first car that they eye on the lot. They shop around a bit, finding the right style and type of car that fits their budget, and appears to be the right one.
The following are some tips to follow in finding a good therapist that you are apt to stick with. By no means is this exhaustive, but can give you a very good start:
1. Ask your friends and family who they see, and if their therapist would give you a referral. In many cases, especially where family is concerned, you will not want to see the same therapist that they are seeing, but-their therapist can be a great first step.
2. Look online. Psychology Today and Good Therapy are great places to start, where you can do a search for a therapist in your region.
3. Look at the therapist’s picture. There is something to be said about their smile, and how they present themselves to the camera. If the picture is out of focus or appears to be seductive (like a glamour shot), run!
4. Call them and get a sense of their style. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their orientation, and how they approach certain issues (especially the issues that you are facing).
5. Ask them if they have ever been in therapy. Yes, that is correct. I would steer clear of anyone who has not done their own work on themselves. How can you really work your craft, if you have never experienced the benefits of it yourself? I am stunned over some of the stories I have heard over the years of therapists that have never sat on the other side of the room so to speak, and the boundaries that they cross regularly because of it.
6. Finally, pay attention to if there is pressure put upon you to schedule an appointment, and/or to return for another one. I always tell my folks at the end of the first visit, ‘No pressure. You can schedule another appointment now, or, you can go home and think about it. It is important for me, that you are comfortable, and that you believe this is a good fit, so it is going to be a positive experience for you’.
No one likes to be pressured-into anything. How many people have dealt with that pushy salesman for example? Did you want to go back?
I love to give this example from many years ago, when I was furniture shopping. The minute I walked in to this particular store I describe it as vultures attacking me. I couldn’t even breathe. Finally, as I managed to escape the madness, a very friendly gentleman came over and said to me, ‘You take your time looking. No pressure at all. I will be sitting over at my desk and let me know if you have any questions at all’. He let me breathe, and look around, and take my time. Guess who got the sale? Yep.. you guessed it-him. I felt free to make my own decisions, and not pressured into anything. So it goes with furniture, and so it goes with most things in life.
Follow the above steps, and you have a pretty good chance of landing the right therapist for you, and your needs.