Signing up for the first therapist you find may not be the best idea...
Embarking on a journey towards emotional & mental well-being and self-discovery often involves seeking the guidance of a psychotherapist. However, with countless therapists and therapeutic approaches available, selecting the right professional can be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider when choosing a therapist. By understanding these considerations, I hope you can make more of an informed decision, ensuring a productive and supportive therapeutic relationship to help you reach the goals you have for yourself and/or relationship(s).
Personal Compatibility and Rapport
Establishing a strong therapeutic relationship is absolutely paramount to the success of therapy and is still cited as the #1 influential aspect to success in therapy. This is because you are going to a relative stranger, sharing the most intimate details of your life, and being very vulnerable with placing your fears, worries, sadness, trauma, etc. into their hands to help you heal from, so it is important to have a level of trust and security with your therapist. Take the time to schedule initial consultation (thought not all therapists are able to offer this), emails, or phone calls with the potential therapist (or have multiple strings out to others) to assess your compatibility. Pay attention to their communication style, demeanor, and the level of empathy and understanding they demonstrate. Remember, therapy involves vulnerability, so feeling safe and supported is vital.
What Therapeutic Modalities Are Used
Therapists employ various therapeutic modalities or approaches to address different mental health concerns. Some people find it is important to research and understand these modalities to find the one that aligns with your needs and goals. Still other people are not as concerned with the "type" of therapeutic techniques a therapist has. But having a basic understanding of what some common therapy theories are, can help you understand what to expect from your treatment with that therapist and how they may view your world. Common therapy modalities include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), system theory, solution-focused therapy, and mindfulness-based therapies, just to name a few. Consider your preferences, the specific issues you wish to address, and the evidence-based effectiveness of the modality in question. Remember that therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Expertise and Specializations
Therapists often have areas of specialization they have received extra training and supervision from, such as trauma, sexuality issues (desire differences, sexual functioning, or paraphilias, to name but a few), anxiety disorders, relationship issues, or addiction. Consider whether your potential therapist has expertise and experience in the specific area you seek help with (sometimes asking the scheduler who may be a good fit for your specific concern is an easier way to whittle down the options). Specializations can be important in addressing your unique needs and ensuring the therapist's familiarity with the latest research and best practices. Additionally, if you belong to a specific demographic group or require culturally sensitive therapy, it is beneficial to find a therapist who has experience working with individuals from similar backgrounds, or at the very least, is aware of the impact coming from a different cultural lens has on your life and the potentials for treatment.
Practical considerations can impact your therapy experience, or even allow you to begin therapy with a specific person. Taking into account factors such as location, availability, and cost is a realistic, and needed, thing. Do you prefer in-person sessions or are open to online therapy or a hybrid of both? Does the therapist's schedule aligns with yours? An awareness of their fees, insurance coverage (if any), and any sliding scale options available to accommodate your financial situation.
Seeking Referrals and Feedback
Seeking referrals from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or healthcare professionals, can be valuable when searching for a therapist. Hearing about their experiences and recommendations can provide insight and help narrow down your choices. Online platforms and directories dedicated to mental health services also offer reviews and feedback from clients and are a place where you can find out the answers to some of the considerations mentioned above. While individual experiences may vary, this information can give you a general sense of a therapist's reputation, style, and effectiveness at treating various concerns.
In the end...
Choosing a therapist is a personal and important decision. By considering therapeutic modalities and frames of reference, expertise in specialty areas, personal compatibility, practical factors, and seeing if you can get a tried-and-trusted referrals from people you know or website directories, you can make an informed choice that best suits your needs. Remember: finding the right therapist is an essential step towards healing and growth on your therapeutic journey and ensuring you have the comfort and trust to open up with your therapist is a good compass to use when finding yours. We're happy to help clients find casual, talk-based therapy in Minnesota! Especially trauma therapy and sex therapy with trauma-informed and sex positive therapists. Contact us today to find out more of how we could help, or help you find someone else.