Finding the Perfect Fit
By: Nancy Hawley, MA, LMHC ~
You’ve decided you are ready to see a therapist but how do you choose the right person for you? It can be a daunting task and feel like spinning the wheel of fortune. You could win the jackpot on the first spin but you don’t need to feel as if you are playing with luck when it comes to your life struggles.
If you decide to search online for therapists in your area you likely land on a search engine that will give you plenty to choose from however it can be quite overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you find the right fit for you.
- Gender – some people prefer a certain gender. There is no right or wrong answer so go with your intuition.
- Ask friends or family for recommendations. Make sure that they or someone they know have experience with the therapist and haven’t just “heard the name.”
- Therapists typically have certain skills and areas of expertise. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have experience working with your particular concern. Steer away from therapists who claim they work with anyone. You don’t need a couples therapist if you are struggling with anxiety.
- Look at their website. A good website will lay out the therapist specialties, their licensure and education. The website should describe in what ways, or modalities, they use to help people.
- What does their picture say to you? Is their photo professional or of them doing one of their favorite pastimes? Do they have a warm smile, flashy clothing? These may seem like trivial things when looking for the right fit however following your basic instinct about what appeals to you will help you feel comfortable when sitting in their office.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if they are or have been in therapy. A therapist who has not done their personal work is more likely to bring their issues into your session.
- Be realistic about what you can afford and don’t be afraid to ask for it. If using your insurance is important to you, make sure they take your insurance and will bill for you. If your deductible or co-pay is high, it may make it worthwhile to pay out of pocket. Most therapists will offer a sliding scale fee to a percentage of their clients, ask if that will make it possible for you to get the help you desire.
- Schedule a phone call or consultation. Have a list of questions that are important to you. If the therapist hesitates in answering any of your questions related to you, move on. Some people want a therapist who will listen and allow you to process out loud, others take a more active role. Think about your best relationships; are you more attracted to people who are good listeners or great at giving feedback.
Mostly, listen to your gut about how comfortable you will be in sharing your personal struggles with this person. It may take several conversations to find the right fit but the end result will move you in the direction you desire.