For therapy to be effective, you must be willing to demonstrate vulnerability by sharing private concerns about your life. So, it’s unsurprising that you would want a therapist who is trustworthy, reliable, nonjudgmental and worthy of your respect. Research has shown, in fact, that a strong therapeutic alliance is one of the most important factors that enhance therapy results.
Here are some suggested steps to find the right therapist for you:
- Step 1: Create a list. Ask friends/family for recommendations, check your insurance plan’s provider list and search sites like Psychology Today.
- Step 2: Verify cost. Determine whether the therapists on your list are covered by your insurance plan and, if so, what you’ll be required to pay per session. (This can vary greatly, based on your insurance plan’s deductible, covered services, etc.)
- Step 3: Do your homework. Check here to verify that the potential therapist is licensed and in good standing. Visit his or her website to determine areas of expertise, treatment modality, etc. If the website has a bio, read about the therapist’s prior experience working with clients who have concerns similar to yours. If this info isn’t available on the website, call and ask.
- Step 4: Get started! Now that you’ve determined the therapist on your list that seems to fit best with your needs, it’s time to schedule an intake session. This usually consists of the therapist gathering background information about your history, symptoms, prior therapy, etc. in order to create a treatment plan for meeting your goals.
Now that you have more clarity about how to find a good therapist, let’s discuss some “red flags” to look out for as you begin the therapy process. A therapist might not be competent, ethical and/or particularly well-suited to work with you if he or she:
- claims to have many different “specialties.” By definition, a specialty is an area of focus where much time has been spent/expertise has been developed. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that a therapist can reasonably have, say, 10 different “specialties.”
- attempts to influence you with personal beliefs. Whether it’s about religion, politics or the best type of diet to follow, this type of unsolicited advice is highly inappropriate in therapy.
- talks too much or not enough. This may sound “picky,” but therapists should not excessively self-disclose about their lives. At the same time, they should not be silent the entire session.
- is frequently distracted during session. Ultimately, you are paying for a service, and part of that service is a therapist’s full attention. If he or she is looking at the clock throughout session, not making eye contact, etc., it may be time to seek services elsewhere.