How does this even work? Who should I pick? How much will this cost? How long will I have to go? Can I really talk about this stuff with a stranger? Does going to therapy mean something’s wrong with me? Why can’t I figure this stuff out on my own? What would my family think if they knew?
If you’ve never gone to therapy, not knowing where to start can leave you feeling totally stuck and overwhelmed. I want to help you solve a little bit of the mystery about the process of finding your therapist. And, give you some tips so you can find your way to a good match.
1. Think about who you’d want to work with – what matters to you? Years of experience? Specialty? Gender, age, ethnicity, days/hours of availability, or location? Or maybe you’re looking for someone with a gentle, friendly approach and an easy smile. It’s okay to have preferences and seek someone you feel good about working with. You deserve to find someone who helps you feel confident and hopeful about therapy.
2. Start your search! Consider approaching this part as recruiting the next support person on your team. Or, think of it as a treasure hunt! You may be pleasantly surprised with what and who you find. I recommend Googling your location, what you are wanting help with (anxiety, sex, trauma, etc.) and “therapist.” Check out websites – read about the therapist and their FAQ page if they have one. I also suggest asking your closest friends or family members if they know of any therapists they would recommend (you’d be surprised at the number of people in your circle who have had or are in therapy!) When you see, read, or hear about someone you feel curious or positive about, favorite the web page or jot down their name and contact info.
3. Reach out to multiple therapists. Many of us can be reached via phone call or email. Ask your questions (no question is a stupid question, by the way) and see how you feel with the responses you receive. You want to feel valued right off the bat.
4. Choose the person you felt best about and schedule your first session. Part of this process will likely require you to review and complete some consent forms that cover the agreements between you and the therapist, and an intake questionnaire that tells the therapist a little bit about who you are and what you are seeking help with.
5. Show up for your first session and experience it as an opportunity to see if you feel good about your therapist. Keep in mind it is totally normal to have a case of the nerves your first time, but, you should feel that your therapist is making efforts to help you feel welcome and comfortable. If you don’t, it is okay to not return and return to your search.
We therapists are also concerned with finding clients that are the best fit for us. It helps set therapy up for success when both therapist and client feel confident, hopeful, and comfortable with each other. I find myself pretty excited when working with clients who are curious to learn about themselves, want to collaborate with me on their process of growth, and can appreciate natural, relaxed conversation and a sense of humor. I enjoy exploring client’s beliefs, experiences, needs, and relationships with them – especially the part when my client realizes they had more strength, care, and creativity than they ever expected.
Good luck on your journey, and happy hunting!
Hi, I’m Veronica Perez-Thayer, therapist for individuals and couples at Love Heal Grow Counseling.
I help hurting couples find a way through their differences to a place of love and togetherness.
You can read more about me or schedule an appointment here: About Veronica