If you wanted to learn a new skill, you could sign up for a class, read a book, watch a YouTube tutorial…you’d have lots of options. You might even tell your friends and family about your quest for knowledge. But if you were at a loss as to how to proceed in the most significant, most life-changing aspect of all – mental and emotional well-being- would you know where to start?
While assistance is sometimes available with friends or family, there are times a trained, competent outside party is more helpful. Choosing to work with a therapist is a big step, but a smart move for times that challenge the skills you already have. As an individual, a partner, a parent or a child you can gain a great deal from even a few sessions with a good therapist.
So how do you find one? Recommendations from friends, colleagues or medical care providers are all great places to start. You may hear a few names from multiple places – a good sign! If you want to use your insurance, cross-reference those names with the provider panel (but be aware many therapists do not take insurance). Do a little online research to narrow down your list, then call your top 3-5 choices.
You should be able to chat for a few minutes and get a feel for the personality and style of each therapist you talk to. Based on that, make an initial appointment with one or two before making your final decision.
A good “fit” for therapy is not a matter of choosing the nicest office, the best website or even the most pleasant person. You want someone who makes an effort to “get” you, who avoids assumptions that they already know your story and who will work actively to help you set and achieve goals. A competent therapist will also know his/her own skill set, and can make appropriate referrals in situations that require it. In California, therapists must work for years before they can test for licensure, so don’t assume that an intern is not a qualified therapist. This can be an especially cost-effective alternative for therapy.
The “best” therapist is the one who helps you. Take your time, choose carefully and commit to the work.
You’ll be glad you did!!