Sometimes, it's beneficial to talk to someone who isn't a friend or family member. There are many factors to consider when finding the right therapist, but it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Since you will be sharing personal information and private thoughts, it's important to find a person you can trust—someone who will understand you and why you are seeking a new perspective.
Whether you've never been to therapy before or you're looking for a different therapist, there are ways to increase your odds of finding the right therapist for you.
1. Ask Someone You Trust
Often, a friend, family member, or professional you already have in your life (maybe a lawyer you work with or a primary care provider you've been seeing for years) will have a few suggestions on who to talk to. Keep in mind that you want to ask someone who supports you and respects your privacy. You don't need to go into details, either—simply say that you feel it would be helpful to talk to someone.
Also, when you think through your contacts, you may realize you already know someone who is a therapist or is friends with an individual who works in counseling. Asking a therapist for a referral to another therapist is normal. It's understood that talking to someone who isn't in your social circle is optimal, and they can recommend a quality therapist for you to consider.
2. Do Your Research
Whether you want to talk to someone about everyday challenges or specific mental health topics, it's important to consider what you want to address in your appointments. This will help you narrow your search to find the right therapist for you. Therapists often specialize in different areas, such as family therapy, couples therapy, or the individual concerns of addiction, grief, anxiety, and other common life situations. If possible, find out how much experience they have in an area or areas that apply to what you're looking for. Through research, you may even find someone who specializes in several areas that apply to you, as many therapists have multiple specialties.
During your research, you should also look into whether a therapist is licensed. You may be able to find this information online, but you can ask the therapist as well.
3. Use School and Work Connections
Many educational environments have support systems in place. If you have kids in school, it's likely that they have a school counselor you could ask for local resources. Similarly, if you studied at a nearby college, reach out to their counseling center. Often, these resource centers are happy to give advice to current students and alumni alike.
There are also Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) in place at many workplaces. These are designed to help employees through difficult times and may be part of your benefits package. These aren't always well advertised, so some employees may not even be aware that they exist. If you do have access to an EAP at your workplace, it can reduce your expenses, as counseling may be offered free of charge. Plus, the human resource professional in charge of the EAP will likely know how your employee insurance coverage can be used to access counseling locally.
4. Prepare for Your First Meeting
Once you find a therapist who may be a good match, prepare yourself for the first visit. Be sure to ask ahead of time if the therapist accepts your insurance.
During your first conversation, your therapist will likely ask you why you have decided to make an appointment and ask questions about your family and relationships. They are seeking this information to understand your background, not to pass judgement, so be honest.
It is completely normal to feel nervous during your first visit. If it's difficult to talk about an aspect of your life, simply tell your therapist that it is too difficult right now. Being open about your emotions is part of the process, too.
5. Don't Be Afraid to Try Again
Sometimes, the first therapist you meet with won't be the right match for you, and that is okay. Remember: you deserve to have a therapist who makes you feel respected, gives you paths to finding your own strength, and helps to establish goals for your own health. If you need to meet with more than one therapist to find that person, so be it—it's all part of the process.
When you find a therapist who is the right match for you, it can be an extremely rewarding relationship. With opportunities to learn more about yourself, it will be easier for you to achieve personal goals and strengthen your relationships.
There is a strong relationship between physical and mental health. Therapy is a helpful way to move forward, gain new perspectives, and make conscious choices to improve your life. Taking steps to advocate for your own health is courageous. Allow yourself the time you need to do the research and find the right therapist for you.
For more mental wellness tips, as well as information on the mind-body connection, check out the Yoga and Mindfulness board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Finding a therapist you trust can help you take steps to feel more empowered and reach your goals. With a bit of research, you can find the right confidant for you.