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Tips from a Therapist on Finding the “Right” Therapist
The search for the “right fit” of a therapist is extremely important for those that are seeking a therapist for the first time, want to resume therapy or want to switch to a new therapist all together(after you process that with your current therapist, of course).
Here are some tips that I believe we must all consider when looking for a therapist:
Contact the therapist via phone. Most therapists offer a free phone consultation. There you can ask questions to the therapist. Ask what is important for you to know about the type of treatment, the issues/concerns that you want to work through, and if they use evidence-based treatment in their practice.Evidence-based treatment (for depression, trauma,sexual abuse, substance dependency, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive behavior, etc) is based on published research of controlled studies that meet adequate criteria.Find out, if possible, how much experience they have had.
Ask the potential therapist how they practice from an anti-oppressive, antiracist framework. If you want to find a therapist that represents you culturally, ethnically or in any other way, do the research.Inclusive clinicians of color exist!
Find out in advance what their fees are, their cancelation policy and the fees for missed sessions and, if possible, how long therapy might take. If you are utilizing health insurance to cover the costs of therapy; ask if they are in network providers with your health insurance or if they are out of network (OON) providers. A good idea is to also contact your insurance carrier and ask if your policy has OON benefits.
Location, location, location! Find out where the therapist’s office is located(subway lines, or quickest routes for your convenience).Do not be shy to ask this, I know you can probably Google it but the therapist might know a faster route. You won't know unless you ask! Inquire about telehealth/remote therapy services. Many therapists have completely switched their practices to providing remote therapy because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Knowing the type practice setting(clinic, community mental health center, medical school, independent practice or any other setting) is also important as different settings have different practice guidelines, schedule flexibility, coverage, etc.
Availability for appointments. Find out the hours they are available for your treatment, what are the therapist’s emergency protocols (if they will see you or provide crisis management in case of an emergency). Again, different practice settings have their own protocols in terms of “treatment compliance.” For example, some community mental health clinics have attendance policies where if you “miss/cancel or no show” to a certain number of sessions in a determined period of time, they may discharge you from treatment and you’d need to reapply for therapy services. Ask what their discharge policies are.
Inquire about what kind of therapy your potential therapist is likely to provide such as, long term versus short term, individual or group therapy, what theoretical orientation and see if it fits your interests.
Selecting a therapist is a very personal matter. There is no “one size fits all” therapist, as not everyone is attuned to your unique needs. It is extremely important that you feel a sense of trust and that this therapist that you’ve chosen can assist you. Trust your gut!
Once you’ve asked all these or any other questions and have gathered enough information,you can take time to “sit with” how the phone consultations with the potential therapists went . Additionally, you may schedule an initial appointment with one or two therapists(or more!) to see your comfort level with them. If you are using insurance, inquire about how many intake assessments per calendar year your policy allows. Do not feel rushed or pressured into scheduling an initial appointment if you are not ready. Take all the time you need, this is your healing process and you are in control of it!
Feel free to contact me to schedule a session. For uplifting content and updates you can also follow me on Instagram @mariabaulcsw
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