Throughout our lives, many of us will have a time where we struggle with our mental health. Just as you might reach out to a physiotherapist when you injure your knee, it's important to reach out for help with your mental health too. But how do you find the right therapist for you? Neat pal, Blair, is here to share her top tips...
“I need help but I don’t know where to start!”
It's an incredibly common feeling for people looking for a mental health therapist. And rightfully so – how do you know who’s going to be able to help you the most, when there are tons of people who could? A simple Google search just won’t cut it! So, here are some simple ways to help you find the right fit:
What’s bugging you? How often do you feel that way? How much time are you thinking about the problem? How is this impacting your work, your relationships, your happiness? What seems to be the BIGGEST problem for you? And most importantly, how will you share all of this with someone who could help?
Knowing what type of issue you are facing can be vital to finding the right therapist. For example, some therapists specialize in addiction issues or sexual identity struggles, some are more general in their focus like those that address depression and anxiety or life transitions.
The therapeutic relationship is one of the most important factors in seeing effective outcomes; finding the right “fit” with a therapist is incredibly important in developing that relationship. Knowing the problem you are hoping to address and finding someone who does that type of work is the first step in finding the right therapist.
Do Your Research
Many markets are saturated with therapists, even when you’ve narrowed down the type of services you’ll be needing. Get specific with your search domains. For example, if you’re a yogi like me, you may want to find someone who aligns with yogic philosophy and offers mindfulness-based services or incorporates yoga into their therapy practice. On PsychologyToday, you can specify the gender, therapeutic approach, insurance accepted, and many other specific domains that will help you find a therapist that will work for you.
If you’re going through your insurance, you can build a list of providers that specialize in areas that are most important to you. Start by putting together a shortlist of providers who may be right for you.
Trial and Error
It's fine to be choosy; in fact, therapists want that! They want to fit with you just as much as you want to fit with them. Research shows that having a good working relationship with your therapist works more effectively than most evidence-based therapeutic methods. Build a list of potential therapists and reach out. Set up a phone call or consultation to get to know each one on your list and then make your choice. It also takes some time to know which therapist is the right one for you; be patient. It is nice to let each therapist know you are shopping around so they aren’t surprised if you go a different direction.
When trying out therapists, it’s helpful to let them know EVERYTHING you feel comfortable sharing. Here are some things that most therapists find helpful to know: past trauma or abuse, symptoms that impact your life the most, how things feel in your body, concerns you have about the therapy process or barriers to maintaining an active role in services, and what your potential goals or hopes are from the services you are receiving.
Letting your potential therapist know these concerns allows them the opportunity to guide you in the right direction if they aren’t a good match. And if they are a good fit, it helps you establish goals early in services.
Finally, once you find a good fit, its best to make an intentional effort to remain consistent. The therapeutic process can put your worries under a microscope, making them feel bigger and more intense at first. STAY WITH IT. The only way to effectively get through the tough stuff is to keep going. Let your therapist know when things get tough and use the alliance of your “good fit” to help you manage.
Ultimately, therapy is an amazing tool at your disposal. Make sure you find someone who can really help you maximize your strengths and achieve your goals.
This blogpost was written by yogi Blair Sanning. For more from Blair, check her out on Instagram.