When we look for a therapist, we expect to sit down with a person who we feel comfortable around so that we can talk about sensitive subjects and maybe share information that we wouldn’t share with anyone else. We often try to find someone we can open up to and, most importantly, listen to. It’s important to choose the right therapist that matches your mental and emotional needs.
However, finding a suitable therapist is not a simple process and there can be far too many options online that you become overwhelmed and give up on your search. You can’t just judge a mental health professional based on a picture and a short bio. This is why we put together this guide to help you find the best therapist for your needs.
The Importance of Picking a Therapist That Matches your Needs
Just because a particular therapist managed to help a friend or relative of yours doesn’t mean that the same person can help you heal mentally and put an end to your problems. Even if they possess all the skills needed to resolve your mental problems, they won’t be able to help you if you don’t feel that kind of connection with them. This kind of connection is often referred to as the Therapeutic Alliance which is necessary in order for patients to share their stories comfortably without feeling like they’re being judged. Even without noticing, if you don’t feel close to your therapist, you’re not likely to share embarrassing behaviors or unflattering situations that may help your doctor find the roots of your problems. You won’t feel comfortable around them and you won’t be able to share your innermost thoughts about particular situations which all leads to your therapy being ineffective.
What to Do Before the Consultation
As a person who hasn’t tried therapy before, you’ll probably conduct your research based on referrals you get from your friends or found online. It would only be normal to look for someone who has the tools that can help you resolve your problems. Make sure you check their website for certifications, specializations, and information about their education. This is because there are many types of mental health accreditations and normally, patients would look for licensed professional counselors or LPC, for example. People also look for licensed clinical social workers, or LCSW, and licensed social workers but you should mainly try to find someone who has a Master’s degree in counseling or psychology. After you check for these credentials, you can verify them on the Department of Consumer Affairs website for the state you live in.
Choosing the Best Match
To find a therapist that you can work with, you need to consider some factors that may affect how you feel about them and whether you open up to them or not. For example, their gender may make a big difference depending on whether you would feel more comfortable talking to a man or to a woman. Age also contributes to the therapeutic alliance because some people look for therapists who are older than them to benefit from their perspective on life, some look for younger therapists, and some look for people around the same age as them.
If it matters to you if your therapist has any kind of religious affiliation, then you’d want to look for someone who is not religious. Some therapy offices and websites offer questionnaires that determine your preferences in regards to who you would like to talk with. Of course, it’s okay not to know who you’d rather speak with but these questionnaires make it easier to connect you to a person who can help.
What to Expect on the First Appointment
Your therapist will make sure to explain how the normal course of their session works during your first session so you don’t have to worry about needing to provide any particular information or inquiring about the dynamics of your treatment. Your doctor will start with explaining some information about confidentiality, then they will hand you some forms to sign. You may be asked or interviewed about your symptoms and treatment goals, your doctor will also ask about your medical history along with some questions that tackle your childhood, family, and maybe mental health treatment history. These questions are only to help your doctor gain a perfect overall view of your life so that they can reach out and resolve your issues.
Finding a therapist that matches your mental needs is crucial if you’re considering seeking help. The therapist you work with needs to have a calming presence and a personality that makes you comfortable to share your innermost thoughts and genuine feelings. This is why it’s important to look up as much information as possible about the therapist you’re planning to see.