How To Find The Right Therapist (6 Steps)

A therapist sits across from a client

If you have never gone to therapy before, it can be difficult to know how to find the right therapist that will be the right fit for you and your needs. 

It is an important decision because depending on what you are struggling with, choosing the correct therapist can make all the difference when it comes to your healing. 

So how do you find the right therapist?

1) Determine your needs and what you want to get out of therapy 

This is where you figure out the reason why you want to do go to therapy in the first place. It is time for some self-reflection, and to decide exactly what you need help with. 

  • Are you having relationship problems? 
  • Are you struggling with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression? 
  • Do you have symptoms of PTSD?  
  • Do you have a history of mental health conditions in your family? 
  • Are you having trouble managing your stress? 
  • Are you having problems at work?
  • Do you suspect you might have a condition like ADHD and you are searching for a diagnosis? 

You need to determine exactly what your needs are to determine who would be the best fit for you and your personal situation. 

2) Decide what type of therapist you need 

There are different types of mental health professionals that you can go to for therapy. They all vary based on education, experience, and expertise.  

Different professionals can help you with different concerns, which is why it is so important to determine your concerns first.  

The different types of mental health professionals are: 

Psychologists – A psychologist is great for diagnosing and treating mental health disorders that require extensive testing. They usually have areas they specialize in, and that they have done research in. Most of them, however, can not prescribe medication. 

Psychiatrists – Psychiatrists are experts on brain disorders. They usually evaluate to see if you need medication and then they can prescribe that medication for your mental illness. If you feel you might need medication to treat a disorder or to cope with what you are going through they may be the best fit. Just keep in mind that some of them don’t provide therapy. 

Counselors –  A counselor is someone that usually doesn’t have a Ph.D., but they are able to help work through many problems like stress, or childhood trauma. According to the American Mental Health Counselors Association, they usually take a more holistic approach to therapy. 

Marriage or couples therapists – A marriage or couples therapist is someone who specializes in seeing couples or individuals who are having problems in their relationships.  

3) Determine your budget

Unfortunately, therapy can be expensive, and the more qualifications and training a mental health professional has, the more expensive it may cost.  

It would be wise to determine if you have insurance that covers therapy, and if your insurance provider has guidelines for what type of therapy they cover, and if certain professionals accept your insurance.  

It would also be good to determine too how many visits your insurance covers.  

If you don’t have insurance, then pricing out how much it will cost vs. how often you think you may need to go would be wise.  

Some providers offer financial assistance or have sliding scale rates depending on your income level. 

4) Where are you planning on going? 

Are you planning on going to therapy after work, or during your lunch hours? If so you may want to find someone that is close to your place of work. 

Or do you feel more comfortable doing therapy online and video chatting? Or a combination of both?

5) Compile a list of options 

Something I found very helpful when I was determining who I was going to go see for therapy was to make a list of all my options.  

There are several ways to research what your options are. This includes: 

  • Searching online. You can often read reviews and check ratings to make sure you are going to someone that other people have found helpful. 
  • Asking people you trust (like friends or family) for recommendations.  
  • Check with professionals that are in your area 
  • Asking your insurance company for recommendations (if you have insurance) 
  • Ask your doctor for a referral  

6) Go to a first visit 

Some mental health professionals will do a consultation to both determine if you will be a good fit for each other, and to make sure that they can meet your needs. 

You may have to meet more than one professional before you make your decision and that is completely okay. 

Remember, it’s important to choose a mental health professional that you feel you can trust and that will be helpful on your healing journey. If you don’t feel like you would be a good fit with someone, or you don’t think you will get what you need it is okay to speak up or find someone else.  

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