How to Find the Right Therapist for Yourself or a Dependant

8 simple, practical steps to guide you

Posted Aug 25, 2019

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For those who have never been to a mental health therapist, or had a less than satisfactory past experience with therapy, starting the process may seem daunting. Here are some suggestions for getting started in a way that has the best chances of successfully reaching the desired outcome.

1.    Be willing to interview a few different individuals until you meet someone with whom you feel at ease.

Effective therapy involves working with a knowledgeable person who has both the experience working with your type of problem (chronic anxiety, depression, couples' conflict, etc.) and a personality style which is reassuring for you. 

2.     Check your health insurance plan to see if you have coverage for “outpatient mental health.”

 If yes, search the provider list for a provider within your insurance plan.  Make the first appointment as soon as possible in order to reduce your anxiety and get started.

If you don’t have insurance coverage for mental health, and have limited funds available to use, look for a community mental health center near you.  Many community-funded clinics will offer counseling on a sliding fee scale, i.e., you pay what you can afford to pay.  Another option is to call a private practice group and ask if anyone in the group sees clients on a sliding fee scale.

3.    Before even going to the first meeting with someone, ask if they can meet your scheduling needs.

For example, if you have no choice other than to schedule on the weekends or on evenings after 6 PM, make that known before making the first appointment.

4.    By the end of the first meeting, ask about that clinician’s experience and credentials for working with the type of problem that you’re experiencing.

Most clinicians will appreciate that you need to know this information in order to decide if you can work confidently with them.

5.    Ask about their usual method of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral vs. insight-oriented vs. supportive etc.

 These are all acceptable ways of doing psychotherapy but it is critical that the therapist and client can work together in a way that brings about the desired changes.

6.     If you’re not certain after the first meeting but everything seems like a good match, it may just be your own anxiety about the process.

Meet two more times. Common therapy wisdom is that a good “working relationship” should be established by the end of the third meeting.

7.     If you’re still uneasy after the third meeting with the same person, move on to your next option as a therapist.

8.    Most importantly, don’t give up!

There are many qualified clinicians in private practices, medical centers and community clinics. Your persistence will be rewarded when you find the right one for you.