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Finding The Right Therapist

Admitting to yourself that you may need professional help from a therapist may be a difficult and confusing process. Or, the severity of your symptoms may be mild, and you may feel that you can handle it on your own. However, for many people the way that they feel not just on the inside but the outside may worsen over time and by the time you are open to starting therapy you may not know where to start. Maybe you have started but you have a list of providers, and most have not returned your call back. This can be a frustrating process for most and prevent you from obtaining the help you need. Working as a therapist myself and bearing witness to the different barriers and challenges faced just to begin working with a therapist never fails to surprise me. My hope of writing this blog is to provide some insight on when to know if you would benefit from therapy, where to begin, and how to find the right fit.


When Should I Seek Therapy

Do you find yourself losing interest in things you used to enjoy? Are you having an increase in anger outbursts or irritability that is affecting your relationships? Do you have an increase in sleep disturbances? Have you been exposed to a traumatic event, and find yourself thinking about it when you do not want to? Or at times you feel like you are reliving the traumatic event? Have you had an increase in your substance use? Do you worry about things that are outside your control or is it difficult to stop worrying about things?

A way to know if therapy may be beneficial is that the symptoms are causing disruptions or conflict in relationships, ability to take care of things at home, problems completing tasks in your employment or school. For kids, you may notice that their grades have gone down and they stop participating in extracurricular activities or isolating themselves from friends and family.

If you can relate to one or all of these, you may benefit from seeking therapy.


What Prevents Individuals From Seeking Therapy

Someone may not want to seek therapy for a multitude of reasons such as out of shame or embarrassment. Maybe this person feels that therapy is not for them or they are afraid that the therapist or family members would think they are “crazy,” which may be a sign of mental health stigma. Well-meaning friends or family may deter others from seeking therapy. I had a family member once tell me “Quit the crap, just workout and you will feel better” when I disclosed that I was seeking therapy. Had I not been a therapist who has a background in mental health,, this could have been enough to deter me from getting help.

Additionally, some cultures believe that you should not tell strangers your problems and need to keep it in the family. When an individual has experienced complex trauma and relational trauma, it may be difficult to trust others. On a similar note, some individuals experiencing thoughts of wanting to harm/kill themselves or others may be afraid that the therapist will report this and potentially end in a hospitalization. It is important to note that although hospitalization is a possibility, it is not the first choice when a therapist learns that someone has thoughts of wanting to hurt or kill themselves. Typically, the therapist will assess the situation, the intent, and make a decision that is the least restrictive to keep the individual safe. If the therapist feels the individual is at-risk and unable to consent to a safety plan, then they will call a crisis team to assess and the crisis team will decide if the individual needs to be hospitalized.


I Am Interested in Therapy, Where Do I Start

  1. Ask yourself if you prefer online, in-person, or it does not matter if it is in-person or online? If you are open to either virtual or in-person therapy, then it will broaden your options to find a therapist. Since COVID, most therapists are now providing virtual therapy and finding an in-person therapist has become more difficult to find.

  2. Are you using your insurance, or can you pay for the services out-of-pocket? If you are looking into paying for your therapy out-of-pocket, how much can you pay? Additionally, if you are paying out-of-pocket, you can check with your insurance company if they reimburse all or some of the money by submitting a “superbill”. If they do, you can ask the therapist if they can provide you with a superbill. By paying out-of-pocket you may broaden your ability to find a therapist.

  3. Think about what you are looking for and willing to work on (trauma history, relationships, anxiety, OCD)? Knowing what you want to work on will help you look for a therapist that specializes in that area. Also, I recommend looking for evidence-based treatments that treat that specific problem and you can find a therapist who is trained in that area. For example, EMDR is an evidenced-based treatment that has shown to treat single and complex trauma. You can find a therapist that is trained in EMDR.

  4. What does your schedule look like? Do you need a therapist in the morning, afternoons, evenings, or weekends? Are you flexible on your time and can meet during your lunch time? If you have limited time due to attending in between breaks, lunch, or work, then you may consider online therapy because this would give you more time to participate in therapy.

How To Find a Therapist

  1. Call your insurance provider and ask for a list of providers in your area that are accepting your insurance. Sometimes the insurance company follows up with the providers to see who is currently accepting clients and what is the earliest they can provide an intake appointment.

  2. Go to an online platform that provides therapy in your area. Some online platforms are as follows:

    1. Google search

  3. Other ways to find a therapist is going to training websites for specific evidenced-based therapy. For example, if you want to find an EMDR trained therapist, you can go to EMDRIA. Coupleinstitute.com provides a list of providers that are trained in a specific couple’s therapy. You can also go to Facebook groups and find groups that provide referrals.

    1. Gottman Therapy (For Couple’s therapy)- Find a Couples Therapist Near You (gottman.com)


Finding the Right Therapist

Once you have an idea what type of therapy you are looking for and whether you prefer virtual/in-person services, you can start looking for the right fit. Most therapists provide free 15-20 minute consultation. You can contact the therapist and schedule a free consultation to see if they are a right fit.

Tips to know if a therapist is the right fit.

  1. Have a list of questions that are important for you:

    1. What type of therapy modality do they specialize in? How much experience do they have? What is their availability? Do they provide superbills? What is their cancellation policy? What are their credentials? Are they licensed? If not, who is supervising them? What is the experience of their supervisor?

  2. Does it matter if it is a male or female?

  3. How do you feel with the therapist? Trust your instincts. Do you feel comfortable with this person?

  4. If seeking online therapy, do you have a safe place to participate in therapy? How is your internet connection? Do they require you to be on a computer or can you use the phone for therapy? I do not require a computer but when doing EMDR bilateral stimulation, it is easier to do eye movements with a bigger screen.

  5. How does the atmosphere look/feel like in-person. If online, you can see what the background looks like.


Hopefully, these tips will help you with seeking therapy when needed and finding the right fit.






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