Have you ever wanted to see a therapist, but weren’t sure where to start? Whether having problems getting along with your partner and are seeking counseling for the first time, or you’ve been in therapy before for mental health, but your therapist is no longer practicing, finding someone you trust can be daunting.
Many people see a mental health professional when facing issues in their relationships, having family problems or need help coping with a chronic mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. Studies show that, above all other factors such as experience and education, the relationship you have with your therapist largely determines the outcome of your treatment.
A good therapist is someone who’s accepting, patient, a good listener, hones in on your strengths and cultivates feelings of hope. Asking your primary care physicians or a trusted family member or friend for a referral can be a good place to start. But you should also take some time to research therapists on your own to find the one that’s best for you.
Here are four tips to find a therapist that’ll meeting your needs.
- Determine the type of therapy that’s best for you. There are many options when it comes to therapeutic modalities. There’s cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on how negative and inaccurate thinking effects mental health. Psychoanalytic therapy focuses on bringing unconscious memories and feelings into conscious awareness with the aim of developing self-awareness and insight into dysfunctional patterns. Dialectical behavioral therapy helps individuals effectively regulate their emotions and cognitions.
- Decide what type of mental health professional you want to see. Mental health professionals have varied backgrounds and include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and licensed professional counselors.
- Make sure your therapist has expertise with the concerns you want to address. Expertise areas might include eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, anxiety or certain populations like adolescents or geriatrics.
- Be patient. It takes time to develop a therapeutic alliance. Try to meet with your new therapist for at least three sessions before making the decision if he or she is not right for you. Trial and error is often part of the process.