Finding the Right Therapist
Ok, so you’ve decided you want some help. You’ve decided counselling is for you and you want to reach out to a professional therapist. But how do you find the right person? What do you look for? What questions do you ask? And how do you know if it’s a good fit?
The most important factor in determining whether psychotherapy is effective is the relationship between the therapist and the client, so choosing is no small thing. There are many elements to consider. Let’s get to it…
Specialties…What would you like help with? What is bothering you? What are you struggling with? If you have experienced some type of traumatic event, it would be wise to look for someone with experience treating trauma. If you experience anxiety or depression, you can look for therapists who specialize in these areas, though most therapists have some experience with common concerns. But what about more specific concerns? What if you are looking for someone to help with the stress associated with raising your child with autism or other special needs? What if you are looking specifically for someone who works with couples or does EMDR? These and many more specialties can often be determined by reading online profiles or website biographies. It’s important to know that you can ask a counsellor what experience they have when you call to book. Ask what training they have in the area of your concern, and what experience they have treating clients with that problem.
Techniques, strategies, and theoretical approach…So you’ve found a few therapists online who seem to be able to help you. Now you can consider how they’ll help. Feel free to ask questions about what techniques or strategies they use. Have them explain those approaches to you. Maybe you’ve heard that EMDR can help with your self-worth or your phobia, but you don’t really understand how it works. A qualified therapist should be able to explain so that you feel comfortable with their psychological approach. Maybe you want a therapist who does work in attachment theory, or maybe you have no idea what that is. Maybe you want your couples therapist to be Gottman trained, or maybe you could care less. You’re allowed to ask questions and I encourage you to do so! Psychotherapy is as different as the therapists who offer it, so how they work is certainly something to consider. Ideally, find someone who uses treatment strategies that are backed by research and proven to help with the concerns you have.
Qualifications…psychotherapy is a highly trained professional endeavour. It’s important to know whether the therapist you’re considering working with is qualified. I am a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. What is the difference between that and a Registered Psychologist or a life coach? Working with someone who is trained in how to assess and treat you is important.
Fees and coverage…Let’s face it, psychotherapy is an investment. There are different fee recommendations from various psychotherapy associations and colleges, but many therapist vary slightly from these suggestions. Some therapist services are covered by your insurance provider and some may not be. Should you always choose a provider that is covered by your benefits? Maybe, but consider the cost once your benefits have been exhausted, as well. Psychotherapy is ultimately one of the ways you can take yourself from where you are to where you’d like to be in your life. Many people feels it’s worth the money they spend, but it’s good to know ahead of time how much you’ll be paying for your sessions both before and after any insurance coverage is applied.
Personality…Let’s face it – if you don’t like your therapist, you are not likely to continue going. Especially when there are deep topics and hard work to tackle. I once heard a psychologist use the analogy of shoe shopping to illustrate the importance of “fit”, and I think it’s brilliant. No point walking around in shoes that pinch your toes. When you find a good fit, you’ll know. I tell each of my clients during their first session that if they don’t feel like I am the perfect fit for them, I want them to continue looking. The goal is to match each client with the right therapist, and if that’s not me, I want them to keep shopping around. I encourage you to trust your instincts the same way you do when meeting anyone new. If a therapist leaves you feeling like they are trustworthy, approachable, and non-judgmental, they might be right for you. If you leave feeling supported, cared for, and willing to be vulnerable, it’s a good sign of the work ahead.
Areas of expertise, qualifications, cost, and personal fit…with these considerations in mind, you’re more likely to find the right therapist for you. Good luck and happy searching!
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