How to Find a Therapist

The most important thing to remember is that you have choices. If you don’t feel comfortable for some reason, trust your instincts.

Whether you have been in therapy before or you are returning to therapy after some time away, finding a therapist is no small task! And, most of the time when we are looking for help, it is because we aren’t feeling good. So, here are some pointers to guide the process.

Where do I start?

There are a number of different ways to find therapists to consider working with. A lot of folks are using the internet these days. Checking with your insurance company to get names of therapists, cross checking those names with therapist websites and/or Psychology Today’s Therapist Finder, asking friends, asking your primary care provider, walking by a therapist’s office in your neighborhood.

It can help a lot when you go see your primary care provider, to bring a list of therapists from your insurance company’s website. I always recommend that you search only by zip code and not choose specialties of these clinicians because there is often a limit on the number of specialties a clinician can click and they may have missed the one specialty that you chose in your search. This way you will get a more comprehensive list for your primary care provider or other folks to review for clinicians they may know.

There are so many, how do I pick one?

In the initial stages, you can certainly look and find two or three therapists to evaluate. It is helpful to have a point of comparison. You may have sense of what you do and don’t want, so this might not be necessary. You get to decide!

How do I know what I am looking for?

There are several things to consider when you are looking for a therapist who might be a good match for you. Match? Most of the time, what we talk about in therapy is very personal, it makes a lot of sense to seek out a therapist that you feel comfortable with.

What does this mean?

The following are not in any particular order, because you get to decide which of these is most important to you. You also might not know right now about some of these and that’s okay too.

  • Location
    Therapy is usually once a week for 45-55 minutes, at least intially. It helps to choose a location that feels manageable for you. Do you want to find someone close to work? Home?
  • Schedule
    Some people like to start out their day with therapy, some like to go mid-day, and others prefer end of the day.
  • Finances
    Do you want to use your insurance? Can you pay the full fee? Does the therapist offer a sliding scale? If you choose to use insurance, it is important to ask the therapist if they take your insurance.
  • Similarities and differences to your own experience
    Which similarities? For example, someone “out” about their recovery or their identity.
    Which differences? For example, someone older or younger than you are
  • Areas of expertise and theoretical orientation
    Sometimes people look for a therapist who does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or EMDR or someone who works with the particular issue you are most concerned about. These things can be important, but it is also important to feel comfortable with the person you choose to work with (more on this in the next section).
  • What type of clinician do you want to work with? Many times, the training that a provider has had matters less than how you feel with them. There are a number of license types and degrees that therapists have. There is a slideshow of different provider types here.
  • The messages you get from their online profile and/or website is important too. Does the therapist feel approachable? Warm? Even if you feel neutral about a profile, it might be worth following up if they match all of the other things you are looking for.

Once you have chosen someone to contact, you might consider the following:

  • When they get back to your inquiry.
  • How do you feel when you speak with them on the phone?
  • Are they open to your questions?
  • Does the scheduling work?

The most important thing to remember is that you have choices. If you don’t feel comfortable for some reason, trust your instincts. If you aren’t sure, it’s okay to ask questions. This is true even when you have already started therapy, but I’ll talk about that in a different post.

Feel free to contact me to decide if I am a good match for you.

Author: arrynhawthorne

Psychotherapist, Trainer, Consultant and Writer