Choosing a Therapist
How do I know that it is time to look for a therapist … “When you are stuck.” M. Scott Peck, MD
How do I find a good therapist for individual or couples therapy…
Before you begin your search think about whether you have a preference for the gender of the therapist; also what personality characteristics would be most or least appealing. Do not be as concerned with the method of treatment, theoretical orientation or letters after the name, as you are with whether the therapist is competent and how comfortable you feel with him/her. The therapist should be licensed if the state requires it. How motivated you are to do the work is also an extremely important variable regarding successful outcome.
Take your choice seriously. This is not someone you will see once a year for a physical. This is someone with whom you will form an intimate psychological bond. A person you will learn to trust in order for you to succeed. Word of mouth is always the best way to find your therapist. If that isn’t possible, visiting the person’s website is a good second choice. Make contact with as many therapists as you wish at no cost to you by calling and/or emailing them. How they respond to your phone call or email will give you the first hint as to whether this is someone with whom you will want further contact. It is my opinion that you will get a stronger intuitive sense about this person if you stick to the phone as opposed to emailing, however, you may prefer the more impersonal method. Does he/she take days to respond to your inquiry? Does he/she respond directly or does the receptionist return your message? How willing is he/she to spend a few minutes with you over the phone prior to suggesting a time to meet? Does it appear that he/she is more interested in “serving” or “selling”? After you have spoken with as many therapists as you wish over the phone, narrow it down to one or two with whom you will choose to meet.
Remember that during the initial session, you are interviewing the therapist as much as he/she is interviewing you. Do not hesitate to ask pertinent questions. You are entitled to respectful, honest answers. Rely on your intuitive judgment to determine whether this therapist is skilled and genuinely caring. If you have any doubts, interview at least one other individual.
Entering psychotherapy is a very courageous act. I commend you for taking the step and in spite of all its challenging components, I believe a successful psychotherapeutic experience is transforming and one of the most inspirational pilgrimages of this life.