Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Who is the right therapist for me?
When looking for a therapist please be aware that therapist or counselors are not able to provide medications, as they are not doctors. Only a doctor such as a psychiatrist or medical doctor can prescribed medications for psychiatric conditions. A therapist maybe able to recommend that you should get medications but they can not prescribe.
Finding a therapist can be a daunting task, as not all therapists are the same. Some therapist use different modalities and treat a specific population. So finding the therapist that is right for you requires you to ask some questions of yourself and your potential therapist.
If you think you do not have the right therapist speak up, it is your therapy and money; a good therapist will not be offended by you telling them that you do not think they are good fit for you.
What to ask yourself before looking for a therapist?
First give yourself credit for accepting that you need professional help for yourself. This is a big step towards bettering yourself.
1. Location, Location, Location
Finding a location for a therapist is the first task, always have a therapist that is licensed in the state that you reside in. You can check out a therapist at the licensing board for the state that you reside in to make sure that they are licensed in your state. Then ask yourself what is the best environment for you to have therapy in? Do you require a brick and mortar office that you can go to? If so then you will want to make sure that the therapist has an office that is located someplace that is going to be convenient for you to access appointments. A brick and mortar office is going to more ideal for individuals that have chronic mental health conditions
If a brick and mortar building is not want you want,then do you want therapy in the comfort of your home? Then locating a therapist that can make home visits, or provide tele-health visits is key. Home-based visits are when the therapist will come to your home to complete a session, this is most helpful for family based therapy. Tele-health visits are like online counseling, in that you need to have access to a camera and a microphone or a computer with a camera/microphone. The counselor will have a secure platform to invite you to a video conference to complete the session. Don't be afraid to ask that they are using a secure method of communication with you if you chose this method.
2. What do I want from therapy?
Next ask yourself what do you hope to achieve in counseling. This is important as different therapist have specialties in different areas, and finding one that specializes in the things you are hoping to achieve in counseling is essential. For example if you are looking to stop drinking, you will want a therapist that has had some experience in substance abuse. Also ask yourself what level of therapeutic involvement do I need, as this will help determine if you need a counselor that can provide 24/7 services like crisis counseling or if you need a counselor just for the time that you have scheduled for a session each week.
3. Which type of therapist is best for me?
Ask yourself how you respond to people, this will help determine what type of therapist will align best with you. Remember that therapists are people and you will be entering a therapeutic relationship with this person so you want someone who aligns with your personality type. So for example if you are a Type A Personality type then you will appreciate having a therapist that is also Type A, or has traits that are Type A. It is okay to ask your therapist what type of personality they have and how that incorporates into the therapy they practice. Additionally if you respond well to directness, you may want to seek a therapist can be direct with you and not sugar coat things, but if you know that you do not respond well to that look for a counselor that is more empathetic and indirect.
4. Which modality of therapy is right for me?
If you have never been in therapy before finding a therapist that uses multiple different counseling theories will be important for you to explore which one is the right one for you. Having a therapist with multiple approaches to counseling can also be important for the experienced person in counseling as not everyone responds to things the same way and having that experience can only further your goals in counseling. If you have been in therapy before and know that you need Exposure Therapy, then please find someone who uses that modality and has been trained in. If you are not sure just ask as a therapist should always be willing to share with you what they have been trained in.
5. Which population do you identify with?
If you are of a certain population, like a child, teen, adult, or elderly person, you will want to find a therapist that has some experience working with that population. Additionally, if you identify as someone on the LGTBQ spectrum, you will want a therapist that has experience working with you. This also applies to other populations like veterans, recently physically disabled, looking for someone that handles court order therapy, in need of an ESA (Emotional Support Animal), spiritual counseling or any other specific population not mentioned here. Remember this is your therapy and you want someone that can not only relate to you but that has experience working with your population type.