Therapy is nerve wracking and uncomfortable to make that first initial jump. Seriously though that first phone call and first session take the most courage. I don't think enough people are aware that they can fire their therapist too if it isn't a good fit. Unfortunately in the medical and helping field providers are treated like the expert but really YOU are the expert on who you feel the most comfortable with, who you will work best with. So take charge and use these five questions to help you find the best therapist for YOU.
1. Immediate reaction here - Do you find the therapist likable?
I don't know about you all but for me it is going to be very challenging to rationalize spending anywhere from $90 up to $200 an hour with someone I don't even find likable. If anything I am just going to get more and more resentful and probably quit therapy, most likely forever since now I have had a bad experience. So let's not do that to ourselves, if you don't find the person likable this is not your person and that is completely okay. Try out someone else, search through their website and see if things on there resonate with you.
2. How does the therapist view humans and change?
I know it sounds weird but I promise if you ask this you will figure out if they are going to mesh with your own views. Plus what if their views are not what you feel like you are needing, maybe it isn't an answer that gives you hope or makes you feel engaged in the work you choose to do together? Then we stay in the same rut we have been in.
3. What is the therapist general approach to clients?
Maybe you have done your own homework and you have your mind set on exposure treatment for a specific phobia or EMDR for trauma. Well not every therapist can do these things so ask them about this as well. Also you may just be someone who is naturally more analytical and constantly stuck in your own head so maybe you are looking for a therapist who can challenge you and get you out of this pattern. This is the question to ask that will help you figure out what sessions may look like working together.
4. How available is the therapist?
Okay okay, this isn't necessarily a deal breaker. I have taken time off work to get my hair done so why not do it for therapy? But therapy is a weekly commitment and seeing Marsha who only has Mondays at 9am available or the lunch hour on Tuesday may leave me feeling pretty emotionally depleted and exhausted for the rest of the workday. This is just something to consider, the lunch hour may work perfectly fine for some and not for others so figure out your personal preference.
5. Do you believe that you will work well with this therapist?
First let me start off by saying therapy is not a quick fix to anything. I really wish I was magical and could instantly fix anything but that isn't the case, so I am stuck just being human. The work you do in therapy is going to be hard, like real hard if you are getting to those secret deep hidden places. You need to be able to trust and work well with the therapist facilitating the process since it will take both of you working to make therapy work.
In conclusion, we all have our personal preferences and it is a disservice to yourself to stay stuck with someone you don't think can help you but also keep in mind having realistic expectations. My favorite example of this is a therapist I saw, we worked great together, I got a lot out of our time together and that is actually who motivated me to get into the field of counseling so clearly I am real biased here. Well since I was doing so well, enjoying it so much, I had a family member have false beliefs about this therapist and therapy in general then go and expected the same outcome I was getting since they were going to the same person. That did not happen, therapy is such a personal process, we as the client have to be ready for it and not all issues are alike either. So just remember if your coworker or best friend raves about their therapist you may not feel the same about the same exact therapist and it is okay, it is all about what you need, who you feel comfortable that matters.