Finding a therapist that aligns with you can be difficult. We've all heard stories of someone beginning their therapy journey, only to be discouraged when their therapist isn't the right fit. Here are some tips for finding the best therapist (for you):
Tip #1: Try, Try, Try Again
Sometimes, the first therapist you see will not be the right fit. Before committing to a therapist, try a few different options. This can be accomplished by creating a list of at least three therapists that you're interested in potentially working with, and attending an initial consultation (or session) with each. Pick the therapist the finds the balance between challenging you and comforting you.
Tip #2: Use Your Resources
There are various sources for finding a therapist, and most are right at your fingertips! Websites such as: Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us), Therapy for Black Girls (https://therapyforblackgirls.com/) , and Good Therapy (https://www.goodtherapy.org/) are helpful directories to search for mental health practitioners to match your needs. Additionally, many health care providers have directories for in-network therapists (if it is covered by your plan).
Tip #3: Social Media for Mental Health
Thousands of mental health providers utilize social media to market themselves or share resources for free. Although this does not replace therapy, social media is a great tool to gain awareness regarding mental health and find potential therapists to work with.
Tip #4: Use Your Imagination
Imagine yourself in a therapy session. Who do you see looking back at you? Imagine who you would feel comfortable being vulnerable with. Consider gender, LGBTQ+, cultural background, religion or spirituality, approach, and temperament. Would you feel more comfortable with someone whose approach is direct or someone gentler? Do you prefer to focus on feelings or thoughts? Creating a clear picture of what you look for (or don't want) in a therapist can help you find the right fit.
Tip #5: Be Open Minded
Therapy is hard work! Sometimes a therapist may suggest something that you don't find helpful or that triggers difficult emotions within you. That doesn't necessarily mean they're not a good fit for you! Try to be open minded about what therapy may look and feel like for you...
Tip #6: Honesty is the Best Policy
...but don't be afraid to advocate for yourself! If a suggestion or approach isn't helpful for you, communicate with your therapist! Therapy is the perfect place to be honest about what you need, how you feel, and what you think. You get out of therapy what you put into it. Show up authentically.
Tip #7: Ask Questions
Consultations and intake sessions are intended to evaluate whether or not you and a therapist are a good fit for each other. Ask questions about what sessions may look like, costs, policies, and the therapist's approach and philosophies. Every therapist is different!
Tip #8: Network
Ask for referrals! If you come across a therapist that you'd like to work with, but they're not accepting new clients, request a referral. Therapists often have large networks or may work within a group practice. If one therapist is not the right fit for you, they may know another clinician that is!
Bonus Tip: Patience is a Virtue!
It takes time to find the right therapist and build a relationship with them. Sometimes, we want therapy to instantly make us feel better. But that's not always reality. Therapy is a journey, and it is not linear. Remember to be patient with yourself.