One common question I hear is: how do I find a therapist?
Maybe you’ve finally decided to get some counseling, but you just don’t know where to start.
Here are some simple steps you can follow:
1. What kind of therapist should I see?
- Psychiatrist – a medical doctor who specializes in psychiatric illness. Their main function is to diagnose and prescribe medicine. Once this is complete, they often refer you to a psychologist or LPC for counseling.
- Psychologist – typically has a doctorate degree in psychology, which includes extensive training in human psychology, behavior, and evaluation. They provide counseling, including a range of treatment options, and can also perform psychological testing and evaluations.
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) – a counselor who has a Masters degree in Counseling, passed an exam, and completed 3,000 hours of supervised counseling work, in order to receive the LPC credentials.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – social workers specialize in case management, helping clients connect to local resources with the goal of improving overall quality of life. A social worker with LCSW credentials has a specialty in mental health and can do some counseling.
2. How do I find someone in my area?
Option 1: Seek referrals from your primary care physician, as well as family members and friends who see a counselor
Option 2: Use Psychology Today’s therapist search page:
A. Go to this website: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/
B. Enter your zip code
C. You can filter results by insurance carrier, specialty, language, faith tradition, etc.
D. Review the results and make a short list of therapists in which you might be interested
E. In reading each therapist’s description, look for professionalism and treatment philosophy
3. Call them and do an interview (yes, that’s allowed!):
- How long have they been a counselor?
- What credentials / license do they have?
- What is their counseling philosophy?
- Do they have any specialties?
- How much do they charge and do they take your insurance?
- If you like the therapist but can’t afford him or her, ask for a referral. Some might even let you send them your short list from step 2 above, and they can then give you feed back on those therapists you’re interested in.
4. After your first meeting with a therapist, ask yourself some questions:
- How comfortable did you feel with the therapist? You shouldn’t expect to feel absolutely comfortable because, by nature, therapy is challenging, especially the first session. However, you should feel comfortable enough with a therapist that you’re willing to share your deep anxieties and emotional issues.
- Did the therapist treat you with respect and dignity? If not, then that therapist might not be a good fit. You want someone who is going to help your self-perception, not hurt it.
- Did the therapist truly listen and ask questions? You’re paying a lot of money for that appointment and you’re investing time into it. You want someone who will listen to you and seek to help you improve.
5. Select a therapist, set some goals, and stick with it!
Based on your research, interviews, and initial experiences, select a therapist. Work with that individual and set some goals. Then I’d encourage you to stick with it! Don’t give up on seeing improvement! You owe it to yourself!