10 Tips for Finding the Right Therapist for You
By Hela Baer, LMSW, E-RYT, ESMHL
1. Ask your primary care provider about any recommendations they may have. Many primary care providers have experience working with practices or therapists in your area – so it’s worth checking in!
2. Check your insurance plan directory. If you have health insurance, you may have in-network or out-of-network behavioral health benefits. It can always be helpful to look through your insurance company’s provider directory for therapists who are listed as in-network and learn more about possible reimbursement for out-of-network services.
3. Ask a trusted friend or family member. The people in your life may have experience finding and working with therapists. In which case, they may have some helpful tips and recommendations for therapists and the search process.
4. Explore what resources are available to you. Colleges and universities often have counseling centers, human resources departments may have employee assistance programs and referrals, and your community may have local organizations that provide a range of therapy services. We love the Open Path Collective and the Loveland Foundation – two resources that can help you access affordable therapy!
5. Explore online databases for mental health providers. Websites like Psychology Today have a database of mental health providers, and you can narrow down your search to focus on a particular specialty, background, location, etc. You can also explore online therapy options like Talkspace or Betterhelp – these apps offer video, phone calls, and text options with therapists across the country.
6. Think about what kind of support you are looking for from a therapist. This includes any challenges you’ve been dealing with (like anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, and so on) as well as the type of therapy you feel comfortable with (individual therapy, group therapy, in-person services, telehealth options, etc.). Knowing more about your needs and goals will be helpful in identifying services that are a good fit for you!
7. Research different approaches to therapy (also referred to as modalities). There are many different approaches to therapy (such as play therapy, art therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and so on) – and you might resonate with one more than the other. Here’s a great list of approaches and what they could look like in practice: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/types-of-therapy.
8. Know that your relationship with your therapist is a central part of therapy. While it can be helpful to pick a therapist with a specific specialization or approach, ultimately, your relationship matters the most. It is important to choose therapist who makes you feel comfortable, seen, and heard – therapy should be a meaningful, supportive, and safe experience for you! You may also want to consider your therapist’s identity (race, gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, etc.) and the ways in which that may impact your relationship and comfort level in doing challenging work together.
9. Schedule a phone consultation with any potential therapists. Many therapists will offer a 15-20 minute phone consultation in which you can get to know each other, discuss logistics (like costs, insurance, scheduling), and decide if you are a good fit. Here are some helpful questions you could ask during that phone call:
What are your areas of focus/specialties?
What is your approach to therapy?
What is your availability/schedule like?
How much do sessions cost and do you accept insurance?
10. Notice how you feel when interacting with a potential therapist. Do you feel like they are listening to you and responding with empathy? Are they interrupting you or minimizing your concerns? Trust your gut reactions when talking to a potential therapist – if you don’t feel comfortable, heard, or respected, it is absolutely okay to look for somebody else!