Millions of Americans are realizing the profound benefits therapy can have on their well-being. People seek therapy for depression, anxiety, relationship problems, or even daily maintenance of a hectic modern life. Whether you’re feeling stagnant with your current counselor or considering entering therapy for the first time, here are some things to keep in mind to get find a therapist who will help you nourish and cultivate your mental health.
The core of the counseling process is the relationship between therapist and client. Not only do you want your therapist to have proper credentials, but you must ensure that you get along on a personal level. This allows you to be more honest and open with your counselor. When looking for a therapist, initially approach your search as if you’re finding a new doctor. What school did they go to? Where are they licensed? How many years of experience in practice do they have? Do they have any particular expertise or professional interests that may be able to help you?
After making a list of therapists that meet your criteria, make some phone calls. Most counselors will be willing to have a conversation or two on the phone with you before you commit to making an appointment. These phone calls can serve two purposes: fleshing out details (confirming credentials, verifying insurance, getting directions to the office), and getting a feel for one another. You will likely be asked what has brought you to seek therapy, how you’re currently feeling, and how you found this particular therapist. You may be asked short questions about your mental health history. These initial phone consultations also allow you and the therapist to both get a sense of if you may be a good fit, personality-wise. You should be able get a first impression of the prospective therapist–it can be helpful to listen to your gut about this. If you are happy with their professional credentials, and feel like you are interested in meeting the therapist, go ahead and make an appointment.
You will then proceed to meeting the prospective therapist in-person and further getting to know each other. It is important to note that you may, after several sessions, decide that this therapist is not for you. If you feel like you and your therapist may not be a good fit, bring this up to your counselor–this is their job, after all–and discuss it. They may agree with you. Even if they do not, you have the option to end the therapeutic relationship at any time. Your mental health is the priority here.
Hopefully, though, you will begin to develop a healthy and beneficial relationship with your new therapist. After all, you’ve done your research and due diligence. Remember, all partnerships take time to blossom–even professional ones. Therapy can be difficult, and having a comfortable relationship with your mental health professional is extremely important to your progress. If you follow the above tips, you ensure that your new relationship sets foot on the most positive path possible.