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Finding the right therapist is no walk in the park. There are so many matters to consider; from the therapist’s education, reputation and specialization to your personal preferences in terms of age, gender and so forth. You should also ask yourself: do I mind seeing a therapist online? If not, will I be able to find a psychologist near me, or will I need to devote a lot of time commuting for sessions? In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about choosing the right therapist.
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How Do I Start Looking?
What’s my first step when searching for a psychologist near me? Before we cover some pointers to help you on your journey, let’s explore some of the different therapy options that you have at your disposal.
Traditional therapy takes place face-to-face in your therapist’s office. Will you be expected to lie down on a coach? Traditional psychoanalysis – a form of therapy popularized by Freud in the late 1880s – had the client lying down on a couch with the therapist seated behind. While psychoanalysts still practice today, you’re more likely to find yourself seated across from your therapist.
Today, the pertinent question – how to find a psychologist near me – is no longer as relevant as it once was. Why? Thanks to the internet, you can quite easily consult with a licensed therapist living on the opposite end of the earth (time-zone differences permitting, of course)!
Online therapy is a relatively new phenomenon, but several studies have already supported its efficacy. Furthermore, the American Psychological Association acknowledges that online therapy “has a lot of promise”, offering certain benefits above and beyond traditional therapy, particularly in terms of affordability and accessibility.
Therapy sessions can also take place via a text or live chat format. This is an attractive option for people who are not entirely comfortable with face-to-face interactions; or simply for people who appreciate the convenience of being able get support quickly and intermittently. More research is needed to determine how effective this approach is.
Your health insurance company is likely to have a list of affiliated practitioners which you can request. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that those practitioners will be suitable for your needs. If your health insurance includes mental health coverage, however, these practitioners are likely to represent an affordable option for you.
How Do I Assess Potential Therapists?
There are several things that you can do to assess your therapist before they are given the opportunity to assess and treat you.
1. A Good Psychologist is Not Always the Most Convenient Psychologist
You may be thinking, “I need a psychologist near me”. While convenience is key, you may find a lack of available or appropriately trained therapists in your area. What if you require a specialist who’s located several hours away? When choosing a therapist, convenience and suitability must both be considered – and unfortunately, sometimes these two are at odds and a sacrifice needs to be made.
2. Are They Selling Themselves or Talking About Their Work?
Most therapists have online profiles that provide information about their practice. This can also give you a sense of their personality, priorities, and ethics. Ultimately, psychologists need to make a living as well. But does their profile emphasize their accolades and accomplishments, rather than the actual work that they do? Does their profile communicate to you that they truly care about their work, or do you simply get a sense that they’re trying to hook you in as a customer?
3. Check Their Picture and Go With Your Gut
You may not have any pre-conceived notions about the sort of therapist that you want – young or old, male or female – but sometimes just looking at a picture can give you a sense of whether you’d feel comfortable talking to them. While it’s wise not to judge a book by its cover, we’re advising you to focus not so much on what your prospective therapist looks like, but on how they choose to present themselves; and how that makes you feel.
4. Talk to Them
Many therapists will speak on the phone to prospective clients to answer any pertinent questions that they may have. However, keep in mind that this is not the time to delve deeply into your emotional health. Rather, ask practical questions and use this interaction to give you a sense of their style of relating. Do they sound friendly and welcoming, or curt and judgmental? Is this the sort of person that you’d like to open up to? Do they make you want to engage their services, or are you left feeling awkward and ill at ease?
5. Check Their License
It’s not unreasonable to ask your therapist for their licensing information. You need to be able to fully trust the person that you will ultimately share your inner world with. By checking that your therapist is appropriately licensed, you can rest assured that this psychologist is appropriately qualified and accountable to specified ethical standards.
6. Notice How You Feel Talking to Them
Whether you’ve attended your first session or you’re talking to them on the phone to make a booking, it’s important to note how you feel during these interactions. Why? Therapy is most effective when you’re able, to be honest, open and authentic. To do this, you need to feel comfortable talking to them. Of course, moments of awkwardness are natural and inevitable; but on the whole, your therapist should leave you feeling relaxed and safe.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind
I’ve identified a psychologist near me that I want to try speaking with – do I have to stick them? It’s not uncommon to “shop around” – having one or two trial sessions with various psychologists before settling for the one that you feel most comfortable with. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this and in fact, it’s advisable to make a change if your therapist isn’t meeting your needs.
If you have already had several sessions and established a connection, however, it’s recommended that you tell your therapist that you want to make a change before going ahead and doing so. They may even be able to recommend a colleague who is better suited to your needs.
What Do I Do to Set Up the First Session?
Your therapist might work as part of a practice, in which case your first point of contact might be with a receptionist. A private practitioner might require you to contact them directly. Whether you make a phone call or initiate online correspondence, make it clear that you’re looking to set up a session and allow yourself to be directed from there.
What Happens in the First Session?
The initial session provides you with an opportunity to describe what exactly has brought you to therapy. You’re also likely to be asked about your hopes and expectations for the process, so that you can collaboratively start to formulate treatment goals.
Expect your therapist to ask a lot of questions – about your past, your family, your relationships, your medical history, your earliest memories and your overall lifestyle and mental health. While at times some of these questions may seem irrelevant, a therapist uses the first (and sometimes second and third) session to gather as much information about you as they can, so that they can make an informed decision about your needs.
The first session is often referred to as an “assessment session”. However, this is not just a matter of your therapist assessing you-you should also be assessing them.
Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist
I’ve located a psychologist near me, now what should I ask them?
Where Did They Go To School?
Did they train at a reputable institution? You don’t need an Ivy League education to be a good therapist, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a reputable academic background. In any case, however, if your psychologist is licensed to practice, this means that their training is formally recognized as being of adequate standards.
What is Their Specialty?
Some psychologists choose to focus on specialized areas of practice, garnering additional training and experience in these fields. There are many possible types of specialization: child psychology, addictions work, group therapy, LGBTQI+ issues, neuropsychology, industrial psychology, educational psychology, and forensic work. A more extensive list of possible specialty areas is provided here. Check with your therapist about their specialty before proceeding with therapy.
Have They Worked With Issues Like Yours Before?
When looking at their online profile or speaking to them on the phone, be sure to ask if they have experience in managing the concern that you are seeking help for. Especially if you’re struggling with an uncommon issue or disorder, it can be reassuring to know that your psychologist has experience in this area.
Have They Ever Been in Therapy Themselves?
While some training programs require trainees to undergo their own personal therapy, this is not always the case. Amazingly, some people practice as mental health practitioners without ever having had an experience of what it feels like to be the client! In our opinion, it’s vital for a therapist to have had their own therapy at some point during their career.
Therapy allows a person to expand on their ability to self-reflect and to start addressing their own emotional issues – yes, therapists have issues as well! What’s important, however, is that a therapist is aware of their own emotional “blind spots”. This way, they can ensure that their own issues don’t intrude on or interfere with the client’s therapeutic process. If your prospective therapist has never been in therapy, this may be a red flag.
What is Their Preferred Modality?
The modality – or style of therapy – that your psychologist uses will depend on their training and personal preferences, as well as the issue which is being targeted in therapy. There are hundreds of different modalities. One of the most popular is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is a practical approach that aims to change dysfunctional thinking patterns. Another option is Psychodynamic Therapy, which focuses on the impact of unconscious emotions and behaviors. Ask your therapist what modality they employ and how this would apply to your situation.
Find a Psychologist Now
Where can I find a good psychologist near me? ThriveTalk allows people to focus solely on the important part of that question – finding the right therapist for their needs. ThriveTalk is an online mental health platform that boasts an extensive range of highly qualified and fully licensed therapists. With affordable rates and a large team of therapists to choose from, you’re more likely to find someone whose skills, schedule and personality matches yours. Thanks to online therapy, it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice quality for convenience. So, if you’re looking for a therapist that is both good and conveniently accessible, click here to get started with our straightforward sign-up process.
Take the Plunge
Finding a therapist is not as simple as dialing up a plumber or ordering take-out for dinner. The wide range of psychologists, specialists, therapy mediums and treatment options out there can be daunting. If you’ve ever gone shopping for a new cell phone or laptop without knowing exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll understand that sense of being overwhelmed by choice.
In this article, we hope to have helped you to develop a better sense of what you’re looking for. The intention is that this will help you refine your search. But it’s also possible to become paralyzed, avoiding seeking help because you’re overthinking the process. While it’s good to do your research, it’s not always possible to know beforehand whether you’ve chosen the right therapist for your needs. Sometimes, you simply need to take the plunge by booking the session and allowing the process to begin.