Finding the Right Therapist for You

Finding the Right Therapist for You

Finding the Right Therapist for You

You decided its time to talk to someone and now you have to find that person. You might start with googling “therapist okc”, asking some friends, or getting names from you insurance company. But how do you choose? 

In my first phone conversation with people, they often say that they don’t know what to do or what to ask. If I were looking for a therapist or helping someone find a therapist, here are some things that I would do.

First, know that not all therapists work the same. If you need a doctor for a sinus infection, your treatment should be pretty standard no matter what doctor you chose. If you need a therapist for anxiety, your treatment could be very different depending on whom you chose. 

Generally, your mental health providers include:

  • psychiatrists – medical doctors who prescribe medication and most likely not do talk-therapy
  • psychologists – PhDs who focus on assessment and diagnosis of mental health issues and may provide some direct treatment or more likely will refer you to different treatment options
  • therapists/counselors – master’s level clinicians with differing areas of training and treatment approaches 
    • LMFT – licensed marriage and family therapist
    • LPC – licensed professional counselor
    • LCSW – licensed clinician social worker
    • LADC – licensed drug and alcohol counselor
Now some questions to ask a potential therapist on the phone or in your first session: 
  • Do you have experience treating this issue?
  • What is your typical approach to this problem?
  • How long would you estimate treatment to last?
  • Are you comfortable working with specific issues of my faith, culture, etc.?
  • Ask any question that you think may be important. 
These answers will hopefully help you start to determine if a therapist is a good fit for you. If on the phone or after one or two sessions, you are not feeling comfortable or something isn’t working well, raise the issue with your therapist. A good therapist will be very open to hearing your concerns and work to correct the issue. If the problem isn’t remedied, don’t stop therapy all together but feel free to find another therapist. 

Research on therapy has repeatedly shown that one of the biggest factors to positive change is the client-therapist relationship. How well you fit with your therapist is critical. When it works, you  feel comfortable, you believe that your therapist understands and knows how to help, and you can see positive changes happening or on the horizon. Don’t settle for anything less. 


**Side note for parents**. 
For teenagers: Often parents are in the situation of “dragging” a teenager to counseling. This is fine initially. Talk with your therapist about their approach to this situation. Often teens don’t want to come initially but can buy in after a few sessions. If the struggle continues, you might consider if it is a good fit or if there is more productive work you can do with the therapist to help your teen. 

For children. Therapy with children is very different from working with adults. To ensure that your child has a good experience with therapy choose someone who utilizes play approaches (i.e. child-centered play, story telling, games, puppets, drawing) as the main mode of treatment instead of just sitting and talking.
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