Ready to Start Therapy? Follow These Tips for Choosing a Therapist!
If you’re looking for advice and tips for choosing a therapist, you’re in good company. Making the choice to start therapy can feel like a relief, but it can also feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this resource to help you get started on your therapy journey.
The purpose of this article is to guide you through the process of finding the right therapist. You’ll find information on different types of therapy and practical tips for starting therapy for the first time.
Tips for Choosing a Therapist
At the end of the day, therapy will only prove beneficial if the approach is right for you, your therapist’s expertise aligns with your needs, your therapist is qualified, and they take your insurance or are otherwise affordable.
Choose the Therapy Approach That Works For You
Before choosing a therapist, take some time to research the different therapy modalities and learn which ones resonate with you and seem in alignment with your particular circumstances. Consider, for example:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on how thoughts influence behavior and mood
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to help with emotional regulation and distress tolerance
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), which uses bilateral stimulation to help process trauma
- Humanistic therapy, which concentrates on self-discovery and finding meaning in your life
- Psychodynamic therapy, which explores how your past influences your present
Consider the Therapist’s Specialization
It’s important to find a therapist you can relate to and who has the expertise to address your issues and concerns. For example, if you’re dealing with trauma, anxiety, depression, or issues in your marriage or other relationships, you’ll want to make sure the therapist you choose specializes in the areas important to you.
Make Sure the Therapist is Qualified
It’s essential to make sure your therapist has the educational background, credentials, and experience to offer meaningful help while doing no harm. Look for a licensed professional, such as a:
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
- A licensed clinical psychologist (PhD or PsyD)
- A board-certified psychiatrist (MD)
Be sure the professional you choose freely offers their licensing credentials and is eligible to provide services to patients in your state.
Seek Recommendations and Read Reviews
Sometimes, the best way to find a good therapist is to ask trusted friends and family members if they know anyone they’d recommend. You can also talk to your healthcare providers, such as your primary care physician, for a referral. You can also conduct an internet search, researching potential therapists on online platforms such as Psychology Today. When doing online research, look for testimonials from actual current and former patients.
Verify Affordability, Including Insurance Coverage
If you’re depending on insurance to cover your therapy, check with your insurance provider to verify your policy coverage. You’ll want to make sure that the therapist you are considering takes your insurance. Even if visits are covered by insurance, the number of visits you are allotted may be capped, and you may be required to pay a copay for each visit.
If you’re paying out of pocket, find out what each session costs. Some therapists offer sliding scales for uninsured or underinsured patients.
Tips for Starting Therapy For the First Time
As you begin your mental health journey, consider these three tips for starting therapy:
- Take time to understand the therapeutic process. Talk to your therapist about what to expect.
- Manage your expectations. Therapy is a process that can take a while before you start feeling its benefits.
- Be honest and upfront. Commit to being open and honest with your therapist as the two of you build a rapport and establish a foundation for growth and healing.
Of course, these tips for starting therapy are not exhaustive. The most important advice we can give you is to remember to be gentle with yourself as you embrace your healing journey.
Why Is Starting Therapy So Hard?
If you’re like many people, you may be having trouble actually taking that leap into starting therapy. You may be afraid you’ll be labeled or judged. You may be unsure if therapy will help or be worried that it will be too painful or take too long.
It’s important to acknowledge these fears. They are natural and shared by many others. In 2022 alone, almost 25% of the U.S. population saw a therapist, many for the first time. Like you, many were hesitant at first, but they took the leap. You can, too.
Start Prioritizing Your Mental Health Today
Therapy is self-care; you have every reason to be proud of yourself for exploring your options and having the courage to prioritize your mental health and happiness. As you move forward, look for resources that offer access to qualified therapists and mental and behavioral health services and programs that address your needs.