Finding a Therapist
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
With so many therapists it can be hard to choose. Here are a few strategies to help you decide which therapist might be the right fit.
It can feel overwhelming to find a therapist because there are so many options to choose from, but take a deep breath and follow the steps below. Remember, you can meet with as many therapists as you want in order to find one that feels like a good fit.
Think of the first session as a chance to see if you are a good fit together. The therapist will be doing the same thing. You both need to feel that you would be able to have a good working relationship in order for therapy to be effective.
Do Your Research
When looking for a therapist, read lots of bios and get a sense for what different therapists offer. Do you want someone who specializes in treating a certain condition, like trauma? Who uses a specific therapeutic technique or orientation, like CBT or psychoanalysis? Who has a certain demographic, someone of the same gender of who shares your cultural background? Who has specific credentials, like a psychologist versus a social worker? There are lots of therapists to choose from, so take your time reading about different providers and make a list of possible options.
Insurance or Self Pay?
If you want to use your insurance for sessions, you might want to start by using your insurance as a filter. Your insurance company should be able to give you a list of in-network providers to help narrow your search. If you're going to self-pay for therapy you'll have many more options, but it will probably cost more. Some people prefer self-pay, not only because it gives them more options of who to work with, but for privacy reasons. Paying privately for therapy means your insurance won't get any information on your treatment.
Location, Location... Location?
Finding a therapist that was a short commute from your work or home used to be a high priority, but with option of telehealth, you might not be limited by this. If you're willing to do virtual sessions you can widen your search (but keep in mind that most therapists have to practice within their state unless they are licensed in the state that you live in). If you want to meet with a therapist in person, looking for clinicians who have offices near your home/work will make it easier to get to sessions.
Finding the Right Fit
There is something called "goodness of fit" that describes a somewhat intangible sense of whether or not you have a good working relationship with your therapist. Some research has shown that a good fit with your therapist is more important than type of therapy they use in treatment. When you first meet with a therapist, check in with yourself and follow your gut instinct. Do you feel comfortable with this person? Do you think they understand you and are validating your experience? Can you imagine sharing more about yourself with them? Do you trust them? It might take a few sessions before you can really answer these questions, but if you're still feeling uncomfortable after meeting several times or something just doesn't feel right, it might be time to find a new therapist.
Where to Start
You can begin by using an online search engine. Psychology Today has a lengthy list of therapists and lets you filter by insurance, location, issues, and much more. You can also use Google, but it will take a little more searching on your part. Another great way to find a good therapist is by getting a direct referral from a doctor or friend/family member. Any therapist who is recommended to you by someone has already been "vetted" to some degree; they have already earned that other person's trust and recommendation. If you have friends who are therapists, they are a great resource! Ask them for referrals or for pointers on who else to ask for help.