Therapy can be awkward and uncomfortable. As a therapist in training as well as someone who has been to therapy multiple times with multiple therapists before, I know this all too well. Doing work on yourself and being in therapy is change. Change is often extremely difficult and not always pleasant. However, when you find the right therapist for you, it doesn’t have to be unbearably awkward and uncomfortable. This does not mean that doing work will be easy and that you will never be uncomfortable. However, with the right therapist, it should feel less scary and easier to start doing that work. So, in order to help you find the right therapist for you, I have made a list of tips for individuals that are looking for a therapist.
1. Know your own preferences. Some people only want a male therapist, others only a female, etc.. Take time to reflect for yourself on if you have any therapist deal-breakers before you try to find one.
2. Look at their company’s website. If the therapist is working for a private practice or an agency, it will most likely have a website. The website will be able to tell you about their practice and the things that are important to them as a company. For example, if you want a practice that specializes in a certain population or certain diagnosis then you can often find out if they do that on their website.
3. Look at the therapist’s bio. Sometimes the therapist will have an individual page on a site like psychology today, other times they just have a bio on the website for their practice. But reading the therapist’s bio is a great way to get a general sense about who they are, what they specialize in, and if you think you’d be a good fit.
4. Create a list of questions you have for your therapist. If you want to know what their licensure level is, what it means, who they normally see, or what their stance is on something, you are always more than welcome to ask. While your therapist is not going to divulge everything about themselves to you, if it is important for you to know something about your therapist let them know! The therapist should want you to feel safe and comfortable and should work with you through any questions you have to make you feel safe.
5. Don’t be afraid to say if something isn’t working. If you’ve been to therapy in the past and there was something you hated about it, let the therapist know! If there was something you loved, you can also let them know! If there is something your current therapist is doing that you don’t like then let them know. Therapy is your space where you get to process and be safe and therapists want to know how you are feeling about it.
6. Don’t be afraid to change therapists if needed. Remember that just because you have seen a therapist X number of times that does not mean that you have to keep seeing them. If you think the vibes are off and that things are not a good fit after trying, then that’s okay! Much like in real life, sometimes you don’t fit or click with coworkers or other people but there are plenty others and you get to find the people you do click with. It’s important to feel like you fit with your therapist because if you don’t, it will be very hard to get work done and your therapist understands this!
Overall, the most important thing in looking for a therapist (or any kind of doctor or helping professional) that works for you is being able to listen to yourself and advocate for yourself because you are the expert on you!