Finding a therapist can be intimidating, and when we don’t find the right one on the first go, it’s easy to think that therapy as a whole just isn’t for us. However, that cannot be further from the truth. Here are some strategies to help you find a therapist that will work for you.
What Kind of Therapy Are You Looking For?
One way to narrow down the therapists that will be effective in your mental health journey is to have an idea of the type of therapy you are looking for. If you know that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) hasn’t worked for you in the past, perhaps try other types of therapy like acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT).
It is a good idea to research different types of therapy before trying one out. Read about different types and narrow down which ones you think may work and which ones may not. Remember, what works for one person may not work for another person. Someone may love CBT, but you may find it not as effective as ACT.
You should also know whether or not you want to participate in in-person or online therapy. There is no wrong answer here. It is completely according to your personal preference. Since the pandemic, therapists have contributed more to online therapy, and some have transitioned back to in-person therapy, but others have kept themselves completely virtual. Do some research on which you think you would prefer or if you would like a mixture of both. That should narrow down the therapists in your area.
Having the First Session
The only way to find out if a therapist is right for you is to have a session with them. Meet with them and introduce yourself. Have them explain what their therapy style is like. Ask as many questions as you can. At the same time, ask yourself some internal questions:
- Is your therapist asking questions about you and seemingly enthusiastic about getting to know you and working with you?
- Are they staying engaged with you the whole time?
- Do they ask you about what you want out of therapy?
That last question is very important. If your therapist isn’t asking you what you need or want from therapy, they may not get the right idea of how to help you. You and your therapist need to work together to make sure they know exactly what your goals are.
If by the end of the first session, you aren’t 100% confident that this therapist will work, don’t give up just yet. It may take three to four sessions before you have a good idea of how this therapist will make you feel.
Green Flags for a Therapist
There are a few universal good signs for a therapist. You should be observant in your first few sessions with them to see if your therapist falls under these guidelines. A good therapist should create professional boundaries and respect your own. They should also:
Be a great listener:
Is your therapist actively listening and engaging with what you’re telling them?
Are they observant of your behavior enough to help you understand more about yourself?
Be easy to talk to:
Are you hesitant to open up?
Do you feel like the conversation flows between you two or does it feel choppy?
Is your therapist there when you need them?
Do they match your availability?
How long does it take them to respond to emails or texts?
Maintain a healthy healing environment:
Do you feel comfortable with them?
Are they respecting your identity and beliefs?
These are the bare minimum expectations for your therapist. More green flags will come about as you experience different therapies and therapists. You may like that they share their own experiences with you. Would you like materials and worksheets to put your experiences on paper? It takes talking to therapists to find out what your green flags are.
Red Flags for a Therapist
While there are universal green flags, there are also some universal red flags to watch out for. If you feel as though your therapist isn’t listening and engaging with you, consider finding someone new. Your time and effort are valuable, and if they aren’t respecting that, you are wasting your time.
Opening up to someone is hard. After a few sessions, if you don’t feel like you’ll ever open up to them and if you feel like you can’t trust them, that is a red flag. Hiding parts of your experience from your therapist will not be helpful in your mental health journey.
If your therapist crosses your boundaries after you state them clearly, you should not continue working with them. It may be more appropriate to stop all contact with them immediately. Similarly, if your therapist doesn’t respect your identity and belief system, you should stop seeing them.
Don’t let their status as the therapist intimidate you. If they are doing something unprofessional, it is important to stop contact with them and strongly consider reporting their behavior.
The First Try Shouldn’t Be Your Last
The first therapist you try out should never be your last. Therapy is ever-changing. It differs from person to person. Remember, therapists are people, and people are fallible. Just because one didn’t work for you doesn’t mean none will. There is the right therapist out there for everyone; you just have to do the work to find them.
Mindfuli understands how challenging finding the right therapist can be. With online resources and therapists at your disposal, you can find a reliable therapist at your fingertips 24/7. You don’t have to struggle alone, and you shouldn’t have the feeling that there isn’t a therapist that will understand you. Therapy takes work from both sides. As long as you do the research and try your best, you will find the one for you. Knowing what you want from therapy is the most important task for you to find someone effective and relatable for you. It’s time to take control of your mental health. Call us at (866) 973-4415 today to learn more.