How to Find a Therapist

While sitting in a comfortable waiting room, female doctor listens to her patient about mental health problems. Doctor is on a sofa, wearing a lanyard and holding a clipboard.
While sitting in a comfortable waiting room, female doctor listens to her patient about mental health problems. Doctor is on a sofa, wearing a lanyard and holding a clipboard.

Feelings of depression, anxiety, angst, and any other unsettling thoughts or issues are hard to work through without the support of family and friends, but sometimes even those closest to us just don’t know what to say or how to help. Sometimes, it is best to speak with a third party who also happens to be an educated expert on human behavior – a therapist. Choosing a person to talk to about innermost feelings is something to be taken seriously; if you aren’t comfortable with this person then you won’t open up fully and get the help you need. Here are some tips from a therapist and patient on how to choose the right therapist for you.

Shop Online:
In the digital age, it is possible to buy anything online from groceries and clothes to mortgages and cars. A therapist is no different. A good source when online shopping is Psychology Today’s Therapist Finder that you can access here. Take note of their photos as you scroll through the list. You’re looking for someone who you could easily see yourself sitting next to and chatting with. If you get an uneasy feeling, trust your gut and keep scrolling.
Other than the photo, pay attention to how the therapist sells themselves. You want to read stories about their work and their patient philosophy more than you need to know their outside hobbies or about their brand new office.

Gender:
There is no right or wrong answer regarding the gender preference of a therapist; it is just an innate thing that an individual will prefer a male or a female to discuss certain issues. Think about which sex you would be most comfortable with and look for therapists who identify as such. Again, you want to make sure you are comfortable enough to share everything and really move past the hurdle you are facing.

Give them a Call:
So their picture looks warm and inviting, they tout a patient philosophy that you love, and you think this is the one. Time to give them a call. Have a preliminary set of questions ready to go before you dial that number. You’ll want to ask about his or her specialty to see if it matches your needs. You don’t want to go to someone specializing in depression if you have anxiety and panic attacks. Just make sure their specialty matches your needs. It is also a good idea to ask if they are licensed and maybe triple check that fact yourself just to be sure.
At the end of the call, after you’ve gotten all of the information you wanted, think about how he or she made you feel. Were you relaxed and able to talk freely, or did you feel nervous and clammed up? How you felt will answer whether or not you want to move forward with this therapist. If you don’t have an immediate reaction, schedule the first appointment and give them more time to truly show you their style. At the end of an hour, you should have a bigger reaction than at the end of a five to ten-minute phone call.