Finding the right therapist can be difficult for people. That can be for a multitude of reasons. Such as, if a person feels they would best be supported by a person that shared their same religious or cultural background or a person that understands the specific struggle of something like addiction or an eating disorder. That coupled with the fact that some areas have no choices and other areas have too many choices. The research has clearly shown that when a person feels connected to their therapist they feel better. Therapeutic interventions have a higher rate of success if the therapeutic relationship or rapport is strong. So how do you sift through the therapists in your area and find the right fit for you?
1. Use a Therapist directory
The majority of the therapists I know have a Psychology Today profile, but there are several others like InclusiveTherapists, TherapyDen, or GoodTherapy. You can even break it down by theoretical orientation, specialties, and insurance panels. Normally the therapist will provide a headshot and their website.
2. Check out their internet presence
Not every therapist is going to have a strong internet presence, and that is fine. But it is often comforting to have an idea of how that person is before even making that first call. More and more therapists are utilizing social media like Instagram or have a podcast. This can be a great way to learn if you share a fandom before getting started.
3. Make use of their free consultation
Most of my therapist friends will offer potential clients a free consultation over the phone. So do not be afraid to call them. Just don’t be surprised if they don’t answer on the first try. Many therapists have their numbers connected to their cell phones and it can be challenging with the amount of scam calls. Leave a message with your name, number, and that you are interested in getting to know them. Then make sure you are on the lookout for a similar number. Also remember to make sure you can receive voicemails. It is fairly common for therapists to attempt to call back, but are unable to leave a voicemail and so it looks like they were not interested in receiving new clients when that is not always the case.
4. Ask them questions about themselves
Some therapists may not be open to talking about themselves. There are some therapists that believe in the “blank slate” model of therapy, in which a therapist stays neutral and then what the client projects onto them says a lot about the client's inner processes. I personally do not ascribe to that modality. If you want a therapist like this then when you ask questions that could be personal they will turn it back on you. “What is your age?” “What does my age bring up for you?” That kind of interaction. Now the therapist should not give you their life story. They should not go into the details of their parents' divorce and how their kid just got kicked out of school for vaping in the bathroom. But they could give a general tip about how they are a child of divorce or how they have teenagers of their own and so they understand the struggles.
5. Get to know their interests
If you want to know if your therapist is a nerd or at least understands nerd culture, just ask them. Ask them if they like nerd related topics. It could be that they love D&D or that they have no idea what a “Pokemon” is, but you won't know unless you ask them. The main thing is to find a therapist that is genuinely willing to learn, especially since many therapists these days tend to be older and less into technology.
Those are my tips to finding a therapist that is right for you. It takes a lot of research before you are able to find the person that fits best for you. Do not be afraid to reach out to therapists. Ask them what they do, but also how they are as a person. Not all will be open to sharing with you, and that’s fine. If you wanted a more traditional therapist then that would be perfect. If you want something different then it is important to keep searching. I wish you all the best in finding the person that is the right fit for you.
Authored by Cassidy Russell LMFT
Cassidy Russell a proud host of Therapy for Nerds and has a private practice with the focus on utilizing pop culture to help teens.