Perhaps the hardest part about deciding to participate in therapy is choosing who would be a good fit as your therapist. After all, you will most likely be sharing some of your most personal thoughts and concerns with this person so it’s understandable that you desire to be certain that they are a good fit! Yet, do you know what factors would contribute to this? Here are 5 questions you may want to consider in the midst of your search…
- How important is it that your therapist matches you in characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and gender presentation or sexual orientation? Research has been consistent in finding that one of the most important factors in whether or not therapy will be helpful is the quality of the relationship between client and therapist. There is often described a need of feeling known by your therapist that attributes to the level in which a client may feel more vulnerable in the therapeutic space. Therefore, if there are particular characteristics about a therapist that you believe will allow you to feel more comfortable, such as the previously listed categories, then by all means, search for that!
- What type of personality works best with you? Are you someone who needs to be gently nudged into making a change or would you prefer a more direct approach? Are you someone who needs lots of structure to help you work through issues or do you prefer processing an issue from multiple perspectives? You may be able to get a sense of this from therapists’ websites but it will also be important to simply ask the therapist as you are inquiring about counseling services.
- Are you looking for your religious or spiritual beliefs to be incorporated in therapy? If faith, religion, or spirituality is important to you and you feel like you want a strong faith component to your therapy then you may want to consider altering your search to consider this factor. When looking for faith-based therapy, make sure that the therapist has the appropriate credentials and obtains training in counseling.
- Do you want to use insurance benefits? Many health insurance plans provide mental health benefits. Therefore, if you are interested in using your insurance benefits your first step should be checking the website of your insurance company to find out which therapists in your area are covered within your insurance. Although, this does not mean that you cannot meet with a therapist that is not within your mental health benefits, you will simply have to pay a higher fee to this therapist than one within your mental health insurance plan. Therefore, if this is the case, make sure to check with your insurance carrier to see if you have out of network benefits as this alternative option may allow you to pay the therapist an out of pocket fee but later receive reimbursement.
- Are you clear about your therapeutic goals and what you would like to achieve in therapy? Undoubtedly, many individuals will enter therapy with fuzzy goals and loose ideas about what they would like to accomplish however, the clearer you can be about what you would like the outcome of therapy to be, the more equipped you are to choosing a therapist who can help you achieve this outcome.
Once you have considered these questions, you will be in an excellent position to begin researching a therapist to help you on your journey toward growth and healing. As previously mentioned, if you plan to use health insurance benefits to receive therapy then your carrier’s website will be a great place to start. Another helpful online directory is the Psychology Today Therapist Finder in addition to referencing your Primary Care Physician, OB/GYN or faith leader for additional recommendations of therapists in your community.