How to Choose a Therapist
Updated: May 30, 2020
You’ve been having difficulties going on in your life that have been impacting your mental health and have decided that it's time to seek the help of a mental health therapist. The question now becomes, how do I find a therapist, and more importantly how do I find a therapist who will be right for me? Below are some helpful tips to help you through this process.
TIP #1: The first step to finding a mental health therapist would be to contact your insurance provider and ask for a list of mental health therapists who are covered by your policy.
TIP #2: The second step would be to take the list that you received from your insurance provider and start researching the mental health therapists on the internet and through any social media pages that they may have. If they have a webpage or available social media pages, it can provide you with a little background information on the person which can help you with determining if the therapist might be a good fit to address your mental health needs.
TIP #3: Next you would begin calling your selected mental health therapists to see if they are accepting new clients. If they are accepting new clients, then you can make your appointment. If they are not accepting new clients you could inquire about a possible waiting list to see how long it might take to get accepted by the therapist.
So you’ve done your research, found a therapist who is contracted with your insurance provider, and have made your first appointment, now what? Now you will need to work on preparing for your first appointment.
The first appointment is the intake and assessment appointment. This appointment is designed to obtain information needed to establish a diagnosis and to create a treatment plan. This is also a good opportunity for you to get to know the mental health therapist and to ask questions. Here are my three tips on how to prepare for your first appointment:
TIP #1: Gather information regarding your developmental history (did you reach developmental milestones on time such as sitting, crawling, walking, and talking). Identify any major changes that may have taken place in your life as you were growing up. These could be things like moving, the death of a loved one, or a parent’s divorce. You will also want to gather as much information as you can regarding any mental health history with any family members.
TIP #2: Do the best you can to document what difficulties you have been experiencing that have led you to seek out a mental health therapist. This would include things like sleep disturbances, personal interactions, family interactions, body sensations, energy levels and work issues to name a few. You will basically want to try to describe a picture for the therapist that explains why you are there.
TIP #3: Take a moment to write out any questions that you have for your therapist and the therapy process. You will want to try to identify what it is that you would like to know and your expectations of therapy. Questions could include asking about the therapist’s history, how long are the sessions, how long you will need to continue therapy, and how often you will need to attend to name a few. This is your time to explore your relationship with your therapist and to get a better understanding of the therapy process.
Seeking out mental health therapy services can be an uncomfortable process. My goal is to try to help make this process a little more comfortable for you. I hope that you find these tips on finding a mental health therapist and preparing for your first therapy session helpful.