Finding the Perfect Therapist
Are you interested in seeking a therapist, despite not being ready to take the leap? Finding a therapist can be hard especially when you are the first one in your family to take your mental health to a professional, if you're trying to break the stigma in your community or if you were told that you might need to seek therapy. In this blog, we will begin with breaking down how to search for a therapist followed up with questions you should ask, consultation talk and what a therapy session might look like.
Your search may begin with therapist in Austin, TX. In actuality, you would want to be more specific in your search as it will help you land closer to the therapist of your dreams. You would first need to sit down with yourself and figure out what your toughest battles are, depression, impulse spending, alcohol/drug use, marital issues, relationship issues, trauma, life transitions etc. Most people begin their search with general counseling, but truth is you have to more specific. Allow that to guide you in your search. Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with searching for a therapist of a specific cultural or racial background but just remember that just because the therapist looks like you, doesn’t mean they are the one for you. Next up, look for a therapist with the educational/training modalities you may be interested in. Meaning if you are specifically looking for someone certified in EMDR or play therapy. This phase might feel like homework but it's necessary to purposeful in your mental health journey.
Once you have found a few therapists, reach out to them to schedule a consultation. The consultation is typically on the phone and is usually free for those inquiring about counseling. The consultation is your time to ask all of the important questions you need to ask. Consultations typically cover hours, location, specialty, your expression or reason for seeking therapy and time to get to know the therapist a bit more. Never schedule an appointment without going through a consultation. The consultation is typically informal but additional details will be covered including costs, if they accept insurance, information about intake documents, availability and your needs. The consultation is all for you!
I have a consultation scheduled, now what? First, be mindful that you do not have to commit to a therapist during the consultation. It is okay to let a therapist know that you will reach back out to them after checking with other therapists or after thinking about it. Remember, once your have your first session, you will begin the therapy relationship and are liable for any fees incurred during that session. It’s like going to the doctor, if you see the therapist you will have to pay. Below is a list of questions that you may want to ask during the consultation to support you with your decision making.
Questions to Ask
1. What types of issues do you work with?
2. What work/internship experience have you had? This might include additional information about the competence of the therapist you are seeking.
3. How long does the session last?
4. Do you offer psychological testing?
5. What insurance companies do you accept and when are you able to verify insurance and copay information for counseling or do you offer a superbill for me to be reimbursed by my insurance?
6. Do you accept EAP and if so what information from me is needed?
7. What are your in-office hours?
8. Do you offer virtual counseling?
9. What is your cancellation policy?
10. Do you offer religious based counseling?
11. What are the directions and access points to the office?
12. Be sure to ask if the outside area of the office is well lit, especially if you plan to have late appointments.
Now that you have had your consultation, get ready for the ride! Remember that this is your process and use this time to discuss everything you may have not been able to talk about. Whether the conversation is about sex, cheating on your spouse, racial issues… literally everything. Therapy is meant to be a safe space. Be mindful that if you are in a small town, it is easy to end up with the same therapist as someone. If this happens, please let your therapist know so that you can discuss whether or not it will be a conflict of interest. This might happen if some of your issues are surrounding some of the individuals the therapist currently sees.
Lastly, let’s talk about what therapy looks like. So many people struggle with anxiety surrounding taking their first step at therapy. Let’s first start by saying therapy is like talking to a friend that doesn’t know anyone in your world and who does not judge you. Therapy might include the therapist asking leading questions to help you self-actualize, process difficult situations and confronting you in a therapeutic manner about underlying issues or motives behind your behaviors or thoughts. Therapy includes homework, therapy includes work. Therapy may make you better one session and might trigger you the next session. Therapy may require you to dig deep, re-read situations and support you with changing your thought process or behaviors. It's like having nail shop or barbershop talk with a processing aspect, minus the extra set of eyes and ears. As serious as therapy gets, remember it is important to your growth and you pay them to listen to you without judgement!
*Additional Information- It is okay to ask to be referred out to another therapist or end the counseling if you begin the therapy process and does not feel like it is a good fit.