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  • Writer's pictureElla Davies, LMFT

I Want To Start Therapy -- Where To Begin? Tips for How To Find a Therapist and Start Your Therapy Journey

Updated: May 10

You may have made the decision to start therapy, but it can still be overwhelming figuring out where to start.  You may find lots of clinicians online with generic profiles that all sound the same – how many different ways are there to say “I’m non-judgmental and supportive?”.  Or, you may be looking for a therapist who has a certain specialty, works in a specific location, or accepts your insurance.  You also may not know what type of therapist would be a good fit for you!  Here are a few good tips to get started:

 


A female therapist speaking to a male client in a chair

Think about the primary thing you want to work on in therapy.  That may be something like, “I want to not have panic attacks at work”; “I want to work through some trauma I experienced in my childhood”; “I want to feel more secure in my relationship”; or “I want to be more calm and less angry when I’m parenting”.  There may be multiple areas you want to address, but try to identify the 1-3 things that are most impacting you or that feel most important. 

 

When you’ve identified your primary goals, try to find a therapist who works with your specific concerns.  There are a few different ways you can do this.  You can look on Psychology Today or other therapist directory sites for therapists who indicate they work with your specific needs.  You can also do a google search for something like, “best therapy for panic attacks” or parenting, or trauma – it will likely bring up some specific techniques such as EMDR.  Then, you can do a similar search for “EMDR therapists” or similar.  You can also use Psychology Today to filter for other preferences, such as a specific specialty, a location, in person vs online therapy, accepting a certain insurance, etc.

 

You can also try asking your primary care physician, friends or family members, or other people in your life who may have knowledge of different providers. 

 

When you are looking at online profiles or websites, look for what experience and expertise the provider lists.  Does it seem to match what you are looking for?  Does the profile seem up to date and current?  You also want to be sure that the provider lists a current therapy license.  This will often be a string of letters such as LMFT, LCSW, PsyD, PhD, AMFT, APCC, or similar.  These indicate slightly different education focuses and levels of experience.  As long as there is a current license, the specific degree type doesn’t matter too much for most folks.  If you do have questions, feel free to reach out and we can help you decipher the alphabet soup!

 

 Most importantly, does the profile or website seem to resonate with you?  Studies have shown that the most important variable for therapy to be effective is the relationship you have with your provider.  The safer, more comfortable, and trusting the relationship, the more success you will have at meeting your goals. 

 

When you have found a few different therapists who seem like they might be a good fit, go ahead and send them a brief message or give them a call.  Provide information regarding your insurance if you want to use insurance, your availability/schedule, and your primary goals for therapy so they can know if they would be a good fit for you.  You may need to reach out to multiple people to find someone who has current availability and meets your needs.   You can also reach out to us at TBH and we can help match you either to one of our clinicians, or another provider who meets your needs.

 

Th initial phone call is what I like to call the “vibe check” stage.  Does the person feel warm and friendly over the phone?  Do you feel comfortable sharing with them?  Do they seem to have expertise in your particular concerns?  It can be helpful to talk to a couple different therapists to hear different styles and approaches. 

 

While you are on the phone, there are some questions that it can be important to ask the provider.  These might include:


·      What experience do you have working with my concerns?

·      Do you have any specialized training or certifications such as EMDR or DBT?

·      What is your therapeutic style?

·     What is your fee?  Do you take my insurance?  Do you offer a “superbill”, or out of network insurance billing? 

·      Do you offer in person or telehealth/video sessions? Where is your office located?

 

When you find someone you like, schedule an initial appointment.  The first appointment will generally be an intake where they review things like your confidentiality, their policies & procedures, the therapy process in general, and get some basic history from you regarding what you’ve been struggling with, and how your life is overall.  The first session often doesn’t feel like a “typical” therapy session as there may be more structured protocols in place.  It can take some time to get into the heart of what you want to work on, so don’t give up if it seems you are not diving right in!

 

If you have any questions regarding how to find a good therapist, we are happy to help.  Our clinicians are well equipped to handle a variety of issues, and we can also help you find a referral to another clinician if you need a specialty that we don’t currently offer.  Please reach out, regardless of what stage of looking for a provider you are at.  We look forward to connecting with you!

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