Whether you’re seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, for a specific problem or to improve your general mental wellbeing, choosing the right therapist is an important step on your journey. While the number and types of therapists can be overwhelming, keeping these four simple things in mind can help make the process of choosing a therapist easier and less stressful.
One: Understand Your Goals
Therapists and psychologists almost always have specializations in specific areas, and claiming that they can “cure it all” can actually be a red flag, indicating that they are more concerned with finding as many clients as possible than with understanding their individual clients’ needs. Before you begin your search for the right therapist, it is essential that you understand your goals.
Do you suspect that you may have depression or an anxiety disorder? Then find a psychiatrist who, unlike psychologists and therapists, is able to prescribe the right medication to manage your condition. Is your relationship the cause of your lack of mental wellbeing? Consider finding someone who specializes in couple’s therapy or relationship counselling. Are you seeking help for your child or teenager? Then find a therapist who specializes in the problems and needs of younger people.
Even if you don’t know what your specific goals are at first, narrowing down your scope is an essential first step. Most people only seek psychotherapy when they are already in crisis, so seeking a therapist before you are in crisis will help build a stronger foundation and lead to a more peaceful, healthy frame of mind for your life going forward. If you’re still struggling to narrow your focus, larger groups of therapists working in the same practice can make switching focus easier if you don’t know where to start. For example, a psychologist in Alpharetta, GA, Alan Behrman & Associates, has four psychologists and psychotherapists on staff who can help treat a larger variety of issues, from general life coaching to Borderline Personality Disorder, than any one of them could focus on alone.
Two: Find Someone Who Fits Your Lifestyle
Narrowing down your goals won’t necessarily make the right therapist for you crystal clear. There are a number of factors beyond simple specialization that you will want to keep in mind when choosing your therapist.
For example, most therapists will want to meet with you weekly, especially at the beginning. Are you able to find someone who fits with your goals in your area? If not, are you willing to drive further to get the care you deserve, or would you rather take advantage of the increasingly popular e-therapy options becoming available?
These questions may seem boring, but there’s nothing worse than establishing a rapport with your therapist and then having to stop treatment because continuing became impractical and incompatible with your lifestyle. Considering these factors early on will save you stress down the line.
Three: Understand Their Methods
Different therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists will have different methods of treatment, and no one method is right for every person. Understanding your therapist’s methods will go a long way to helping you understand whether those methods are working for you.
The most common and most well-known form of therapy is “talk therapy,” but that isn’t the only kind of therapy there is. According to Alan Behrman, a psychologist in Alpharetta, GA, “while active listening is an important skill for a therapist, listening can only go so far.” He continues by noting that a good therapist will “help you make the necessary changes in your life by giving you techniques, tools, skills, and guidance to achieve your goals.”
Some people are able to make progress towards their goals through talk therapy alone. Others prefer to have concrete assignments to do between each appointment. The majority of people will make the most progress using a combination of talk therapy and other techniques. Unfortunately, not every therapist will be able to provide the exact support to help you live the best version of your life, which is why this next and final point is so important.
Four: Don’t be Afraid to Start Again
If you and your therapist just aren’t clicking or if you feel your care needs a different focus, you shouldn’t be afraid to start again with a different therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
It can be disheartening when you realize that the therapist you’ve been working with, sometimes for many sessions, isn’t the right one for you. It can feel like a step backwards, but having the courage to start again with another therapist who is better suited for your unique needs is really a step forwards in your treatment and in your journey towards better mental health. Changing therapists is incredibly common, and the therapist you are working with will often be happy to provide you with the names of others in their profession who they feel would better suit your treatment needs.
Beginning the process of finding a therapist can be intimidating at first, but keeping these four simple things in mind will help to keep your goals in focus and make sure that your mental wellbeing is the best that it can be.