Last week I covered the basics of types of therapy and therapists. So maybe you’ve figured out what might be best for you, or at least you feel a little more informed, and you want to pick a therapist. But holy crap! You look at your insurance list and there are 150 names within a 10-mile radius of you and you have no information to go on. What do you do? Well, for starters, I would recommend against picking someone based off your insurance list. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if possible, get a recommendation from a friend who you trust. I’ve seen people on the other LadyBlog requesting therapist recommendations in their town, and that’s certainly a forum thread we could start here if there’s interest. I am a firm believer in word-of-mouth recommendations for therapists. Your friend can tell you what they like and don’t like about their therapist and that’s information that you’re not going to get from a list of names.
But since getting a few names from friends isn’t always an option (or their therapist doesn’t accept your insurance), the next best would be to get a recommendation from your doctor. To be honest, I have only been hit or miss with therapy recommendations from doctors. Most insurance providers require a PCP referral for a psychiatrist, but not usually for a psychologist or social worker. I would encourage you to ask for more than one name so that you have some options. After you have a list of names, google them. Most therapists have a webpage now and that will give you an idea of what they feel their specialization are and they should provide a little outline of how they like to work. Pick one that feels right to you and set up an initial appointment.
When I moved to a new city for graduate school I was at a loss for how to find a good therapist. I didn’t like the clinic my school referred me to, but I didn’t know how to find a better one. I was able to use a connection I had to a woman who had been a social worker in my city and knew some people to contact and she set me up with a really great therapist. This can take some work, which can be difficult if you have depression or anxiety that is impeding your functioning. If you have any support system at all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re at a point where I was, it can feel daunting and you might want to give up on your search for a therapist. But if you really think therapy is right for you, it’s worth it to put in the work to find a good one.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try out different therapists if the first one doesn’t click for you. I have seen so many people waste time on therapists they don’t like or don’t feel are helping. It’s your mental health and therapy is a gift you’re giving to yourself to Live Your Best Life, to steal from Oprah. Don’t compromise on this one!
Any more questions or tips about finding a therapist? Let me know in the comments! Next week I’ll cover what a typical first session might look like.