Therapy is a collaborative process, so finding the right match is critical. After you find someone, keep in mind that therapy is work and sometimes can be painful. However, it also can be rewarding and life changing.
What are the steps for choosing a therapist?
1. See your primary care physician to rule out a medical cause of your problems. Many physical disorders can mimic psychological ones.
2. After you know your problems are not caused by a medical condition, find out what the mental health coverage is under your insurance policy or through Medicaid/Medicare.
3. Get two or three referrals before making an appointment. Specify age, sex, race, or religious background if those characteristics are important to you.
4. Call to find out about appointment availability, location, and fees. Find out if they take your insurance or if they charge by income.
5. Make sure the therapist has experience helping people whose problems are similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to ask about experience.
6. If you are satisfied with the answers, make an appointment.
7. During your first visit, describe those feelings and problems that led you to seek help. Find out how the therapist reacts and what options you are given for treatment. Do you feel comfortable with your choices?
8. Be sure the psychotherapist does not take a "cookie cutter" approach to your treatment – different psychotherapies and medications are tailored to meet specific needs. You are an individual and your therapist must show that perspective.
9. After your initial visit, take some time to explore how you felt about the therapist. Is there a connection? Do you feel comfortable?
10. If everything meets your approval, schedule your next appointment. If not, go back to the list you gathered in Step 3 and start over again.