6 Ways to Find the Right Therapist For You
Making the decision to see a therapist is often a big step for most people, but finding the right therapist can prove to be even harder than expected.
Research shows that having a good rapport with your therapist is vital to success, so it’s crucial to find one you are comfortable with.
So where do I start?
There are many styles of therapists and therapies available, but unfortunately it’s not always clear which options will be best suited to you and your specific situation.
Researching for a counsellor online can be tricky. It can also be overwhelming, given the number of therapists available. You can try searching therapist directories such as Good Therapy Australia, Natural Therapy Pages, Australia Counselling and/or Counselling Associations such as the Australian Counselling Association, Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), Australian Psychological Society (APS), or ask Google for a therapist in your local area. Most therapists will have an online profile which provides more information about them.
In order to make the process a little less stressful, I have provided some suggestions to consider when searching for the best therapist. Then you can fine tune your search.
1. Ask someone you trust
This can be a good place to start. Don’t be afraid to ask a family member, friend, co-worker, or a health professional for recommendations. You might be surprised just how many people have spoken with counsellors and/or know someone they could recommend to you.
2. Is age, gender, and cultural background important to you?
While it’s not the case for everyone, for some people the therapist’s age, gender, and cultural background are of great importance. Depending on your specific situation, you might feel that a therapist with a similar cultural background might be able to relate to you more or understand your cultural values at a deeper level.
Alternatively, you might have had negative experiences with a particular gender in the past, and might feel more comfortable speaking with the opposite gender.
So you need to decide whether these factors are a high priority for you.
3. Pick a location and availability that best suits you
Depending on the frequency of therapy required, finding a therapist that is located in an area that is easily accessible can be helpful and time-saving. It might be close to home or closer to your workplace, making it easy to attend appointments before or at the end of your work day.
The availability of the therapist is also important. We all have busy schedules nowadays, so finding out what appointment times are available in advance can determine whether a particular therapist will fit into your schedule.
The last thing you need when attending therapy is to feel rushed or flustered on arrival or departure due to time constraints. It is not unusual to leave therapy feeling somewhat vulnerable and emotional, so allowing a little extra time for some self-care afterwards is valuable.
4. Go with what you can afford, but not necessarily the cheapest
The cost of therapy is another concern for many people, which is understandable as committing to therapy can come at a significant cost.
While being affordable is important, selecting a counsellor based on the lowest fee alone doesn’t mean that they will be the right fit for you. Unless, of course, you are fortunate enough to find someone that ticks all of the boxes and still ends up being the lowest fee. Then that’s great! But otherwise during your selection process it’s worth being mindful that fee structure higher or lower- doesn’t mean better quality professional services.
Fees can vary depending on the individual therapist and their services available. Discussing the costs involved and being informed about rebates available to you is essential prior to the start of counselling.
5. To what extent do qualifications matter?
When it comes to qualifications, it can be helpful to have some understanding of the therapist’s training, especially if you are looking for a specific style of therapy.
However, just because someone has a long list of qualifications and/or accomplishments, doesn’t mean that they’ll be the right fit for you. As mentioned previously, research has found that a successful therapeutic relationship is built upon empathy, warmth, acceptance, and understanding (aka rapport). In other words, you should balance your decision on how you feel when you speak to or meet the therapist, as well as their qualifications.
Another key point to consider is that you may find a therapist that seems okay, but is not necessarily qualified to provide the counselling you need. Again, balance is the key.
6. How do you feel after speaking with the therapist?
Once you have narrowed down your search to a few therapists, it can be helpful to contact each of them and have a brief chat over the phone.
Many therapists now offer a FREE phone consultation (usually around 15 minutes) to discuss your specific situation before committing to the initial appointment. You can then use this opportunity to ask about their expertise, education, experience, style, fees, cancellation policies, or whatever else might be important to you when finding the right therapist.
During the phone call, you can usually get an idea of whether you feel comfortable or not, and whether the therapist sounds like someone you could talk with and open up to as well.
What do I do if my current therapist is not working out for me?
I hear many stories of clients staying with their therapists for weeks, months, and even years longer than they should have. Usually, it’s because they think they have to stay with their current therapist for various reasons.
If you’re not feeling comfortable with your therapist, or feel that you’re not on the same page, then the counselling is not going to be much help to you. You can either share your concerns with your therapist and hope that the situation improves, or end your therapy and look for someone new.
Remember, therapy is about what YOU need, so finding a therapist who is understanding, supportive, and willing to work with YOU in a way that is most beneficial towards reaching YOUR goals is what’s most important.
Do you need Counselling Support?
If you need counselling support, contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how she can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
Kylie Lepri is a registered Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter here.