Therapy can be like dating; just like in a romantic relationship, you want to find the right fit for you! Therapy is no different! When finding the right therapist, it’s important to look at why you want to start therapy, how you plan to pay for therapy, what location (in-person vs. virtual) will work best for you, and so much more! In today’s post, I am diving right in and spilling all the tea to save you time and money. So, grab a pen and a piece of paper (or hit copy and paste) and get ready to find the perfect therapist for you!
It’s about to be a brand new year (hello 2023)! You may consider leveling up and starting therapy. Congrats! With the pandemic, more people than ever have joined online therapy or in-person therapy. As therapy becomes more normalized, more people have openly discussed the benefits of it. If you’re looking to heal your inner child, create new, healthy patterns for yourself, or develop better coping mechanisms, you must find the right therapist for you! Rather than sitting through a ton of 15-minute meetings with different therapists, we’re cutting right to the chase today. I am sharing how to find the right therapist for YOU so that you can save your time and hard-earned money! Let’s dive right in! Here are some tips to help you get started!
Finding The Right Therapist Without Wasting Your Money
First, start with your why!
Why do you want to go to therapy? It is so important to have an initial reason or why you are seeking help. Your “why” will help determine the type of therapist you need. Answer this question: What are the main areas of life I struggle with?
It could be relationships, sex, career, comparison, marriage, perfectionism, family issues, trauma, self-esteem, etc.! You can find a therapist in that area of speciality based on your answers. Think about specific situations or thoughts stemming from the abovementioned areas. For example, perhaps you’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety after a breakup. You thought you would be over it by now. Or maybe you’re struggling to cope with the death of a loved one, or you don’t feel comfortable in your career choices. My hope for you is that you can identify some reasons or issues in your life that could work through in therapy. Now let’s move on!
How are you paying for this?
When considering therapy, oftentimes, people narrow down a list of a few therapists and then pick a person they click with most. However, many need to remember to factor in cost! You don’t want to go broke trying to better yourself. On the other hand, some of us are on a budget! So before we get ahead of ourselves, figure out how you will pay for therapy. Find an amount that works for your budget. If you have insurance, even better! You can find a therapist who takes your insurance, which will likely be the most cost-effective option. There are two common routes people take to pay for therapy.
#1 – Insurance Pay
Call your insurance company to find out if you have mental health benefits! Also, ask your insurance provider if they have a website where you can search for an in-network provider. You can also have them send you a list of therapists in your area. If you want to learn more about what questions to ask your insurance, I have a podcast episode that mentions this. Click HERE.
#2 – Self-Pay or Private Pay
If you have a budget that allows you to self-pay, then you have no restrictions on who you can seek help from. That’s one of the beautiful things about self-pay; no insurance company tells you how many sessions you can have or anything like that. I do dive into more options to find affordable therapy on EP 5 of my podcast, linked here.
Now that you know why you are going to therapy and how you will pay for it, we can dive into how to narrow down your therapist.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Location is the most crucial criterion to consider when choosing a therapist. When it’s not a hassle to get to your therapist due to traffic or long distance, it makes it so much easier to be in a good head space during a session. For example, imagine having a therapy session, but you were stuck in traffic for an hour to get to the session. Not only will you be upset, but you won’t enter your session in the mindset to start your healing.
Another thing to consider when choosing a therapist is whether they offer an online/remote option, often called tele-health counseling. Online sessions make therapy so much more convenient because your session can take place in the comfort of your home. In addition, you can see if a therapist provides both in-office and tele-health so, on days when you can’t get to your therapist’s office, you can still partake in your session at home.
Expertise and Therapeutic Approach
Based on the reasons you’ve determined above on why you are going to therapy, we can narrow down therapists based on their expertise and therapeutic approach. If you are looking for someone who specializes in anxiety, there you go! You can look at providers who have this as their expertise.
Different therapists approach the therapeutic relationship in different ways. Some therapists are very active during the session, while others take a more passive or non-directive role. It’s important to ask yourself whether the therapist’s approach fits you and your needs. Doing a simple Google search such as “types of therapy for anxiety” will generate some options which can help narrow down a therapist who uses this approach you are searching for.
Where to start your search for the right therapist:
It can be really overwhelming when you don’t know where to start searching for the right therapist. Here are my top places I recommend! Start here:
- Psychology Today (filter by zip code, insurance, gender, type of therapy, etc. to narrow down your search based on Steps 1-4. When “shopping around,” it is perfectly acceptable to ask to see a therapist based on a shared identity, like race or gender, and it is common to see this kind of information listed on therapists’ websites as well.
- Google (Example of what to type into Google: “Female Dallas Therapist who deals with anxiety”
- Instagram/ Tiktok (Search hashtags)
- Your Insurance Provider’s Website
Other directories I recommend are: Therapy for Black Girls, Latinx Therapy, and Therapy Den. Personally I do not recommend Better Help.
Pick three to call for a free consult.
Most counselors provide a free consult to ensure it’s the right fit for you and for them. Yes, them! Sometimes therapists may feel they are not the right fit for you. Don’t take it personally! We want to ensure you are with someone who understands how to walk you through your issues. After a brief call, we may refer you to someone we feel would be a better fit. I challenge you to pick three to meet with and then write down your top choice after having a short conversation with them. Here is how you can start the conversation using the big WHY we discussed in Step 1.
“Hi, My name is _______,
I have been struggling with XYZ, and I am trying to find someone to help me with this. I saw your website and feel like you could be the right fit. Can you tell me about your therapy approach and how you may be able to help with the issue I just mentioned?”
Start with your top choice (the one you felt the most comfortable talking to on the phone), and book an initial session. Try this therapist for at least three sessions to see if it’s the right fit. The first session is always to get to know you and the issues you face. Keep in mind that we only touch the surface of the issues, so you must stick around for sessions two and three.
Finally, how (and when?) do you know if it’s a good match???
There’s no hard and fast rule about how quickly you’ll determine whether you and your therapist are a good match, but it’s common to have a gut feeling within the first couple of sessions. That doesn’t mean your instinct is always right, though. If you doubt whether or not you like your therapist, it’s worthwhile to consider why. During the initial sessions with your therapist, you should ask for a summary of what they think you should be working on. Then, make sure they are working in alignment with your needs.
I wish you the best of luck finding the right therapist! If you are located in Dallas, consider joining my waitlist. If you are outside of Dallas and still have questions, be sure to check out my Youtube video on this, podcast episode , or shoot me DM over on Instagram, and I will do my best to answer it! Drop in the comments below how you found your therapist OR if you plan to follow this method to find one in 2023!