Finding the right therapist
Updated: Jan 12, 2018
Searching for the right therapist is sort of like dating.
To find The One, you need to date around, “swipe” your way through options and get a feel for who’s out there. In my own hunt, I first searched for therapists online, which led me to feel even more confused than when I began.
Lost and without any leads, I asked my best friend for a recommendation. It felt safe to seek help from a professional who came with character references — the same way I’d scan mutual friends on Facebook before agreeing to a date.
1. Ask friends and family
Ask friends who are in therapy if they like their therapist. If they do, find out what it is they like about them and ask your friends to ask their therapists for referral lists. Determine the type of professional you need. If you’re suffering from ailments like panic attacks, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder, look for a clinical psychologist or social worker rather than a psychiatrist, said Dr. David D. Burns, adjunct clinical professor emeritus at the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.
If none of your friends are in therapy or if they tell you that they don't like their therapist and how they keep going just because they don't want to hurt the therapist's feelings, it's best to get a referral elsewhere. That said, you don't want a therapist who is convenient—you want a therapist who is good. Good and convenient do not often go hand in hand. I could have a therapist that is only five minutes from my house, but I Imtasik is worth the hour drive. And, I find the drive home to be an important time to process my feelings.
Many institutes have a service in which a clinic director will do an intake and determine what therapist in the community might be a good fit for you. That is a wonderful way to find a therapist if you don't have a referral source.