Finding a therapist is a daunting task. I mean, after all, you will be telling this man or woman very personal information. You may talk about your mother. You may talk about your partner. You may talk about your hopes and dreams. It’s a lot.
I have had a lot of therapists – nearly 10. Yeah. I know what I am talking about. The number is really indicative of my moves around the country, not just me switching around willy nilly.
Here is my advice:
1. Choose a gender
Often times women are more open to talking to other women, though not always. I have friends who prefer the male perspective. But let’s just say that one day, months into therapy, you want to talk about your sex life – who would you be most comfortable with? If it doesn’t matter, cool. You’ve got a whole lot more therapists to choose from.
2. Don’t be fooled by education
I’ve had therapists that held a doctorate in psychology. I’ve seen licensed social workers. I believe the best of the best have come from years of experience. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my briefs times with therapists near my own age, it was like talking to a wise, objective girlfriend, but, for example, my last therapist has been caring for her clients for over 40 years. She’s in her 60s. And honestly, she has been one of the best therapists I have ever had. She has heard it all. Seen it all. I could open up. She didn’t have the highest degree in psychology, but she had so much experience. Even now, while I am in limbo with my move, she calls me every Wednesday night for a quick chat to check up on me until I find a new therapist. A-mazing.
3. Give them a chance, actually 3 chances
You don’t tell your new acquaintances all your dirty secrets upon meeting them. Don’t think you have to do that with a therapist on your first visit. Remember, you are in charge. You are checking them out. There are a lot of therapists out there to choose from. I suggest giving your “new therapist” three visits to determine if you click. Sometimes you will know upon your first visit that they are all wrong, I’ve done that before. But sharing your inner thoughts with a stranger takes some getting used to so give it a little time.
4. Be honest
The most important thing in a therapeutic relationship is honesty. The therapist can’t help you figure your shit out if you don’t talk openly and honestly. If this is something you aren’t used to, it will feel weird in the beginning. Talking honestly about my ex while in the relationship with him with my therapist wasn’t always easy, after all, our relationship was private, but she gave me her objective opinion. You know what? It helped. And when it all fell apart, she was there to catch me during the free fall.
5. If it is’t working, move on
Like I’ve said, there are A LOT of therapists out there. You have a choice. Don’t drag yourself to therapy sessions with ill feelings. See it as a time to work stuff out. And if you can’t work it out with your current therapist, please see above rules.
Therapy has saved my life, even in the past six months, and I mean that literally. Therapy is as important to your mental well-being as your prescribed meds. Give it a go. What do you have to lose besides a little breath? 🙂
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net