I remember one of my first encounters with a therapist. I was going through a major depressive episode and struggling to “fake life”. I made an appointment with someone based upon a recommendation and simply took their word that they were good. When the moment finally came, I walked into her office that day in tears and she began to ask the standard background questions. Then it went downhill quickly. The moment the general question was done, it felt like I was talking to no one.
In the midst of my session, the therapist opened a can of Diet Coke got up from her chair and started looking out the window. I had never seen anything like it in my life. She proceeded to talk to me with her back turned to me. I could not and did not take her seriously as she was not taking my situation seriously either, Needless to say, I hated that session and I didn’t like her too much either.
I contacted the referral and informed them of what had taken place and they were shocked. However, once I calmed down I realized my HUGE mistake. I failed to do my research. A little research would have provided me with some foresight and prevented me from scheduling an appointment with her. If I had called the office she worked for prior to making the appointment and asked a few questions, I would have learned that she was scheduled to leave the practice soon.
Although she was probably an excellent therapist, in my eyes since she was preparing to leave she had already “left the practice” mentally before she did physically. I would have never scheduled an appointment with a therapist who was leaving their practice. Now not all offices will provide this information but it does not hurt to ask: Are you accepting new long term clients? How long have you been practicing? How long have you been with your current office? All of these questions would have provided me with some good insight.
Okay, so what are some of the things you want to research and how to get started? Well, use the list you just made as your guide. Using the example from #1 “I want to work on irrational beliefs that contribute to my low esteem”, you can research therapists who work with depression. Once you find a therapist or practice that does if a website is available TAKE THE TIME TO READ THE STAFF BIOS.
Staff bios, when available, offer a wealth of information about a potential therapist. You can discover their educational background, their licensure, their area of specialization, and/or years in the field. If the information is not available then call and ask. If the therapist, agency, or practice does appear to be giving you the run around with the information THEN FIND ANOTHER PLACE TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE!!!
Finding a good therapist takes time and energy. Don’t get me wrong there are some awesome men and women in the counseling field out there. You just have to find the right one that fits you. Think of it like buying a new pair of shoes. You have to find the right style, size, color and fit before you are happy. The same can apply to the therapist hunt. Don’t get discourage the right person is out there for you. Just remember to put in the work on the front end.