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Finding a New Therapist is Like Dating

finding a new therapistRegular readers will be aware that earlier this year my previous therapist left his practice and therefore couldn’t see me anymore. (see “When Your Therapist Breaks Up With You”)

So I embarked on a search for a new therapist.  I suppose one looks for similar qualities in a therapist that you look for in a perspective mate: someone who listens, is understanding and compassionate, offers thoughtful feedback…

And so I began my search.  I had an “intake” appointment with a female therapist in the hospital practice where I had seen Roger.  Mary listened to my comments on why I had initially gone to see Roger and the ensuing progress I had made.  At the end of our appointment she said to me, “I could help you, but I think you should see a male therapist.”

I wasn’t offended that she was referring me to a man, but the tone of her statement, “I could help you,” gave me the impression that I was an uninteresting person and that she didn’t want to waste her time with me.  So she said she would do some research for me and refer me to a couple of male therapists.

Plus, we entered into this whole discussion about where that person should be – private practice or affiliated with the hospital.  I wanted to see a social worker affiliated with the hospital so they could easily communicate with my primary care doctor on the prescription of medication.  It didn’t make any sense to me to have someone who wasn’t working with me on a regular basis prescribing me medications.  Well, let’s just say that’s not how it works at this hospital.

I’ve been on the same antidepressant for over two years.  Lately I’ve been feeling more depressed and so I wanted to consult with someone on a medication change.  So now I have to go see a “psycho-pharmacologist” – someone I will talk with for fifty minutes and then they will prescribe me a mind-altering substance.  My apologies to those of you in the profession who may read this, but I’m a bit skeptical that the person who is prescribing meds for me is not working with me on a regular basis to see/hear how I’m making/or not making progress. More to come on that!

Mary’s “research” led me to Stan.  His office is in the downtown area and my first appointment was on one of the hottest days of the year.  By the time I arrived I was drowning in sweat.  Then I couldn’t find the buzzer to his office.   Finally the mail-carrier let me in the building.  I filled out some paperwork and finally got settled in his office.

Where do you start with a new therapist?  At least when I started with Roger there was immediate trauma in my past that I could point to and say – that’s why I’m here (even though underneath it was the real reason I was there).  I was sitting in Stan’s office and I felt like saying, “It may not seem on the surface that I need a therapist, but I’m really messed up.”

I’ve been feeling more depressed in recent months.  My old anxieties are rising to the surface and I’m always waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.”  I’ve been convinced for the past two weeks that I’m going to be fired from all of my jobs.  Just driving myself crazy.

I spent the majority of the first appointment trying to recap my previous three years in therapy and all the emotional trauma from my childhood.  It was a bit uncomfortable.  After nearly three years of monthly appointments with Roger, I was used to the rhythm we had developed, how he shared his council and how he helped me to unravel my subconscious thoughts.  I talked, Stan listened.

He was very open, saying “Let’s have a couple of appointments and see how it goes.  If you don’t think I’m helping you, feel free to tell me and vice-versa.”  I was pleasantly surprised that he said that.  We made a second appointment for a month later.

I went into that next appointment in quite a state.  I was traveling to a conference for work the next day and I was anxious about that, plus I was just in a frame of mind where I felt like my world was collapsing in around me and that I would be fired from all my jobs.

I continued to fill him in on my life, sharing with him my most recent stories and what happened during my evening out with Kimberly (see blog “Worst Night Ever”).  Honestly I felt like I was boring him.  He basically restated a couple of the things that I said to him, but there were no dramatic insights or connections.  Am I expecting too much too soon?

We’ve made a third appointment and I’m hoping things get better.  He’s trying to get to know my problems and patterns of behavior.  At our first meeting he suggested that I’m might try group therapy.  I’ve always been skeptical about the group thing.  I’m not always comfortable in front of a group of people when I have to “be myself.”  I’m great at acting or giving speeches, because then I’m playing a “role” or acting a character.  I would rather share my experiences through a blog where feedback is anonymous.  I don’t want a group of people to see how “crazy” or “not crazy” I am – because they would be reflecting it right back at me!  Yikes.  Talk about a reality check.

Finding a New Therapist is Like Dating

Kate Nickerson

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APA Reference
Nickerson, K. (2010). Finding a New Therapist is Like Dating. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 25 Oct 2010
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Oct 2010
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