So You Decided You Want Therapy; Now What?
I believe it takes a good dose of courage to recognize when you are in a tough spot. You may be overwhelmed, stuck, panicked, fearful, exhausted, hopeless or grieved and sometimes the hardest thing to do is muster the energy to figure out what to do next. Am I right? In addition, not only does it take courage and humility to find the right kind of support, but it takes even more to make contact with potential counselors. And the biggest act of all? – to actually show up to your appointments and commit to the process. It is an investment to take seriously; an investment that can help shift the trajectory of your circumstances – and ultimately your life, so let’s not take this lightly. But before you begin your journey, somehow you have to find a therapist, right? So do you ask your friends? Do you do a Google search? Do you hope that you will pass an advertisement that will magically show you who to call? Now that you’re ready to make the leap of faith, let me provide you with some helpful tips to alleviate some of the guesswork and help you make a more informed decision (hint: pay attention to #5):
If you’re comfortable, ask your closest friends and/or loved ones if they recommend a therapist for you. These are the people who know you the most and can determine whether they know a good therapist for you, your personality and your circumstances.
Google! Using the internet is a great way to get snapshots of local therapists in your area as well as allow you to search for specialties, such as marital counseling, adolescent therapy, blended families or women in ministry. After searching, choose 3 you would like to contact.
Ask your pastor. Most churches are networked with local therapists and can help point you to a group practice or an individual whom they trust.
Compile your list from friends and google and begin thinking about your initial questions that will help you begin to filter through them. You might want to know:
Are you taking new clients?
Do you offer free consultations? (see next section!)
Do you accept insurance?
If not, how does that work?
What hours do you have available?
Schedule a phone or in-person consult because the most important factor in a therapeutic relationship is trust. It matters whether you feel comfortable, heard and as though you can show up to your sessions. I mean, really show up – not just your physical self, but the beautifully broken and more vulnerable parts that are the ones longing for support, tools and relief. Make sense? If this is going to be a successful investment, you have to trust your therapist. The best way to get a feel for this is to have a free consultation. If they don’t offer one then I suggest either asking more directly for one or moving on to the next therapist on your list. Many therapists believe they can help everyone – and maybe they can, but I tend to be more sensitive to the experience and overall “feel” of someone and I know I don’t jive with everyone. You want to jive with your therapist.
After you talk with one or two (or however many) you are ready to make your decision. Pay attention to feeling resistant, vulnerable or the thoughts that say, “okay, that was enough work for now -and hey, I actually feel better!”. Sometimes taking action helps give us a sense of feeling better in the moment, but in cases like this it’s often short-lived, so stay committed. Make your first 4 appointments and bring all that are to each session.
Remember that recognizing you need help often isn’t easy. This kind of humility often stretches us, makes us feel vulnerable or somehow “not okay enough” to handle our problems on our own. And I want to encourage you that this last piece could not be further than the truth. Because it is exactly in our humility and vulnerability that beauty, creativity, healing and growth can take root. If you would like to know more schedule a free consultation with me to see if I feel like a good fit for you!