How do I Choose a Therapist?
Who can help me with my anxiety? Which person on this long list of providers will be able to make a connection with my teenage son? Who will understand how difficult it is to live with nightmares about the rape I experienced? These might be some of the thoughts that are running through your mind as you look at a list of therapists on Psychology Today or perhaps a list of providers given to you by your school counselor or physician. Below are four things I encourage people to consider when choosing a mental health provider:
Research has shown that the therapeutic relationship is the most important predictor of a client’s success in therapy. Your therapist isn’t your best friend, but they should be someone you feel comfortable opening up to. I always offer potential clients a free initial consultation to see if we “click.” Another option is to talk to a potential therapist on the phone to help you get a feel for their personality and style. Pay attention to how you feel when you are talking. Do you feel like they’re listening to you? Is their personality overwhelming? Can you easily understand what they’re saying? Do you feel more comfortable as the first conversation progresses? It’s ok to talk to multiple people before you find someone you are comfortable with.
Methods & Experience
Feel free to ask a therapist about their training and experience with the issues you are facing. Do they use evidence based techniques? Have they done research about the topic? I will often talk to clients even during an initial consultation about the techniques I think may help them. The technical jargon (Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness, Prolonged Exposure, etc.) can be a bit overwhelming, but I try to at least let clients know that I plan to use treatments research has shown is helpful for others who have faced similar problems.
As fewer and fewer private practice therapists accept insurance, you may want to consider a therapist who is “Out of Network.” As an out of network provider, I’ve learned that many of my clients appreciate that their insurance company knows less about their treatment and our ability to base treatment decisions (How long do we meet? How long should you be in treatment?) on what they need instead of what they insurance company thinks they should need. However, if you stretch your finances too far therapy can end up adding additional stress. Call your insurance company to learn more about your insurance benefits prior to your first therapy appointment. Also consider using your Health Saving Account card to use pre-tax dollars to pay for therapy.
It is easier to get to therapy every week if the office is convenient. On the other hand, I’ve had clients drive hours each way for therapy so there may be times where all of the above factors make it worth it to drive out of your way. It is all a balancing act and an office that is easy to get to can certainly tip the scales in favor of one therapist over another.
Counseling in Columbia, MO
If you live in the Columbia, MO area and are interested in beginning counseling, please reach out and call Aspire Counseling at 573-328-2288. We will take the time to match you with a therapist who you will feel comfortable with and who will be a good fit by asking you questions about what concerns bring you to counseling, any potential schedule concerns, and what types of personalities you work well with. You are also welcome to read about each of our therapists individually by clicking on their name under the “Therapists” tab. Each of us has also recorded a little video to help you get a feel for our style and personality.