Starting the search is overwhelming!
The decision to go to therapy is no small thing. Finding a therapist is hard enough, never mind finding a therapist that is the right fit for you. Maybe you’ve heard it’s important to find someone who is the right fit for you but you’re not sure what that looks like. You may have had negative experiences in the past and want to be sure things are different this time. And, odds are if you are taking the step to choose a therapist, you have some stress on your mind. This can be an overwhelming process. I often get calls at my Portland, Maine therapy practice from potential clients who feel like counseling is the next step for them but they don’t know what questions to ask or what to look for. Here are a few things to consider when searching for a therapist who is the right fit for you and some questions to ask when you get them on the phone.
Channel your inner Nancy Drew and do some research.
Network online and in person: Get online and ask the people you trust. Do a google search or check Psychologytoday.com to see who is in your area. Ask your doctor or other wellness professional. Ask your family or friends. It can be a healing and helpful action to talk to the people you know and trust about things you’re struggling with. Many times when we are vulnerable and open up about these things we find our loved ones have dealt with similar struggles. They may work with or know therapists in the area that they’ve had good experiences with. Ask for recommendations.
Location: Where does it make sense for you to see a counselor? Near home or work? Not too close for privacy? Think about what feels most comfortable to you.
Gender: Do you feel you could connect better with a man or woman? This is a personal choice. Consider what would make you most comfortable.
Style and Personality: call and talk to some professionals in your area. It’s completely appropriate to ask a therapist about the approach they use. Is the therapist directive and action-oriented or are they more hands off? Do you want to set very specific goals or be more general in what you cover in your sessions? Is there a specific treatment approach you are interested in like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to examine how your thinking impacts how you feel? You can ask a therapist about their style and how it might be a good match for your needs and goals.
Experience: Have you been to therapy before? What helped? What wasn’t helpful? If you haven’t, what do you imagine it’ll be like? You can talk to a potential therapist about your expectations or questions.
Tips for talking to potential therapists before you book an appointment: Think about what your top priorities are. If you can, identify your goals for counseling and what you’d like to work on. How would you know if things were better or if progress was made? Ask the therapist how they might address your concern and what it might look like to work together.
What to do if you start with someone and it’s not a good fit? Talk to the therapist about it. We are trained to be objective and not to take the needs of our clients personally. A therapist should be able to discuss with you what’s not working and either make necessary changes or help you find a new referral.
I work with women who are depressed, anxious, overcoming difficult family situations and so much more at Nikki Wetherell Counseling, LLC. I want the clients I work with to have the best set up for success even if that means working with another professional or changing my approach to a problem. I tell the women I work with that we are a team and we work together but ultimately, it’s their time and money in therapy and it’s about what you need. Therapy is like a massage, the therapist doesn’t know what feels or and what isn’t right for you. We are pretty tuned in but can’t know what you don’t share with us. Just like you’ve got to let your massage therapist know what areas to focus on and what amount of pressure you prefer, you can talk to your therapist about how to make your experience the best possible one for you. Find out more about working with me here.