5 Tips to Help You Find the Right Therapist

The process of finding a therapist to help you deal with a specific problem or issue can go much smoother when you find someone with whom you can trust and develop a connection. You want to feel that they understand your situation and your needs. There has to be a good rapport in order for you to give them the information they need to help you; otherwise you may feel too vulnerable and leave the session feeling disappointed. Your comfort level is important, and you may notice that you need to talk to a few therapists to gain a sense of who it feels right to see.

Here are some tips to help you begin:

  1. Research available therapists. If you do not have a referral or name of a recommended therapist, the internet has made it possible to find one. You can view a variety of therapists through not only search engine searches but also through local therapist directories. The directories make it possible to view a listing of therapist’s profiles to get to know more about their area of expertise and the services they provide. Typically their profile also includes a link to the therapist’s personal website, should they have one. Some popular resources to help you find a suitable San Diego therapist are: Psychology Today, The Therapist Directory of San Diego, Network Therapy, Good Therapy, and Theravive.
  2. Seek experience. If you’re seeking a therapist for a specific issue, look for a therapist that has a specialty or particular interest in that area. Therapists specialize in various areas of mental health, including depression, anxiety, trauma, children, couples, divorce, relationships, psychological testing, ADD, OCD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism, etc. Therapists who are licensed to provide psychotherapy in California are PhD’s, PsyD’s, LMFT’s, LCSW’s and LPCC’s. A psychiatrist (MD) is a medical doctor who is licensed to prescribe medication; some psychiatrists provide psychotherapy as well. PsychCentral has a helpful article explaining the distinctions between therapist degrees nationwide.
  3. Seek a consultation if possible. Some therapists offer consults either on the phone or in person. The consultation allows you to ask questions and also get a feel of how you’ll interact with the therapist and how your sessions will work. During this evaluation period, you may want to ask questions about their treatment philosophy, how they have worked to help others, and more importantly how they can help you. After the consultation, think about how comfortable you felt during your conversation. Is this someone with whom you think you can build a trusting therapist-client relationship? Do you feel you can tell them your feelings without judgment or criticism? Do you feel they were being sincere?
  4. If you have insurance and wish to use it, always check with the therapist to see if they take it. It is best to call your insurance company to find out about your insurance plan’s coverage for counseling and therapy services. Some therapists will either do this for you or have their billing service take care of it. Coverage differs from plan to plan. Many HMO and PPO plans provide complete coverage with a small co-pay for therapists who are “in-network” providers (those who are contracted with the insurance company). There may or may not be a deductible that has to be met before coverage is provided. If the therapist is an “out-of-network” provider (not contracted with the insurance company) a portion of the service may or may not be covered after a deductible is met. It is a good idea to always check with your insurance prior to your therapy appointment so that you know exactly what they will and will not cover.
  5. The first may not always be the best. For whatever reason, your first therapist may not work for you. If you feel uncomfortable with your first choice, you shouldn’t feel bad about changing therapists. In fact, you may need to see a few therapists before you find the right fit, and you should feel comfortable continuing your search until you find someone with whom you can work. In your sessions, if you feel like you’re not being heard, if you’re made to feel uncomfortable, the therapist talks more than listens, or constantly gives unsolicited advice or directives than its time to move on.