It takes a lot of courage to ask for help! Once you’ve made the decision that you’re tired of struggling, tired of trying to figure out how to move forward in your life, and ready to give therapy a try, how can you find the right therapist for you?
If you’ve never had therapy before, it can be a daunting question! It’s great if you have a good friend or family member who talks about how much therapy, and their therapist, has helped them. You can ask for the name of who they see, and then pick up the phone, and make an appointment.
Is it really that easy? The answer is “Yes, and No.” It’s possible, but we’re all different. Just because you know someone who works well with a particular therapist, doesn’t guarantee that she/he will be right for you.
If you don’t have a personal referral, you can go to an online directory, such as Find a Therapist, on either Psychology Today or Good Therapy. You’ll have a chance to see pertinent information, pictures, and a personal statement written by each therapist. For Santa Barbara, just put the 93101 zip code in. These are my profiles: 1) Psychology Today 2) Good Therapy.
Before you call and make any appointments with anyone, though, here are some important considerations:
- Does the therapist have an online presence? If you Google the person’s name, you should be able to learn quite a bit about them from their website, blog posts, articles, etc. Does their website information show that they’re well-trained, licensed, and experienced in the issues you’re dealing with right now? Do they have testimonials? Do their writings reflect a worldview and values similar to yours?
- If you call them, how quickly do they return your phone call? What’s your instinct about them after speaking for a few minutes? Are they warm and friendly? Are they patient with your questions? Do they take time with you, or make you feel rushed? Do they have experience with your type of issues?
- Do they offer a free, face-to-face, initial consult? If so, how do you feel when you’re sitting across from them? Are they welcoming and approachable? Do they encourage questions? Do they answer your concerns thoroughly and without reservations? Have they done their own therapy? Is confidentiality a cornerstone of their work? Is there any pressure to make a follow-up appointment on the spot?
These are just a few guidelines to help you with your search. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me. Deciding on who to have as your therapist is an important decision. I believe that a big part of the healing that takes place in therapy, is dependent upon a good, healthy, trusting therapeutic relationship. It’s important to feel emotionally safe, understood, empowered, cared about, and respected while you’re in therapy.
Until next time,