Sometimes, you may find yourself coming up short on coping while facing life’s challenges and demands. When this happens, you might decide to seek the support of a therapist. A seasoned and smart therapist can help you change your behavioral patterns, navigate life transitions, effectively handle relationship problems, self-esteem issues, and symptoms such as anxiety or depression thereby making way for a more fulfilling life.
It’s important to work with a therapist who is interested in you and your experiences. It’s also important to match with a therapist who has the proper credentials, training and experience. You want a therapist who is engaged, smart and compassionate. Finding a therapist who is the right match for you may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Many clients stop therapy before they meet their counseling goals because they don’t have a good connection with their therapist. A good therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist will significantly impact your success in online therapy. Studies show the strongest indicator for a positive outcome in therapy is the relationship between therapist and client.
Here are some useful tips to help you find an engaged, compassionate and smart therapist.
Ask a trusted colleague, friend, or doctor to recommend a good therapist for you. Ensure that the therapist recommended has experience in the areas you’re wanting to address and change. A good therapist for someone else may not necessarily be good for you. Finding a good therapist requires some research.
You can start by asking friends or family for a referral. It’s always good to reach out to someone who has worked with and had a good experience with a therapist. There are online therapist directories where you can search for counselors in San Diego. Web searches also provide choices. Regardless, it’s smart to check reviews and read a therapist’s website for more detailed information.
Make a list of the things you want in your therapist. There are expert therapists specializing in different areas and modalities. Other considerations include price, years of experience, in-office or telehealth and even gender.
When you hone down a few potential therapists, interview each one to gather feedback on how they respond to your situation and therapy goals. Most therapists offer a free phone consultation, and you’ll have the opportunity to assess how comfortable you feel with each therapist. Don’t feel pressured to make an appointment right then and there. Take your time and go with your gut.
Mental health providers’ credentials
It is important to confirm a therapist’s license to determine whether they have the education and training to work effectively. There are several types of licensed therapists including LMFTs (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist), LCSWs (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), Psychologists and LPCs (Licensed Professional Counselor). LMFTs are trained to work with individuals and couples and their educational training emphasizes counseling rather than research or case management.
Make sure the price is right
Before determining whether you have a good connection with a therapist, it’s important to know whether the fee charged fits into your budget. If you intend to pay with insurance, first determine your copay and coverage. Ask whether the therapist you’re considering accepts insurance because many therapists do not. Then discuss with the therapist their thoughts about how many sessions may be necessary based on the issues you’re wanting to address. Insurance companies usually have a limited number of sessions they will approve but paying out of pocket gives you the freedom to determine with your therapist the number of sessions best for you.
If the fee of a desired therapist is too high for your budget, some therapists have a sliding scale fee they may offer. If insurance doesn’t cover therapy and the sliding scale is still too expensive, you can opt for unlicensed therapists who are under the supervision of a licensed therapist. Many agencies, clinics and even private practices have unlicensed therapists working for them.
Set Therapeutic Goals
Set therapeutic goals to determine what you want to achieve from therapy. Talk with your therapist about your goals and together you can come up with a plan and work toward those goals. Sometimes goals change during the course of therapy but you and your therapist should always be in communication about what you’re aiming toward.
It’s important to note there are alternatives to traditional talk-therapy and some clients want to explore different modalities. You can look for a therapist with an alternative form of therapy. Examples are somatic therapy which focuses on the relationship between mind and body, art therapy which relies on art forms to give expression and insight, animal-assisted psychotherapy, and more.
Explore Local Resources
If you are a student, an employee, a person of faith or gay or lesbian, you should have specialized resources at your disposal. If employed, your human resource team can give you a list of licensed therapists to browse or you may be able to see an EAP counselor. If a student, the school`s counseling center can usually offer help. If a person of faith, your place of worship will often refer you to faith based therapists. The GLBTQ centers also have counseling referrals for people in their community. Plus, online therapist directories almost always have search criteria to ensure you contact someone who will have understanding of your individual needs.
Organizations addressing your area of concern
Organizations like national associations, networks, or Helplines can help you find specialized therapists for a particular mental health issue or help you network and find information and support. When looking for a specialized therapist for personal growth, some organizations that can help are:
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
- National Center for PTSD.
- National Eating Disorder Association.
There are also organizations for people of color who can give you a list of sensitive, culture-conscious therapists. Some organizations can help you find a licensed marriage counselor if you have been abused in marriage.
If your job is associated with your mental health concerns, there are professional organizations that can help you find a local therapist in San Diego CA. The International Association of Firefighters is an example, which helps firefighters with P.T.S.D., substance abuse, or other mental issues.
Family Therapist Online Databases
Useful online search tools include; American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, American Psychological Association, and Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists
Keep notes and a paper and pen at hand when meeting with your therapist for the first time whether it’s in person, online, or by phone. Your notes should have questions and concerns you have for the therapist, and the pen and paper are for insights you gain throughout session. The American Psychological Association and The Anxiety and Depression Association websites have an array of questions you may want to ask your therapist to determine their suitability to your case.
Pay attention to the therapist’s responses. Do you feel comfortable with this therapists in San Diego? Do you feel emotionally safe enough to venture into to discussing difficult and personal topics? If not, you are entitled to switch therapists and look for one you trust and are more comfortable with.
The bottom line is human connection is the heart of effective therapy.
Don’t assume talk therapy is the only option
There are adjuncts to therapy as well and therapy alone is certainly not the only option. Medication can be an effective adjunct for troublesome symptoms that don’t budge easily with therapy alone. Consulting a nutritionist to maximize nutrition and enhance physical health is another good avenue to explore. A good exercise and sleep routine area also very important for overall health. There is also animal-assisted psychotherapy which is useful for working through fears, lack of confidence or trauma. Somatic therapy explores the relationship between mind and body. Art therapy and Person-centered therapy can lend insight and highlight emotions not as easily captured through talk therapy alone. Regardless of what modality you embrace, a therapist’s experience should render a creative and meaningful session.
To learn about couples counseling services, contact me today at 619-318-1901.