Believe me when I say, having to have therapy at all is tough enough, so choosing the best therapist for you will, at the very least, help cultivate a comforting therapeutic experience for you.
Although, this will be an unbiased licensed professional, you’ll have to stay mindful of having to share all of your most intimate thoughts and experiences that you’ve never shared with anyone else. Also something else to consider, as a black woman, it was necessary for me to find a black woman therapist. In other words, if you feel like you need to find a therapist with the same ethnicity and/or race, you have every right. Remember…you need to be comfortable with your therapist. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them in your most vulnerable state for weeks, months, or maybe years.
Other factors to consider:
Gender — Do you think you’d feel more comfortable with a man or a woman?
Age — Do you want to work with someone older, younger, or around your age?
Religion — Does it matter to you if the therapist has a particular religious affiliation?
Keep in mind not to get discouraged if you have found a therapist and he/she wasn’t a good match with you. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.
There’s a few reasons why someone would be turned off by their first therapist. Reasons could include…
- They seem like they’re not listening
- Using insensitive words.
- Inconsiderate of time (being late or rushing to finish.)
- Feeling unsupported
Just like dating, if you don’t feel valued, find someone else who will. As a patient, you need to feel like your therapist cares and has your best interest at heart. Don’t feel bad if you change therapists. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the therapist and the patient just don’t click. And that’s OK.
Because of the current state of the country, a lot of online office visits are taking place. Many therapists are allowing potential patients the option between in-person office visits and virtual. Most online programs will prompt you to fill out a registration form, asking you to provide some basic information on what you’d like to address in therapy, such as anxiety, parenting issues, or substance abuse. They will then select therapists in your area and with credentials that fits the description of the the kind of therapist you’re looking for.
Courtesy of She’s Gotta Have It
Of course, there are therapists that practice in hospitals and clinics. Some have their own private practice and takes traditional insurance. However, if you are uninsured and pay out of pocket, there are programs, that allows patients to pay within their budget.
Therapists often have a lot of initials after their names, and it can be confusing to figure out what all those letters stand for. While you certainly don’t need to become an expert on mental health accreditations, it can be helpful to understand a bit about what the letters mean. Here are some of the more common ones:
- LCSW — Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- LMFT — Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- NCC — National Certified Counselor
- LCDC — Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
- LPC — Licensed Professional Counselor
- LMHC — Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- PsyD — Doctor of Psychology
- PhD — Doctor of Philosophy
- MD — Doctor of Medicine (physician psychiatrist)
What is important is to make sure that the therapist you choose is a licensed mental health professional and that they follow guidelines and a code of ethics. This is important if you are looking for therapy as opposed to life coaching. Life coaches are not required to have a specific degree, and they don’t have oversight by a governing board.
Licensed therapists must meet state qualifications, which may include the following:
Passing a licensing test
Passing a background check
Performing a certain number of supervised hour
Maintaining continuing education credits
What to Expect During Your First Appointment
During an initial session, your therapist will likely explain how therapy works, provide you with information on confidentiality, and ask you to sign some forms.
From there you may be interviewed about the problems or symptoms you are experiencing and your goals for treatment. The therapist may ask questions about your childhood, your medical history, your family, and any history of past mental health treatment.
This can help them gain an overall view of you. And it will help them work with you on establishing goals at a future appointment.
While the process of finding a therapist can be a bit overwhelming, just know that all the releasing and healing that will take place will be be worth the effort. You owe it to yourself to invest in your mental health.
I’m proud of you for at least considering therapy. 🙂