Similar to the medical and dental fields, there are numerous providers to choose from in the area of behavioral health. A quick provider search on your insurance’s website will generate at least a dozen names of mental health providers in your area. Like doctors and dentists, therapists come from a variety of educational backgrounds, have varying levels of experience, and possess different theoretical perspectives.
Although it is extremely important to choose a provider that you are comfortable with in any area of practice, it is especially important in behavioral health. Due to the nature of sensitive information that might be exchanged, you have to have complete trust in your therapist. Mental health professionals come with their own personalities, skill sets, cultural and religious backgrounds, and are of varying levels of intellect, so it is crucial that you find the right one for you.
It is important to note that the right therapist for one person may not necessarily be the right person for another person. No two therapists practice in exactly the same way. Some therapists may utilize a more active listening approach, while others may be more interactive and talkative in session. Some therapists may be more comfortable using silence, while some may be more adept at infusing creative art forms into their practice such as music, art, and sand.
Choosing a therapist can be an intimidating and daunting process, but above all else, you need to select someone who is going to make you feel safe, supported, and not judged. When choosing therapists, please keep in mind that age, gender, and experience matter. A 65 year old woman may have great difficulty connecting with a 25 year old male therapist, as she may feel that there is no way that he could possibly understand her. A 35 year old woman struggling with parenting may have trouble connecting with a 30 year old therapist who does not have children themselves.
Besides reading reviews or asking for recommendations, you will not know exactly what someone is like until you meet them. After doing some research and seeing what providers are affiliated with your insurance, it is important to try them out. Within a few visits, you will undoubtedly know if you click with a therapist or not. If you feel uncomfortable or fearful to say what is on your mind, you know that this is the wrong therapist for you. If you feel safe to share your innermost thoughts and feel that you are getting the type of feedback that you need, it is a good indication that you are on the right track.
You may find that you like a therapist as a person, but may feel like they are not actually helping you. Perhaps they are nice enough, but are just too quiet for your liking. Maybe they are non-judgmental, but give you way too much feedback and make you feel as if you cannot get a word in edgewise. Perchance, they are supportive, but simply do not understand what you are trying to say. Or, just maybe, they are giving you the wrong type of advice all together.
At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that therapy is not going to work if you are not comfortable with the person that you are talking to. If you feel that a therapist is not right for you after several sessions, please do not keep going to them for fear that you will hurt their feelings. A good therapist will not take things personally and will help refer you to someone more suitable for you. Similarly, if you do not connect with a therapist after the first few visits, do not give up and swear off therapy forever. Try again and keep trying until you find exactly what you are looking for. You will not regret it.