Get recommendations from friends, relatives, your family doctor, whoever you feel comfortable talking to. If it’s not something you want to share, google is your friend. See my post about making sure your therapist is accredited, and then google that association. They often have a list of practitioners on their website. Pick a few based on your location, and then pick up the phone. Don’t be shy, they’re not going to try to analyse you over the phone. It can be just like making a doctors appointment. Professional, friendly, and setting a time and date. But it may be more helpful if you are ok to talk a little about why you want to make an appointment, to get a sense of the therapist.
Call the chosen therapists on the phone and take a few minutes to talk with them. Get a sense of what they’re like.
If it’s working hours they may be very busy, but they should be willing to spend five minutes on the phone, answering questions.
If you divulge your problem, ask them if they’ve dealt with those kinds of issues before.
Ask about their fee so you’re not surprised when you arrive
Make sure that they are professional in the way they talk to you, and that they are accredited.
If they seem impatient or defensive about answering your questions, then go with your gut. You need to be in therapy with someone you feel comfortable with.
Make your first appointment.
Being in their presence and seeing how they relate to you is an invaluable test of how you and they will get along. Committing to working with a specific therapist is a very important decision. You need to feel comfortable, and that this is a safe and confidential space. You are going to spend quite bit of time with this person, entrusting some of your most important, perhaps painful, issues with him or her, so you should be careful about making the decision to see that therapist. So go with your gut. Just because they were recommended, or a friend liked them, doesn’t mean you they are the one for you.
Feeling connected is important.
Research studies on the results of psychotherapy show that feeling comfortable with and understood by the therapist is more important than the therapist’s theoretical orientation or even amount of experience. It’s not that your therapist should act like your friend, in fact, that can be detrimental to the therapy. But he or she should be professional, interested, concerned, and you should feel safe. Here’s a nice, brief article from Psychology Today about 4 Ways to Tell if your therapist is competent:
Different people prefer different therapy styles.
Some people are best working with a man, others with a woman, for others the sex of the therapist doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable with your therapist (not that you should be too comfortable and relaxed). It’s not like being with a friend or a relative; if you’re too comfortable, your therapist may not be the kind of person who can help you deal with painful things, and you might not get anything out of the therapy. But avoid any therapist who seems cold, hostile, impatient or sarcastic. Research shows that clients of this type of therapist also don’t get much out of therapy.
This is your time. You are the client. Working through personal issues can be hard, and we can often be resistant and defensive. So find the therapist who is right for you. There’s a fantastic article by Whitney Gale about the difference having the right therapist makes. I really love this story and it resonates so much, so I’ll post it below. When your first experience is with the wrong therapist it can put you off for life, and that would be such a shame, as therapy can be life changing. Have a read of this if you can get a chance, or particularly if you’ve had a bad experience with a therapist in the past.
If you wish to book a psychotherapy session with Bébhinn please click here: https://theirishwellnesshub.com/book-an-appointment/