Mental health and discussing our mental health is becoming more of a regular conversation among the younger generations. This awareness has helped to eliminate stigmas, taboos, and stereotypes, surrounding mental health, and the ways we go about treating them. In the United States alone it is reported that nearly 20% of the population has been diagnosed with a mental illness. People are becoming more and more comfortable talking about their own mental health and how they treat it. Seeking the right care can seem daunting at first, but there are more options now than ever before. The relationship you share with a therapist should feel safe and personal. Here are some things to ask yourself when finding your next therapist:
- How do you envision your therapy sessions going? Place yourself in the session, as if you are talking to a therapist. Try to eliminate stereotypes and think about how you want your needs met.
- Do you want a therapist who is engaging and asking you questions? Neither one suggests that one therapist is more interested than the other, however, this is to decide if you prefer somebody to just hear you out, or somebody who is more of a conversationalist?
- Consider what you are seeking therapy for. Are you there to try and correct behavior? Are you there to alleviate stress in your life? Are you struggling with depression? The answers to these questions will help you further decide whether or not you want a “passive” or “active” therapist.
- What is your therapist’s personality like? Are they likable? Do they seem trustworthy? Psychology Today reports while online profiles can look great, it will take interaction to get a sense of what they are really like, so maybe look for those that offer a consultation. After you get to know them, you can begin deciding if they are the right fit for you.
- Do you need them on call for you 24/7? Availability can be a deal-breaker for a lot of patients when seeking a therapist. Some patients have reported initially liking a scheduled appointment on a bi-weekly basis. However, if they experienced a setback and wanted to schedule an appointment more often, they might find that their therapist doesn’t have the availability to see them. This can cause a feeling of helplessness in these patients. Consider a therapist at a clinic rather than a therapist at private practice because most clinics offer 24/7 hotlines for patients. If this does not cut it, then consider discussing your potential therapist’s availability in the early stages, before commitment.
- Can this therapist I have found actually help me? According to David B. Feldman Ph.D., there is no such thing as a quick fix, so you should not go into a session thinking that one session is all it will take to set you on a path to recovery.
A patient’s relationship with their therapist takes work on their part to create a bond. Likewise, it takes work from the therapist, too. Loren Soeiro Ph.D. of the American Board of Professional Psychology expresses that he, much like a patient, looks to discover whether or not he can make a connection with the patient and their problems. Sometimes he knows right away, and feels that connection and that he can help this patient in a great way. Other times it can take two or three sessions to make that connection, and other times the bond is never made. He does not take this personally and contends that we are human beings after all, and sometimes we just don’t bond. Dr. Soeiro finishes by saying that “resonance is important to the process of creating a bond.”
Whether you are looking for a therapist for the first time or looking to switch your current one, remember that the bond between a therapist and patient is special and should be self-gratifying for you both. This takes knowing yourself, knowing what you want from the therapist, and deciding what kind of care you are seeking.
At one point or another in our lives, we encounter challenges that might seem impossible to overcome. However, a good counselor or therapist is great at helping us navigate those obstacles. For a patient going through recovery, a therapist is a major ally to have in their support system. True Recovery’s goal is to help build a great support system around all people in recovery. If you feel that you need to seek help from a therapist and have questions, please call us at (866) 399-6528.