You have been thinking about it for quite some time, and now you have decided to take that leap and begin your talk therapy journey. If the thought of pouring your heart out to a complete stranger seems increasing daunting and you don't know where to begin, this post is for you.
As a licensed therapist and a client (yes, therapists have therapists too), I can relate to those feelings of anxiousness, and you certainly are not alone. When seeing a new therapist, it is normal to be apprehensive and nervous. However, the more you get to know your therapist and become comfortable, you will be well on your way to accomplishing your treatment goals.
In your search for a new therapist, you might find some really great therapists, but keep in mind, one great therapist may not necessarily be a good fit for everyone. So, don't feel bad if you don't click with that therapist your best friend swears is the best thing since sliced bread.
Here are a couple of tips to help you navigate finding the right therapist for you.
1. Ask around
When individuals have good experiences with people, they love to talk about it. The same is true for bad experiences. Sometimes our friends can be a great resource for pointing us in the right direction. Just keep in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to therapy. Your experience can be contingent on your goals and expectations. Telling a friend you are going to therapy might also be a great way to ensure you don't back out at the last minute.
2. Ask about your therapist's training
Counselors are often more than happy to share their training and educational backgrounds with you, and don't be afraid to ask. Be sure to ask about licensure information, educational training, years of experience and special trainings or certifications. In Oklahoma, licensed therapists must have a master's degree and hold state license in behavioral health.
Oklahoma behavioral health licenses include:
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor (LADC), or Licensed Behavioral Practitioner (LBP).
3. Trust your instincts
If you meet with a counselor and you leave feeling disrespected or violated, it's time to keep shopping around! Counseling should provide a non-judgmental space for you to feel comfortable getting the help you need and deserve. Below are other signs you might want to keep looking for a different therapist:
Your therapist should be able to articulate his/her approach to therapy. You want to make sure his/her approach aligns with your unique needs. Don't be afraid to ask them to explain their therapeutic approaches and treatment methods.
5. If at first you don't succeed...try, try, and try again
Every therapist is different, and everyone's experience with therapy is different. If you don't find the right therapist on your first try, don't give up. It might take meeting a couple of different therapists until you find the right one that make you feel comfortable.
If you need assistance finding a therapist in your area consider searching psychologytoday.com
Ashley Bryant MS, LPC, CRC, DCC is a licensed professional counselor and the founder of Legacy Family Services, Inc. located in Oklahoma City, OK.