Finding a Therapist

July 22, 2022

How to sift through the noise and find a therapist who works for you.

For Patients

Why is it so hard? 

You open up to one stranger after another, mustering the energy it takes to be vulnerable, until at last you find the person who fits your communication style. 

It can even feel like dating! But it shouldn’t. There are plenty of directories that can make finding a therapist easier. Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, Headway, and Open Path Collective are a few popular and informative options. If only you had directories like these before a first date…

But still...

A directory doesn’t always make things easy. We’ve heard from patients and therapists alike about the most common barriers to finding the right match. Here are the top 5. 

  1. Therapist directories can be overwhelming with seemingly never-ending lists of providers. It’s hard to know where to start! 
  2. A lot of counselors have full caseloads and aren’t taking on new clients. But they don’t always advertise this, since their availability changes frequently, meaning you might do the research and find the perfect counselor only to be turned away when you try to make an appointment. 
  3. It’s difficult to assess a therapist’s fit just from words on a page. You only get so much information from a website! Having a real conversation with another human allows for more meaningful dialogue and a potential connection.
  4. Providers are very busy, and it can take a bit of time to hear back from them regarding availability, etc.
  5. It is a difficult process for therapists to accept insurance, and it can be even more difficult to find a provider who is in your network.

Keep at it!

Remember that if you’re having trouble finding a therapist, you’re not alone. This difficulty is common, because let’s face it, finding someone who understands your complicated inner self and the language you use to express it is hard. It’s okay for this to take time. 

When you’re looking for a therapist, there are a few questions you can ask to help determine whether they might be a good fit. We’ve outlined a few to get you started: 

  • What experience does your therapist have working with clients who have similar goals to yours?
  • What does a typical session look like?
  • What should you be working on outside of therapy to meet your goals?
  • Has your therapist worked with clients of your culture or background?
  • How will you know if your sessions with them are helping move you towards your goals?
  • What theoretical modality does your therapist use in session? (Note: you can think of this as a framework for a given therapist’s practice. Most practices fall into one of five general categories: psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, emotionally focused therapy, and EMDR. You can read more about these and other approaches here.)

Here are three major questions to reflect on after meeting with a therapist:

  • Do they seem knowledgeable and competent? 
  • Do you feel heard and understood?
  • Do you feel emotionally safe with them?

Reflection helps

Writing down your thoughts before and after a therapy session is a great way to get a sense of your compatibility. And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any assistance during the search process. We know it can be daunting. We’ve been there.

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This post was written and researched by
Harry Gatlin

Harry (he/him/his) is a freelance writer and web designer who has worked in the health and tech spaces for over 2 years now. He is passionate about the power of language to make complex systems like health insurance simpler and fairer. He received his BA in English Literature from Williams College and his MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Alabama. In his spare time, he writes fiction and obsesses over Bob Dylan. You can reach him at harrison.gatlin@thesuperbill.com.

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