The Expert Guide To Choosing A Therapist
After many months of struggling with depressive thoughts and anxiety towards the future, I decided that I had had enough. I was tired of carrying around this suitcase full of shame and guilt. I no longer wanted to believe that these thoughts and emotions defined who I was as a person. The tipping point came after having a great evening with my boyfriend that I didn’t want to end - the emotions burst out of me, the good, the bad, the ugly. I ended up on my closet floor, bawling my eyes out, afraid of being alone until the wave of emotions passed. I realized that there were a lot of things that I had not taken care of - I hadn’t shut the door to many life events. Instead, I had merrily swept them under a rug.
Since this happened, I have been confiding in a close friend on ways to move forward and truly be happy with where I am. She suggested speaking with a therapist. At first, I was a bit apprehensive. I am not one to ask for help nor do I want to burden others with my problems. Yet, as the weeks go by, I can feel the suitcase of emotions becoming heavier and heavier. I know that I cannot move forward without professional help.
My friend is a Licensed Social Worker and was kind enough to share six things to consider when choosing a therapist.
For those who have experiences with certain traumas (sexual assault for example) gender can be a huge consideration. Personally, I would have a difficult time working with a male. However, in some cases it can be beneficial to work with someone of the opposite gender as it provides an opportunity for growth and reflection.
It is frustrating that I have to put this on the list, but without insurance, paying out of pocket for sessions can get expensive. Try to find someone in-network. Additionally, check to see how long and for what services your insurance will cover.
Background/Expertise/Experience of the Clinician
Someone with an LSW (Licensed Social Worker) will have less experience than an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker - 2 years post graduate work in a clinical setting). There are also licenses for mental health counselors (LMHC) and addictions (LAC or LCAC). These can vary by state so check out what licenses that person has.
When reading the biographies of clinicians you might notice a laundry list of areas in which they’re an expert in: young children, adolsecents, marriage counseling, grief and loss, etc. There are a wide variety. Look around for specialists that tailor to your needs.
For some, it’s important to have a Christian therapist; others may not care. However, a good therapist will be supportive of what is important to you and will never bring their own beliefs into the mix.
Finding a Therapist is Like Dating
Lastly, understand that the first therapist you see may not be the right match and that’s okay. On the same accord, a good therapist is going to help you explore parts of yourself that may be uncomfortable at times, so not every meeting is going to be rainbows and butterflies. Find someone you can build a relationship with and you’ll be on your way!
So what do you think? Can you see yourself speaking with a therapist this year? Tell me in the comments what other ways you’re committing to improving your emotional well-being, I want to hear!