Finding a therapist, psychotherapist or marriage counselor can be a trying endeavor for many, but the results are well worth the effort. In order to find a therapist, one must put the necessary work into making the right choices for your specific need. It is important to remember that the decision you make when finding a therapist has a large impact on your future, so the time you put into the selection process in priceless. You want to find the therapist or counselor that is going to be most successful at relating to you in a way that is conducive to evoking positive change. This means putting in the time to find a therapist with the qualifications and experience for helping clients like yourself.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Searching for a Therapist on the Internet
One the first approaches to finding a therapist you may want to take, is searching the Internet for someone listed near your home/work or using a social network to get recommendations from friends. Perhaps you need to find someone in your area who specializes in a particular type of therapy specific to your needs such as behavior modification or psychotherapy.
The following are some Do’s and Don’ts for weeding through online generalizations for specific information which can help you make the most informed decision in choosing your therapist…
- GET REFERRALS FROM YOUR DOCTOR AND/OR TRUSTED FRIENDS. Friends, family, doctors, and even social networking sites such as Facebook are great places to put out a general call for recommendations from people who know you well.
- CHECK YOUR STATE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION’S WEBSITE. Each state has their own psychological association such as the California Psychological Association or the Board of Behavorial Sciences which has a database of all members. Search for one in your area or with the specialty you need. Psychology Today is also another reputable site with a searchable database.
- CHECK THE STATE PROFESSIONAL BOARD FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION. It’s vital to know that the therapists you are going to call are licenced to practice in your area. Sites like the California Board of Psychology or the Board of Behavioral Sciences have information on licenced therapists such as complaints, suits, or revoked licence reports.
- INTERVIEW YOUR POTENTIAL THERAPIST. When you call around to potential therapists, get to know them better by asking important questions like: What are your areas of expertise? What are your fees? How long are most sessions? Your counselor is going to be an important facet in your life and personal growth; take the time to get to know them too.
- HAVE A CONSULTATION OR ASSESSMENT BEFORE COMMITTING. Ask to have an initial consultation meeting with your therapist before committing to any treatment. This will give you a chance to determine if the personality, environment, treatment methods and plans of your therapist is suitable to your needs. Probably the most important characteristics for choosing a therapist are that you feel a sense of rapport with them, and that you trust their expertise and knowledge.
- DON’T NECESSARILY USE SAME THERAPIST AS A FRIEND. The person who is best for your friend may not be best for you. Only use the same therapist if you feel comfortable with their advice and that you will be confiding in the same person.
- DON’T TRUST ONLINE REVIEWS. Of course you can read these reviews, but keep in mind that therapy is not like retail shopping and a disgruntled client is more likely to write a review than a satisfied client. Besides, the methods which fail one person may work well for you. But if the reviews reinforce other red flags in the therapists professional background then it’s perhaps best to move onto the another listing.
- DON’T GET DISCOURAGED. If the local counselors and therapists you call cannot take you on or are not proficient enough in your special needs, ask them for a recommendation. These people know the industry and may have some idea of a colleague who might be a better match. If they don’t have any specific recommendations, then ask their opinion for how you might narrow your search for better results going forward.
Get to know your criteria. Get online and narrow down your choices. Get on the phone and start asking questions. And finally, get face to face with your choice before you commit. Taking steps towards better personal mental health is a challenging goal. The Internet is a great tool to help you search for the best counselor to fit your needs. Use it wisely and begin your journey now.