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How to Find the Right Therapist

Are you thinking about starting therapy?  Or have you already decided to start, but unsure how to go about finding a therapist?  It can be hard to know where to start.  Use the steps below as a guideline for how to go about finding a therapist that will be a good fit for you.

1 – Think about your reasons for starting therapy. Think about the things you are wanting to work on and the problems you are wanting to resolve.  This will help you when you begin your search for the right therapist.  Therapists typically have areas of specialty that they outline on their websites and online therapist directories.  For example, you might find that one therapist focuses on relationship issues and couples counseling, while another works with individuals dealing with anxiety disorders.

2 – Consider location.  When browsing through therapist profiles and websites, consider how far you might be willing to drive for a weekly session.  For some, close proximity is very important.  For others, finding the right therapist is more important and worth driving a little bit further if necessary.

3 – Consider finances.  Are you wanting to use insurance? If so, how much is your co-pay for services, what is your deductible, and do you need to find someone in-network?  If you have out-of-network benefits, you may have more options when it comes to the therapist you choose. Out-of-network benefits allow you to be reimbursed for a percentage of services offered by a professional outside of your insurance network. Do you prefer to pay out-of-pocket and leave insurance out of the process altogether?  When researching therapists, compare rates – but don’t use price as the primary determining factor.  Unlike shopping for some other services or products, this isn’t something that should entirely drive your decision when “shopping” for therapy.  After all, you’re going for quality and looking to find someone who can help you best. Think about how much you are willing to set aside each week/month for your overall well-being and mental health.  Try to remember that even though therapy can be expensive, it is an investment into your current and future well-being.  It’s hard to put a price on benefits of therapy that may have a lifelong benefit.

4 – Know what credentials to look for. You’ll want to look for a Licensed Therapist (Master’s-level of higher) or Psychologist (PhD-level). In Florida, you’ll be looking for a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), or a Psychologist (PhD-level).  You might find when doing your search that some therapists advertising services are “Registered Interns”.  This means that they have completed a minimum of a Master’s degree in the field and are working towards meeting criteria to be fully licensed.  If you are looking for someone to be able to prescribe medication, you’ll want to look for a Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists typically schedule shorter sessions and in most cases do not conduct in-depth psychotherapy. They’ll screen for mental health symptoms and prescribe medication to help manage those symptoms.  Some people see a Licensed Therapist or Psychologist for therapy and also see a Psychiatrist for medication-management.

5 –  Establish your availability.  Therapy sessions are typically scheduled for one hour each week – although it’s ultimately up to you as to how often you want to be seen. Think about what day of the week and what time works best for you.  This may be a factor when scheduling your first session, depending on the availability of the therapist.

5 – Browse Directories. Now that you have an idea of what you’re hoping to work on, how far you’re able to drive, what time-frame you are available, and what to look for in terms of credentials, it’s time to start browsing directories.  A couple good directories are Psychology Today and Good Therapy.  You’ll be able to search by zip code and browse therapists in your area. Read profiles thoroughly.  Remember to look for a therapist that is speaking to the issues you are wanting to work on.  Find out how much they charge and what forms of payment they accept, whether or not they accept insurance (if this is important to you), times they might be available, location, and their areas of specialty.

6 – Understand that the right fit is very important. One of the biggest factors that impacts the likelihood of success in therapy, is having a therapist that is the right fit – meaning someone you are comfortable with and willing to open up to.  The difference between therapy and services offered by other professionals, is that this is interaction is a very human and relationship-centered kind of service. Although it’s a “professional relationship” with clear boundaries – the therapeutic relationship is key. You never really know for sure if a therapist is a good fit until you start, but there is a lot you can do to screen for this before ever meeting up in person.  Therapists websites and directory profiles will help you get a feel for a therapist’s style and approach.  If you do your homework in advance, you’ll increase your odds of finding a therapist you are comfortable with.  If after the first or second session, you feel the therapist you’ve chosen will not work for you, voice your concerns and look for someone else. You can continue your online search or ask your therapist to provide a referral for you.  Even the best therapists understand that their personality or style might not be fitting for everyone.

7 – Call or send an email inquiry.  Most directory listings and websites give you the option to call and/or send a message.  Do whatever is most comfortable for you and ask any questions you might have before getting started.

If you’re wondering whether or not Float on Counseling might be a good fit for you, check out our services, browse our website, or send Joel a message with any questions you might have. Joel is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the state of Florida.

You can also call or text 727-258-5231.

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