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Sharing our thoughts on therapy, mental health, and general wellness.
Have you been considering starting therapy but aren't sure where to start? Are you feeling stuck or confused about the process of searching for a new therapist? In this blogpost I will discuss some of the reasons people seek therapy and share some resources and strategies on searching for a new therapist. If you have suggestions that have worked for you in the past, please share in the comment section!
The first thing you may want to consider before beginning a therapist search is to give some thought to the reasons you're seeking therapy and/or identify what you hope to get out of therapy. Some questions to consider might include: how long have you been struggling with this issue? How does it impact you? What (if anything) has helped in the past? Clarifying your own reasons for beginning therapy can help you, and any prospective therapist, figure out if the two of you would be a good fit to work together (more about client-therapist "fit" below).
Why do people go to therapy? People seek therapy for a variety of reasons. Some common issues that therapy can help with are: anxiety, self-exploration, perfectionism/a tough inner critic, feeling overwhelmed, low self-esteem, imposter syndrome, difficult family relationships, grief, trauma, depression, relationship issues, and life transitions (among many other reasons). In short, therapy is for everyone! Even if you are "successful" or a high achiever, therapy can still be helpful. This article from Inc. Magazine details 5 Reasons Successful People Need Therapy. While Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. on PsychCentral talks about Making the Most of Therapy.
So! Now that you have a sense of some of the issues you want to work on and have been struggling with…what's next? Searching for a therapist!
A great way to find a great therapist is through word of mouth. Ask someone you trust for a referral! Do you have a friend or family member who loves their therapist? Why not ask their therapist for a referral? Therapists often have networks of other clinicians that they know and trust. This is a great place to start.
Ask your Primary Care Physician (PCP) for a referral. Your PCP often will have a list of therapists they work with or can recommend. Also, if you plan to use insurance, call your insurance company. They should be able to provide you with a list of therapists in your insurance network. (We talk about some of the benefits of not using insurance to pay for therapy on our FAQ page.)
I also recommend searching online for a therapist (even if you are just reviewing the recommendations you got from a friend, family member, or your PCP). These days, almost all therapists will have some degree of an online presence. Reading your prospective therapist's website or other online profiles can help give you a sense of their specialization area(s), the type of therapy they practice, their background, information on fees and payment methods, location, and availability.
Here are some websites where therapists are listed:
Psychology Today has large database of therapists across the US with a variety of search options. For example, here are the search results for therapists in Arlington, MA (where Arlington Therapy Alliance is located!).
Therapy for Black Girls provides a database of African American therapists (and a great podcast!). Here are the therapists in Massachusetts from the Therapy for Black Girls website.
GoodTherapy.org is another large database of therapists, with multiple search options. Here are the GoodTherapy.org search results for therapists in Arlington, MA.
LGBT+ Resources offers a range of resources for the LGBTQIA+ community (currently focused on MA and RI). Here is the list of therapists from LGBT+ Resources.
Massachusetts & Rhode Island Therapists of Color Directory is a list of therapists of color in MA and RI.
Spirit of Change is a holistic magazine based in New England. Here is a link to the directory, which lists therapists as well as other types of healers.
And finally, search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo! can be helpful. Try searching for therapists in your city (or other criteria that is important to you, such as a therapist's gender, ethnicity, specialization, hours, etc.) or by the therapist's name.
And now…time to do your due diligence! Once you have a list of some prospective therapists who fit what you are looking for, call or email them and ask questions. Studies shows that – regardless of the type of therapy practiced – the relationship between the client and the therapist (the "therapeutic alliance") is one of the most important aspects to successful therapy. Therapy is an investment of your time, money, and energy (it can be challenging to work on yourself!) so it's important to take some time to find a therapist you'll feel comfortable working with.
Here are two articles that talk about the importance of the therapeutic alliance in therapy. The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy (HuffPost article by Deborah L. Cabaniss, MD) and The Importance of the Relationship in Therapy (Psychology Today article by Lisa Firestone Ph.D.).
I hope this information has helped with your search for a new therapist. Good luck!