By: J.A., Writer for Hope Instilled
Find out why going to therapy is a sign of strength, why it is normal to have some anxiety about it, what to look for in a therapist, and how to go about finding a therapist that is right for you with a step-by-step guide.
Therapy can have a bad stigma associated with it. Some people look at need helping as being weak or may feel like they are damaged. But the truth is going to therapy is a sign of strength because you are choosing to deal with your struggles rather than bury them. A lot of times the people who are most against therapy (look down on it) are actually the ones who need it the most. So don’t listen to people who poke fun of therapy.
You are choosing to heal and find answers, and many people need to but they don’t for whatever reason. Therefore, you will become a stronger person. A lot of the time we are victims of life, and things are not our fault. There is no need to feel any sort of shame or embarrassment. Those who seek out help are those who go further in life.
It is a fact that all people will struggle with trauma in their lifetimes. We are all going to go through difficult periods in our life, no one is except from that. We will all see loved ones die of old age, or experience illness (yup!), mental health struggles (yup!), tragedy, struggles with family, jobs, etc. So there is probably a point in all of our lives where having a professional therapist to talk to may be ideal. Sometimes in life we do get more than we can handle! With chronic illness or a mental health condition we definitely have more than we can handle!
Being vulnerable can be very difficult, and is sometimes more challenging for men than woman. But, the more you open up the more you get from therapy. To ease your anxiety about it, make sure to pick a therapist you know you will never see again. If you live in a small town maybe pick a virtual therapist, or drive a bit further to see a therapist in a nearby town. Also remember, you get out of it what you put in. So if you can’t open up you are just going to waste time, money, or not get the same amount of benefits. A therapist isn’t there to judge you, only to help you. They want you to be comfortable with them.
Take your time choosing a therapist, don’t rush it. Here are some helpful steps to follow in order to find the best therapist for you.
First, figure out what kind of therapist you need. There are psychologists, psychiatrists, integrative psychiatrists, mental health counselors, clinical social workers, hypnosis therapists, trauma work therapists, nutritional therapists, licensed creative arts therapists, and maybe others. I know that is a lot of options and it can be extremely overwhelming! I used to have no clue the difference between a psychologist vs clinical social worker vs trauma therapist or integrative psychiatrist. Just trying to research it can cause anxiety. Luckily, we have done a lot of the work for you!
If you visit Hope Instilled’s therapy page: TYPES OF THERAPISTS, you will see a quick short summary of all the types of therapists I mentioned.
Help on Understanding the Differences
A few of the major differences you will see are some therapists are specifically trained in mental illnesses. If you think there is any chance you have a mental illness, make sure you pick a therapist that diagnosis and treats mental illness. If you don’t have a mental illness, you should probably choose one of the other types of therapists. Therapists that don’t specifically work with mental illness can often be cheaper and a better fit. Also, make sure you understand trauma because many people have it and don’t know they do. If you have trauma, you will need a therapist specialized in it. Otherwise, a therapist who doesn’t understand it could make it worse.
Then, once you narrow down the top one’s you think are a good fit, you can read more in-depth on most of the therapists on our site: Psychologist, Integrative Psychiatrist, Clinical Social Workers, Mental Health Couselors, and Trauma Work Therapists.
Note: We are still adding more information on the other therapist types.
Next, define what type of therapist would be a good match for your personality, needs, etc. Even therapists understand that choosing the right therapist is essential and it has to feel right. It doesn’t matter what their credentials are or years of experience, if they make you feel uncomfortable. You have to feel comfortable with them and be able to trust them. That is key!
Things to Consider
*Make a list of your must-haves for a therapist considering all the things below.
Choose whether you want to go to a therapist in-person or meet with one virtually. Both can be just as beneficial. If driving to a therapist is too time consuming, and you feel more comfortable at home, then choose a virtual therapist. If you don’t have the privacy you need at home, a quiet space, don’t have the technology/internet connection you need, or just want to be out of the house, choose an in-person therapist.
After you have picked out 3 or 4 possible therapists, schedule phone calls with all of them. Find out how they can help you, what is their approach, what type of health conditions they usually work with, and just get an idea of how comfortable you are talking to them. Make sure you give them enough background on why you are seeking out therapy without going into too much detail. See if you can possibly schedule a trial session with the one’s you think are the best fit. But, not all therapists will be open to it.
When you think you have found the right therapist it is time to get started. But if you don’t feel comfortable after 3 to 4 sessions, look for a new therapist. You don’t want to get too deep into therapy and then have to start all over again. As the therapist gets to know you, they will be able to offer advice that better matches your needs.
If you can’t find at least two to call, go back to your must-haves and consider whether you can be more open to the age, geographical area, or credentials you have in mind for a potential therapist. Choosing a therapist can be pretty stressful, but don’t let the anxiety of it keep you from seeking one.
Find the Right One the First Time
Quite a few people go through a few therapists before finding one that fits right for them. Often times they choose the wrong type (psychiatrist vs psychologist vs trauma therapist, etc.), or they work with one that doesn’t mesh with their personality and needs. So taking the time in advance to make sure you find a good fit will be worth it in the long-run.
Hopefully this information makes the process a bit easier for you.