Often I have clients talk with me about their journey of finding the “right” therapist for them. They have talked about starting therapy years ago and then stopping because they did not like their therapist, feeling unsure of how to “fire” their therapist, and unsure of how to go about “shopping around” for a new therapist. Yes, therapists are people and have feelings, but ensuring your therapist is the right fit for you is important! You wouldn’t keep a babysitter around if you did not feel like your children were being well taken care of or leave your children to take care of themselves because you did not like the babysitters that you tried. Your mental health deserves to be well taken care of and that starts with having a therapist with whom you feel comfortable with.
All therapists have some letters at the end of their name to indicate the type of license they have. The three main types are Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). All therapists have to work hard to get their license by completing a Master’s Degree, submit documentation, complete clinical hours, pass a national exam, and many other steps! However, the training looks a bit different depending on which track a therapist chooses. LCSW’s place their focus on connecting people with the resources they need to function well, whether internal (strengths and skills), and external (support groups, community resources). LPC’s look at the challenge the client presents as individual developmental issues and examine psychological and social development to create a treatment plan. LMFT’s see the presenting challenge as more than just an individual issue and believe that no behavior exists in a social vacuum. They will examine the challenge in regards to its affect on individual, social, and familial relationships and also invite others to join sessions as well, as allowed by the client.
When looking for a therapist, it is important to check out their website. Many therapists will list their areas of expertise and what specific mental health needs they feel comfortable working with. This will allow you to better understand if the therapist could be a good fit for you. On the flip side, you may not know what you want or need and that is completely okay and normal! Ask if the therapist is willing to have a free consultation so you can better understand if you may want to move forward and pay for a full session. Think about it like an interview, you should feel free to ask the therapist questions to gauge if they will be a good fit for you in regards to their training and even personality traits.
I can only speak for myself, but I am quite alright completing a consultation and hearing from a potential client that they do not feel like it is the the right fit for them and would not like to move forward. I always thank them for their honesty, provide some other referrals, and wish them the best. I am well aware that I will not accommodate or meet the need of every client who reaches out to me. At the beginning of my therapeutic relationship with clients, I always remind them that they can at any point share that they do not feel like the approach I have taken is helpful or that they would like to keep searching for a therapist that they feel will help them achieve their goals.
Another important factor to consider is the costs of therapy and insurance coverage. I, like many other therapists, do not accept insurance due to the many challenges associated with the process, and am considered an out-of-network provider. But that does not mean you cannot still use your insurance coverage! Therapists are able to provide you with documentation, referred to as a Super Bill, that can be submitted to your insurance in order to request reimbursement for services from a therapist outside of their network. It is important for you to contact your insurance and determine the amount that they will reimburse for the services. Also, it is important to know that many therapists, including myself, offer limited sessions on a sliding scale. This means that the costs for therapy can be reduced if finances is a barrier to you accessing the services you need. This is often available on an as-needed basis, but do not be afraid to discuss this with your therapist.
In summary, you should BE PICKY when choosing a therapist! Please, please, please, do not settle! You deserve the help you need. Also, DO NOT GIVE UP! I know it can feel overwhelming or daunting to try out different therapists, but there is someone out there for you.
Please schedule a free consultation if you have further questions or want to schedule a session to create space for you to address your own mental health needs. This takes time and vulnerability, but it is worth it! You are worth it! We all have many complexities individually and within relationships, but that’s what makes them so amazing!
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