It's not easy, I know.
I'm writing this with the intention to empower you to make the best choice possible for yourself.
There's so many things to take into account when looking for a therapist who will work for you. Here's a few things to think about.
In Person? Online? Phone Sessions?
Feel free to skip this if you already know...
Things to consider:
Do you have privacy at home?
Is there a therapist in your area that you can access easily?
Would you feel more comfortable being outside of your home?
Would you feel more comfortable being inside your own home?
Does being on camera feel comfortable for you?
Do you have access to a stable internet connection?
These are just some prompts to think about when deciding what format for therapy might work best for you. There are many other accessibility factors that might be involved in your decision. You know yourself best, and it's important to set yourself up for success by getting your needs met.
Probably the number one barrier people face when trying to access therapy, is cost.
If you have limitations on how much you can spend on therapy, you are not alone. The Affordable Therapy Network was created to make it easier for people to access therapy that won't break the bank. Even reduced rate therapy is out of reach for many, in which case you can check out this list of Free Resources.
As you browse through the profiles of the therapists who catch your eye, try jotting down a list of those who offer a rate that will work for you. Some of our student therapists offer rates as low as $40 per session, while the majority of our regulated therapists offer a range between $65-$100 per session.
What else is important to you?
Other factors to consider:
Gender Identity/Racial Identity/Lived Experience/LGBTQ+?
Listen to yourself and trust yourself. There are many reasons why you might prefer working with one therapist over another based on their identity. It's ok, your comfort matters! In fact, comfort is one of the best indicators of positive therapeutic outcome.
How does their bio or website make you feel?
We can't always judge a book by it's cover, but you will get an intuitive feel for a therapist from the words they use and the way the present themselves. Did they say something that made you feel hopeful? safe? connected? validated? Did something put you off a little, or just not sit quite right with you? Trust your gut.
Area of Expertise
Interestingly, specialization in a specific issue that you identify with doesn't always equal best fit (though it might be crutial in certain circumstances). Therapists are are skilled at meeting their clients where they're at and adapting accordingly.
There is a thing in therapy called "Therapeutic Alliance", that is extremely important. The experience of having a good therapeutic alliance is often described as a feeling of being understood, seen, heard, respected, and safe.
This matters a lot!
Therapists do of course maintain good boundaries, but that doesn't mean authentic connection isn't part of the process. In fact, the best progress in therapy often comes from feeling safe to express the really hard things, and have them received with empathy and care.
With all that being said about good therapeutic alliance, not all therapists are trained to work with all issues. In some circumstances it might be very important that you find someone with the specific experience you are looking for.
If you are unsure if your therapist has the expertise you need, ask them!
Therapists are obligated to let you know if they don't they have the right experience to work with you and will be happy to offer you referrals to someone who might be a better fit.
You've narrowed it down, now what.
Hopefully you have a shorter list of therapists at this point.
Send an email to all of them. Check in to see if they are available and have some openings that fit your schedule (you may as well figure that part out first).
Ask them to set up a phone consultation. Almost all therapists offer a free consult. The phone consult is another opportunity for you to check in with yourself about whether this is a person you will be comfortable talking to.
Remember when I said you can't always judge a book by it's cover? Be open to the possibility that the person you thought might be a good fit, actually might not be (at least for you). It's ok to change your mind and it's ok to say no.
In fact... it's ok to change your mind even after you've had a few sessions and to reach out someone new! This means you are listening to and respecting your needs - a very important part of being human.
Above all, the most important thing is to trust yourself.
I hope this info helps support you in your process of finding the right therapist for you!