More people now than in recent memory are seeking therapy. While it’s nice to know that people feel comfortable to connect with a therapist, it’s also unfortunate that so many are in need of support. During the pandemic’s height, many people felt a degree of isolation, loneliness, frustration, sadness, depression, and anxiety. Some turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, while others reached out for support. Countless lives were disrupted—and uncertainty was prevalent for far too long. Now that vaccines are widely available, case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths have dramatically decreased, people are still looking for professional support to help them process what happened, and gain new skills.
What is therapy? Therapy is a partnership between a client seeking services and a trained mental health professional who has endured years of training, supervised hours, and licensure to practice. And while there are many different modalities, styles, and techniques, most therapy sessions are designed to listen to the client and really understand their background and to identify (or help the client identify) formidable solutions.
What style/approach is right for me? Some people enjoy a therapist who is quiet, and focuses on listening (and therefore does little talking), while others prefer an “active” therapist who may frequently respond, interject, or clarify during sessions. Many therapists specialize in clients with specific niches. You may want to find a therapist that best aligns with your symptoms or reason for services. Finally, some therapists are direct, and may be confrontational, whereas others may be more reserved and want the client to make the connection.
What about specializations? Therapists see clients who have both general needs and well as specialize with specific needs and populations. If your therapy needs are very specific, consider finding a specialist, otherwise, start with a generalist and share what your seeking services for, and together the two of you can decide the goodness of fit.
What about location? Most clients prefer to live or work near their therapist for close proximity for sessions. However, with the adaptation of telehealth services, many therapists provide services to clients anywhere in the state that they practice. This helps reduce the time spent driving to/from sessions. Though it’s always important to make sure that the client has a private space where they won’t be disrupted during session.
Perhaps most important is the goodness of fit with the therapist. It’s imperative to find someone that you can share what’s really going on, build a relationship with, trust, and receive feedback that may be hard to hear. The goal of therapy is not to find a friend to listen to you and make you feel better, but to challenge your thinking and to change your behaviors.
Read part 2 of “Finding a Therapist” during our next blog post.