Choosing a therapist is a very important decision. The level of quality in your treatment depends upon the competency of your therapist, as does your expected outcomes from therapy.
Choosing a mental health professional is slightly different from choosing other kinds of health care professionals. In addition to ensuring that your therapist has the necessary credentials and experience, you must also make sure that you can interact with your therapist comfortably. This is one of the most important aspects to choosing a therapist. Therapy is not an easy process, and you must feel that your therapist respects you and you must respect and trust him or her. You must feel that you can be completely honest with your therapist or you will not get any real help. For some people, the sex of their therapist is important. They feel more comfortable with a female therapist than a male or vice versa. Other people need to relate to their therapist’s life experience. Often, in addiction therapy, a drug addict or an alcoholic feels more comfortable with a therapist who has overcome their own addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
Another important aspect to choosing a therapist is experience. You want to choose a therapist that has a lot of experience in the field that you need. Research shows better outcomes for patients when they have a therapist who has been practicing in the field for a longer time. Seek out a therapist that has specific experience with your issue. Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist about their credentials and experience. A competent therapist should never shy away from these kinds of questions.
When you are choosing a therapist, you must also consider finances. Most insurance plans cover mental health therapy. Make sure you check with your insurance company before you book an appointment with a therapist. Find out about any copays or deductibles you may have for this type of treatment. Make sure that you can afford to cover your portion of the costs of therapy.
If you are not covered by a private health insurance or employee assistance plan, be sure to ask your therapist what your out-of-pocket cost will be for therapy. Research different therapists in your community; some offer a sliding scale based on income. Community mental health centers are another option for receiving mental health treatment.
After you have decided on the type of therapist that would be right for you, you should seek out several recommendations. Your primary care physician can be of great help at this point. Other sources for recommendation include your local or state psychological association or the psychology department of a local university. You can also get recommendations about different therapists from family, friends, or acquaintances who have experienced some of the same issues that you are having.
Don’t forget that the keys to having a good therapy experience are trust, understanding, open-mindedness, and willingness. It is not an easy or simple process, but it can be a very rewarding one with the right therapist.