6 Steps: How To Find The Right Therapist
You’ve done a Google search because it’s time. You need to find the right therapist, but there’s too many options. Too many different modalities, networks, fees, groups, and all of it feels overwhelming and daunting to wade through. If you aren’t in the mental health field, it’s difficult to know what you don’t know and what to look for.
I’ll break down the process of finding the right therapist for you so that we can narrow down your search together.
Look over your finances and find out how much you are willing to spend on therapy. Most therapists meet with their clients once a week at least to start out the treatment. Some theoretical frameworks are better meeting more frequently and others are fine every other week, but ballpark estimate for meeting with a therapist once per week.
Fees don’t determine how good a therapist is- or how experienced that therapist is. It simply is how much that therapist wants to charge for their services. Most therapists have a sliding scale fee, so if you really like their profile, but it’s over your budget for therapy, still make the phone call and see if they will allow a lower fee for you. If you decide to go through your insurance, the co-pay is determined by your insurance plan. Some fees are decided by the organization that the therapist works for. Private practice therapists’ fee is decided by the therapist. In general, pre-licensed therapists are a lower fee than licensed therapists.
3. Pre-Licensed vs. Licensed
Pre-Licensed therapists are working under the license of another therapist- their supervisor- as they accrue the hours of experience needed with clients before they get licensed. In CA, this can take 2-6 years for the 3,000 hours required for LMFTs. Don’t underestimate pre-licensed therapists- they are required during training to consult with their supervisor and other clinicians for help with their caseload and the vulnerability of being new to the field keeps them on their toes. Licensed therapists are still required to go to trainings to get continuing education credits, but aren’t required to meet with a supervisor.
4. Theoretical Framework
There’s over 300 different types of theoretical frameworks for therapy, but some are more popular than others and some are better for treating certain symptoms over others.
CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy): I would say this is the most common type of therapy because it is “evidence-based” and in the short-term it heals symptoms fast. There’s sometimes homework assigned to the client. It focuses on how your thoughts determine your behaviors. The trendy term “reframe” comes from CBT: when you think different/reframed thoughts, you will act different.
DBT (Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy): DBT is a mindfulness-based therapy that helps you to access your “wise mind” through radical acceptance of your feelings and circumstances. If you have Borderline Personality Disorder, DBT is for you. Others who might find DBT useful are those who have a hard time regulating their emotions and whose emotions change drastically all in one day.
IFS (Internal Family Systems): This is a type of experiential therapy where different “parts”/feeling states interact with each other. While different feeling states can hijack your whole internal system, IFS helps you to make decisions and manage these emotions from your SELF- which is calm, curious, caring, and the highest version of yourself.
Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic therapy: This is a type of therapy that explores your unconscious. Your therapist will not just discuss the content of what you are describing about your week, but the subconscious/unconscious meaning and feelings going on underneath the surface in order to bring it to a conscious level. When your feelings and motivations based on your past are conscious, you will have more agency over your decisions and ultimately know why you do what you do. This is a long-term therapy making connections from your past to the present. There is also a lot of work within the relationship with your therapist. Your therapist acts as a healing object of attachment so that you can work through some of the dysfunction you bring to relationships. This type of work is good for people who want long-term change, however, this work requires resilience as you uncover the layers of your unconscious that have been repressed. If you are interested in Psychoanalytic therapy, please contact me! This is the type of therapy that I provide.
EMDR and Brainspotting: While talk therapy can be a good way to treat trauma, sometimes it’s difficult to unlock the deeper emotions and raise them to awareness. EMDR and Brainspotting help you to process your emotions without having to talk- the bilateral stimulation (EMDR) or spot-gazing (Brainspotting) access a different part of the brain so that you don’t have to articulate/verbalize it to work through it.
5. Where to find therapists?
Insurance Network: you can look through the directory and bios that your insurance provides
Online Directories: Even if a therapist is part of a group, they will also have a listing on a directory. You can filter results by city, gender, theoretical framework, fees, and issues. Some directories are: Psychology Today, TherapyDen, and Theravive.
This is my last point, but may be the most important. The relationship to your therapist is the most healing part of therapy. You should know that your therapist 1. Understands you 2. Likes you. That’s more important than any sort of tool or insight that they give you. When you look at their profile and call a therapist for a consult, assess if this is someone that you will want to slowly open up to. Assess if they are friendly, disarming, and comfortable.
I’m sure I’m missing some points here, but I hope this gives you some more insight in what to look for when you are trying to find the right therapist for you. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help!