Tips from Mental Health Professionals on Finding the Right Therapist
Going into therapy might seem like a daunting task to most people as the practice still isn't as mainstream as it should be. So, where does one begin, and how do you find the perfect therapist for you?
Finding the right therapist for you personally can be difficult when you haven't taken the time to analyze exactly what you're looking for. It's already confusing enough since there are several professionals in the mental health field.
We have counselors, psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, and so much more. However, if you've decided you're looking for a therapist, in particular, how do you go about finding your right fit?
Professional psychologist conducting a consultation with a blurry-looking client | Photo: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych
USING ONLINE CHANNELS
Mental health professionals spoke to different outlets to advise on deciding which therapist is best for you. One of the channel's suggestions was to Google it even though you'd have to wade through sponsored adverts and such.
Things one should take into account in the search is whether the person you want speaks the language you desire. Where the professional is based should also be factored in because you don't want to find yourself traveling long hours for a session.
A professional psychologist taking notes while speaking to a client who is lying on a couch | Photo: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Plus, some therapists offer online sessions, so that's another factor you could consider, whether you want to have face-to-face sessions or prefer the safety and comfort of your home via online sessions.
Another thing to take note of is whether you can afford the sessions. If money is a problem, you might want to look into organizations that give free trials or budget therapy sessions.
A counselor speaks at group counseling therapy session | Photo: Shutterstock/fizkes
Free trials are a great way of figuring out what you like and dislike without having to spend much. One might also want to check what qualifications the mental health professional holds, with therapist Shweta Srinivasan stating to Vogue India:
“The minimum qualification in India for a therapist is a Master's degree.”
Shweta Srinivasan is a therapist and co-founder of The Mind Clan. Her organization is an inclusive platform that assists with sourcing therapists and mental health resources, with Srinivasan noting how therapy wasn't a one-size-fits-all approach.
Besides their qualifications, one might also want to look into how much experience the therapist has. However, it's important to note that having more experience as a therapist doesn't automatically guarantee the best service.
A headshot of a woman shouting with her mouth wide open | Photo: Pixabay/Engin Akyurt
The founder of Rethink Reach Out, Anushka Mehta, noted to the publication that an older therapist might struggle to understand a client from the younger generation. The mental health advocate created her platform after struggling with depression and anxiety in her college years.
DON'T SHY AWAY FROM QUESTIONS
After you've found the potential therapist you wish to work with, please don't be shy to ask them further questions. Srinivasan shared how some professionals had introductory sessions to check if the therapist holds the same values as you do.
Here you can find out their thoughts on politics, families, gender, sexual identities, ideas on religion, and so forth. Experts suggest you clear all these so you can feel safe and comfortable to open up to your therapist to get the most out of your sessions.
Srinivasan also acknowledged how clients tend to put therapists on pedestals without asking them difficult questions. She said questioning your therapist allowed the power to be put back into the client's hands.
Psychologist Alice Shepard from the healthcare company Sesame said the best starting point to finding the right therapist was to share one's goals early on. This would allow the therapist to get a sense of who you are.
Mental health expert having an online therapy session with a client via a laptop | Photo: Shutterstock/fizkes
DO IT LIKE SPEED DATING
Speaking to "Good Morning America" licensed therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab said finding the right therapist could be done like the process used in speed dating. The relationship expert suggested figuring it out in 15 to 20 minutes via video or phone.
The New York Times bestselling author, Tawwab, said you could talk to potential therapists during the quick sessions to determine which one worked for you. Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan advised clients not to expect immediate resonance from the start.
Keohan noted how it took time to find a good fit. Her Talkspace colleague, Kate Rosenblatt, suggested doing a pre-interview to ask questions like what the therapy would look like, have they worked with people in similar situations, and what were the outcomes?
Professionals recommend having at least three sessions before deciding if the therapist is or isn't suitable for you. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that one of the most common reasons people left therapy was "unrealistic assumptions."
An unhappy and stressed out businessman sitting with his head in hands on the bed in a dark bedroom | Photo: Shutterstock/TZIDO SUN
According to Ishita Gupta, a practicing psychologist and founder of Breakthrough Counselling, changing therapists was typical, quite normal, and a common practice for clients. Gupta said it was possible to outgrow your longtime therapist.
Mehta added that one needed the right therapist at the right time; otherwise, they could either become beneficial or redundant at some point. During these times of the pandemic, the need for therapy has risen, but what are the effects of COVID-19?
MENTAL HEALTH IN TIMES OF COVID
The Times's "Well" columnist Tara Parker-Pope surveyed on November 9, 2021, to determine the long-lasting mental health implications of COVID-19. She also wanted to know how mental health professionals were coping as they focused on helping others.
A week after the survey went out, 1,320 therapists had answered 15 multiple-choice questions. The publication learned that nine out of 10 therapists said more and more clients were seeking care.
Young Indian businesswoman wearing wireless headsets while talking to someone else on a video call | Photo: Shutterstock/fizkes
One in seven respondents said racial justice issues were the top reasons clients sought therapy. Even though therapists reported being burnt out, the positive part was that the stigma around therapy was reduced!
Washington, D.C. social worker, Karen Hahn, noted to AARP that our brains weren't designed to function under the chronic stress we were currently experiencing because of the pandemic.
Hahn revealed that she personally increased the dosages of the antidepressants she took to lift herself out of the depression worsened by the latest strain, Omicron. She confessed that she found herself napping on days when she could be walking outside.
In 2021, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine said it received 1,027,381 calls. The numbers were up by 23 percent compared to 2020, and call volumes increased by 27 percent in 2019.
An unhappy male patient balancing his chin on his hand while listening to a psychiatrist for advice | Photo: Shutterstock/fizkes
TOP 10 ONLINE THERAPY PLATFORMS
Healthline compiled the top 10 online therapy platforms, with the best overall being Talkspace. The largest network of licensed counselors was BetterHelp, and Online-Therapy.com had the best online therapy for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The best platform for physical and mental health was Amwell, while MDLive was rated the best one for online psychiatry. People could look at 7 Cups for the best budget, and ReGain was named the best for couple's therapy.
Teenagers could opt for Teen Counseling for their needs, while Pride Counseling was named the best for the LGBTIQ+ community. Lastly, the best online therapy for single video sessions was Doctor on Demand.
The publication also analyzed what each platform brought to the table, including the mental health issues they focused on, when the platform is available, how much it costs, and its pros and cons.
The latter could be associated with disorders like schizophrenia.
Forbes Health also began the year by looking into the best online therapy platforms for 2022. Some of the ones mentioned earlier were listed, including a brief description of what they offered, prices, and so forth.
A black-and-white close-up image of a woman looking ashamed | Photo: Pixabay/Małgorzata Tomczak
However, in addition, Forbes Health also mentioned a few new others, including Cerebral, HealthSapiens, and Brightside. The publication also noted the health benefits of having online sessions compared to physical ones.
BENEFITS OF ONLINE THERAPY
Forbes Health said a study found that patients who participated in internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy treatment for depression had fewer symptoms three months after treatment ended than those attending in-person therapies.
The study also discovered that the in-person group tested experienced worsening symptoms. However, a disadvantage was that demand was more significant than the supply causing patients to wait for therapists to become available.
CANDIDATES FOR ONLINE THERAPY
People who would benefit highly from online therapy sessions include those needing assistance with mental health issues. These include depression and anxiety, to name a few.
However, it was noted that some issues and disorders could be better suited for online therapy compared to others. For instance, body image and guilt issues could be tackled via virtual treatment.
According to a Journal of Clinical Psychology study, the children of alcoholics and people seeking personal growth could benefit significantly from attending online therapy sessions.
ISSUES NOT SUITED FOR VIRTUAL THERAPY
Issues best-tackled face-to-face include suicidal thoughts, unmonitored medical issues, borderline personality disorders, and thought disorders, including those with symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking.
The latter could be associated with disorders like schizophrenia. Online sessions are also not good if it's for an urgent crisis; one is required to attend by the court or other authority, not having a reliable internet connection, and a minor under the care of a legal guardian.
The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on WomanlyLive.com, or available through WomanlyLive.com is for general information purposes only. WomanlyLive.com does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.