How to Find a Therapist: The Guide You Shouldn’t Miss

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Key Takeaways

  • Identify your therapy needs to find the right specialist for you.
  • Use directories, insurance lists, referrals, and recommendations to find therapists.
  • Prepare for your first appointment by reflecting on goals and filling paperwork.
  • Online therapy platforms offer convenient, accessible mental health services.

If you have taken the first step and identified a need for help, you may be wondering where to start when it comes to finding a therapist to help you.

In this article, we will be discussing where to begin on this journey, and how to find the right person for you. We’ll also be discussing:

  • Types of therapists and counselors
  • How to find the right therapist
  • How to prepare for your first appointment
  • Online therapy tools and platforms

Let’s get into it!

Types of Therapists and Counselors

Clinical Psychologist

A clinical psychologist is a trained professional who can assess, diagnose and treat mental health conditions. However, they cannot prescribe medications.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a trained doctor who can diagnose and treat mental health conditions. They can prescribe medications and refer you to the right mental health services.

Counselor

A counselor is someone who is trained to provide a range of counseling services.

Counselors often specialize in a field, such as in addiction counseling, grief counseling, or family counseling, for example.

Social Worker

Social workers are people who help with the more practical side of mental health struggles.

This includes helping people access different resources in the community, as well as navigating housing, disability and income support.

They also act as great advocates for your health.

Marriage and Family Therapist

A marriage, or family therapist specializes in helping people with relationship troubles and breakdowns.

This includes anything from partner therapy, to family therapy which can also include extended family members.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatrist nurse practitioners work in similar ways to psychiatrists, but have a slightly smaller scope of practice.

This means they can diagnose some conditions, and prescribe some medication.

Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist is someone who has a background in psychology, counseling, social work, or psychiatry and works together with you to work through mental health concerns though therapy.

Pastoral care

Pastoral counseling is a type of faith-led counseling which is provided by workers in the Church.

It involves using religious principles to help people with mental health worries.

How to Find a Therapist

Finding a therapist may seem challenging at first, but if you know what to look for, the process can be a lot more simple.

1. Identifying Your Needs

The first thing to do is to identify your needs.

This involved having an honest conversation with yourself about what your concerns are, and what you would like therapy to achieve.

For some people this is anxiety or depression, for others it is about dealing with addiction, trauma or work issues for example.

There is no one reason for therapy, but identifying some of the main goals will help you find the right therapist.

2. Research

Once you have established your treatment goals, you can start researching therapists who specialize in that field.

It is also good to have some idea of the different therapy approaches, to see which one aligns with your personality and needs best.

There are some useful resources you can use to do this including:

  • Online therapist directories such as Psychology Today 
  • Insurance provider lists of therapists
  • Recommendations from friends and family
  • Community health services

Referrals

Before choosing the right therapist, you may benefit from getting a referral.

However, note that not all psychologists, or therapists require referrals.

A great place to start is making an appointment with your family doctor.

They will help you find the right therapist for your needs, and often have contacts with trusted mental health workers.

Friends and family are often a great tool to use when looking for recommended mental health workers.

This also adds an element of trustworthiness you feel before meeting the person, making it easier to open up.

Consultation Calls

Many people like to make initial consultation calls with the therapist before booking appointments.

This is not always necessary, but helps to assess compatibility before committing to more appointments.

How To Prepare for Your First Appointment

Preparing for your first appointment may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

Whilst you can turn up to an appointment without any preparation at all, following these steps will help put you at ease, and get the most out of your first appointment.

  • Fill in any paperwork you are given prior to the appointment
  • Reflect on your reasons for seeking therapy
  • Write down any specific goals or concerns you have
  • Prepare a brief summary of your personal history and relevant experiences
  • Consider what you hope to gain from therapy
  • Prepare any questions you may have about the process
  • Be open to discussing your emotions and experiences
  • Arrive with an open mind and willingness to engage in the process

Online Therapy Platforms

Many people are surprised to learn that you can access high quality therapy online.

Online mental health services include anyone from doctors/psychiatrists to licensed counselors.

They are a great resource if you are struggling to find a therapist in your area, or are short on time.

Online therapy platforms allow you to access mental health services from the comfort of your own home.

This is often ideal for people who have challenges with accessibility, or busy work/family schedules.

Some reputable online therapy platforms include:

Conclusion

Working out where to start when it comes to looking for a therapist does not need to be complicated.

By following this guide, you will be able to take the stress off finding the right therapist for you.

It is important to note that not every therapist will be right for you.

For many people, finding the right therapist involved meeting a few, to find the right one.

When looking for a therapist, remain open-minded, and do not lose hope if the person you met is not someone who you click with. It is a process.

And remember, seeking help for your mental health is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing.

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