How to choose a therapist

It can be difficult to know where to begin in the search for a therapist. You might have an idea of what you’re looking for – ranging from general impressions (someone younger/older, someone who grew up in the same area, someone who shares parts of your identity) to more specific nuances (someone who shares your obsession with Star Wars and may even understand how that one person in your life is a TOTAL Jar Jar Binks! – and not in the cool “secret Sith” sort of way). But, just as likely, you might be completely unsure of the person you’re looking for; hoping you’ll just know that you’ve found the right therapist when you find them.
Because the process of therapy, and therefore finding a therapist itself, is so personal, there’s no check-the-box process to identify the perfect therapist – mainly because the perfect therapist for you isn’t the perfect therapist for everyone else. However, there are some basic elements to consider and ask about when searching for a therapist:
  • The specific challenge bringing you or your youth to therapy: Many therapists work with a range of clients, and, because therapists generally love people (it is the reason we chose this profession, after all), we can find ways to adapt and respond to individual needs. That being said, therapists are still people themselves, and we probably have a specific age range, challenge, or need that we are especially skilled at supporting clients through. At C.H.E.R.I.I.S.H. Counseling, our therapists specialize in work with pre-teens, teens, and young adults. We do work outside that range at times, but it’s the area we are especially gifted at working in – helping young people and young adults navigate challenges, transitions, and social relationships, while also figuring out who they are, what that means, and how that impacts their interactions with others.  
  • The therapist’s personality (and your own or that of your youth):  Is this someone you or your youth can imagine sitting across from? Research has repeatedly shown that the relationship between you and your therapist is key in helping you achieve your goals. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, this relationship is more important than the specific questions your therapist asks and more important than the exact skills you may learn in therapy; as such, it’s vital for you to consider. You may find a therapist who specializes in supporting young adults, youth, or families through your exact situation, but if you never feel connected to a shared sense of humor, never feel that they “get” you or take time to listen, or feel like you understand the world in totally different ways — then you are not going to make the progress you could with someone else. With that said, there are absolutely moments of mismatch in even the best therapist-client relationships; we’re all humans and sometimes misunderstand each other, but your therapist should be someone that you generally feel more connected to than not. 
  • Insurance – Do you want to use it?: This may seem like an obvious question – many people who have insurance want to maximize its use. However, there are some important things for you to consider. Insurance companies require that your therapist provide a mental health diagnosis that the insurance company keeps on file. The insurance company may also limit the number of sessions that you can receive or the frequency and length of your sessions. To access benefits through your insurance, you do sacrifice some privacy, and it’s important to consider the cost and benefit of this thoughtfully.
Once you have an idea of the therapist you’re looking for, ask around – your doctor, your child’s school counselor, your friend, your family member, your pastor – all of these people may have suggestions for someone they’ve worked with before, and this can be a helpful place to start. If you tried asking around and didn’t get any closer to finding a therapist, or it felt daunting to ask others about their experiences with therapists, there are some great online resources for finding a therapist. You can check online directories like Psychology Today or TherapyDen or you could also call your insurance company for referrals (if you’ve decided you want to use your insurance).
So you think you’ve found the right fit! Now what?
  • Call the therapist! At C.H.E.R.I.I.S.H. Counseling, we offer a free 20-minute phone consultation. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions, hear our voices on the phone, and get to know us a little bit better. You might want to ask questions about fees, schedule availability, our approaches to certain mental health needs, or if we love animals as much as you do (the answer is YES!). This phone call is also a chance for us to learn about you and what you’re hoping to gain through therapy. If you’re calling to find a therapist for your youth, it may also be helpful for them to talk with us on the phone. If we think that someone else might be a better fit for you (Remember those specialities I mentioned earlier?), we will connect you with that person. We want to ensure that you find the right fit, and we know that sometimes one of our fantastic colleagues might have the perfect skill set for you! However, if we’re both feeling like this is a good fit at the end of the phone call, things are jiving and we want to meet in person, we can schedule a first appointment right then and start working together!
Looking for a therapist can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. We are happy to help you navigate this process and begin your healing journey to make the growth and changes you’re longing for.  Call us today at 971-220-2496 or 971-220-1495 to learn more about our counseling services for pre-teens, teens, and young adults!

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Featured Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash