Therapy is such a powerful and important resource for awareness, growth, healing, and transformation; to better understand ourselves and experience life in the way we are desiring. Sometimes taking that very first step, or thinking about starting over with a different therapist, can be overwhelming and debilitating. I want to offer some helpful tips and reminders when you’re searching for a therapist, to help you feel more at ease, inspired, and motivated.
Let’s dive in!
- First off, it’s important to check in with your mindset and relationship to therapy. There is no shame in seeking or asking for help. You are not supposed to figure everything out and go through life all on your own! Therapy can be such a great resource to provide a completely objective point of view, and someone trained to help you navigate and support you in the process of healing and growing. Try and welcome in the perspective that going to therapy is an incredible act of self-care and self-love, and can be just the thing you need to get past your hurdles and experience change.
- If a therapist offers a free phone consultation prior to making a first appointment, remember that it’s a two-way interview. Before the call, determine what’s important to you in a therapist, and then use the call to communicate what you’re wanting and needing, and learn about their approach and experience. Do they seem like a good fit? How is the energy? Ask for their honest opinion if they can help you at this time, and if they’re hesitant or say no, be grateful they’re honoring their own boundaries and saving you time. And you might not know if it’s a good fit or not until you try a few sessions.
- It might take you a few times to find the right therapist for your current needs and desires. It can be a bit like dating! To help take the pressure off the process, know it might take you a few tries to find the right one, and go in with an open mind to avoid seeking “the perfect one”. It might feel a bit discouraging as you feel yet again, you haven’t found the right one, but if you’re not happy, please please please continue your search. It can be a night and day difference when you find someone you can connect well with!
- Your therapist and the process of therapy should be helpful. You shouldn’t be leaving every appointment scratching your head, wondering what you actually got out of the session. Of course, it might take some time to get through the “getting to know you” beginning phase, as the first handful of appointments might feel like you are just giving background on yourself. But ultimately, you should feel supported and benefit from your time together. Not every session will be an incredible breakthrough, but it should be moving forward. This seems obvious, but I can speak from personal experience that I went too long seeing a therapist who honestly didn’t really help me.
- Therapy should be a space where you feel safe, seen, heard, valued, and prioritized. Period. You should not feel judged, attacked, dismissed, or ignored. A bit of tough love, hard truths, helpful feedback, and accountability can all play important roles within therapy (and coaching!), and if you’re particularly closed off, these things might feel like you’re being attacked. But really try and notice the difference when you’ve been given statements and questions from a place of loving support, or not. And don’t be afraid to address and talk about it with your therapist! Afterall, honesty and transparency is all part of the process.
- Trust your intuition. If something feels off and you continually feel the urge to move on, then it might be time to do just that. You’re in control.
- Just because you’ve been seeing a therapist for a while doesn’t mean you have to stay with them forever. I know it might feel like they might know all there is to know about you, and starting over with someone new feels overwhelming, but your needs and life are constantly changing. You’re always in control, and if you’re wanting or needing someone new and different, that’s perfectly ok! Sometimes a fresh set of eyes and ears can provide a whole new set of perspectives and guidance that can be so helpful.
- If it’s not the right fit, a good therapist should support you in the process of finding someone who would be more fitting for your current needs and desires, even going so far as to make recommendations and help you search. You shouldn’t feel judged or shamed for this decision, and your therapist should have YOUR best interest in mind.
- Just because you leave a therapist, doesn’t mean you can never go back. And again, you shouldn’t feel judged for wanting to try someone new, or for taking a break.
- Don’t lose hope! You deserve the absolute best. Be patient and continue taking things step by step; every action taken (big or small) is important progress made.
For more practical tips on how to strategically find a therapist, check out this blog post HERE.
I hope this was helpful! This post was inspired by my recent journey with therapy this year. I moved on from my first therapist after 3 sessions, trusting my intuition that I deserved better. I stayed with my next one for too long, where I felt judged and didn’t love what I was getting out of the sessions. I left every time with a little pit in my stomach and frustrated at the situation, but thinking “it’s better than nothing, right?”. Finally one day, I realized it is NOT supposed to be this way, and I should actually LIKE my therapist! After searching for a bit, I tried my third therapist this year, and our very first session together was a night and day difference. I felt so supported, valued, and that I was the priority. I look forward to our sessions every time!