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How to Choose a Therapist

by Dr. Aimee Vaughn LPCC-S

Choosing a therapist can be intimidating because there are so many out there but you want to find the one that is the best fit for you. Maybe you have even had a bad experience in the past and that left you feeling more unsure about what to look for. Here are some suggestions to help you find “the one”.

Shop Around

You can use google, but sites like Psychology Today have a long list of verified providers in your area. You can narrow your search by adding specifics like male, female, veteran, online, and/or therapy approach. This will make the list somewhat more manageable. Does the person look like someone you might want to talk to? Click the profile and get more info. You can also ask around. You would be surprised by the number of people you know who have been in therapy. If you feel comfortable, reach out to trusted friends to see who they might suggest.

Gather Info

A therapist profile is going to be brief but it will give you an idea of how that person might be in interactions. Not only are therapists as people very different, but how they conduct sessions can vary as well. If there person looks like a good fit and you get a good vibe from their profile, then go to their website. That is where you are really going to get a good feel for what this person is like, what services they provide, and specialty training.

Make Contact

Most therapists can be contacted via phone or email, so reach out however is most comfortable. Be sure to leave contact information but try not to share any thing confidential because it may be unsecured. Many therapists, like myself, offer a free consult. That means you meet or talk on the phone to see if you are both a good fit for one another. My clients may have not done telehealth before, so it is a good time to see if they like the platform and feel comfortable doing therapy online. If you don’t think it is a good fit, there is no pressure to begin services. In fact, I will help people who consult find a different provider if they they need services that are outside of my scope of practice!

What if I had a bad experience with therapy in the past?

Sometimes a therapist and client just do not jive. I have had many clients over the years who at first weren’t sure about going back to therapy because of a bad experience. I encourage you to have an open mind and understand that just like all humans, there are a wide variety of therapists out there and maybe you just didn’t get the right one for you. Hopefully with some research, you will be able to find someone who is a good fit.

Commonly Asked Questions

This whole fee thing is confusing, what does it all mean?

Some therapists accept insurance and so you may be limited to certain providers. Additionally, insurance companies may limit the number of session you can have. You may be able to work out a payment schedule for after insurance does not pay.

Some therapists do not accept insurance. Many choose not to do this due to the limitations set forth by insurance companies. Some may have a firm fee and some may provide a sliding scale. A sliding scale is when a client cannot afford the therapist’s full fee and so the fee is reduced to meet the client’s means. Proof of eligibility, like a pay stub, may be required.

How many sessions should I expect?

This completely depends on your insurance and your needs. Insurance may only pay for a certain number of sessions and so you and your therapist can decide how you want to spend that time. If you are private pay it is between you and your therapist how long you will be in therapy. Some people just need a brief intervention that takes 6-8 weeks, while others spend years in therapy. You can set the pace for your treatment though.

What if I get going and I am not making progress or I don’t like my therapist?

Therapy is a deeply personal relationship and so you need to have a deep level of trust with the your therapist. If you feel like you are not making progress or don’t feel the connection you want to expect, you can talk it over with your therapist to see if they can make changes to make the session feel more productive for you.

It is also okay to decide to go with someone else. If you feel comfortable with your therapist, they may be able to help you find someone who is a good fit for you, since they have gotten to know you. You don’t have to worry about hurting your therapist’s feelings. Trust me, we have thick skin!

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