Updated: Jan 17
Step 3. Research
We do this for everything nowadays. Need a new teapot? Read 20 reviews for 10 different teapots before you—maybe—make a decision. Of course, you may not be that kind of person; you may mosey to the store and grab the first teapot you see. Finding a therapist can go both of these ways.
Now is the time for those "W" questions. Who What Where When Why and the elusive How. You may not be able to answer all of them, but coming to some kind of understanding of a few of them will be helpful to narrow your search.
You know what you’re looking for—therapy and a therapist. But what kind of therapist?(this would answer the how.)
Therapists practice from many different theoretical orientations— too many to list here (I smell another post), but you may be able to answer some basics. Do you want a therapist who uses creative arts? Do you want a therapist who uses a system to treat a specific symptoms? Do you want traditional talk therapy? This is bridging us toward the who.
Because therapy works in mysterious ways, it may be important that you think about the demographics of the therapist (age, presenting and/or identifying gender, race, ethnicity). As therapists, we take care to check inherent biases on a frequent basis. But as a client? That’s not your job. Demographics of your therapist could be important for the type of help you want to receive as it is your job to project preconceived notions on to your therapist and later discuss them.
Hopefully, where is a little more black and white. Prior to this beautiful year (2020), it was typical that you commute to your therapist’s office for an hour. In light of recent events, some therapists continue to work in an office and sanitize often. Some therapists are holding outdoor sessions. Many therapists are working virtually; over the phone, or via video conferencing. Sometimes, therapists come to your home, depending on your circumstances. If symptoms are more pervasive, you may be interested in short term, daily outpatient programs or even inpatient rehabilitation or hospitalization.
Outside of intensive outpatient and inpatient, a therapist is most likely someone you see once per week. What is your schedule like? Do you need early morning hours? Evening hours? Weekends? This when often dictates who you will be able to work with as many therapists are available during "normal" business hours. However, much of the population, both therapists and clients, have non-traditional schedules.
Why always feels like such a loaded question. So often the answer to “why?” is “I don’t know” because it’s just so big. In the previous post, we briefly discovered that a ‘why’ for therapy can simply be existence. However, if you know you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, difficulty managing anger, dissociation, trauma responses, insomnia, inattentiveness, impulsivity, or sexual issues (to name a few), it may be time to to begin your search.
As with most of my posts, this is not a comprehensive list of all of the questions you could be asking yourself when you start to look for psychotherapy. However, because there is always more to add, it's beneficial to let ourselves finish things! Next week, we'll review some of the administrative details of looking for a therapist.