Finding the Right Therapist

12096084046_c82545a06e_z

In the journey to become a therapist it is a well-known phenomenon that a family member will inevitably say, “You could start with us!” The good-natured joke gets a laugh (the first 50 times), but at some point we have the obligation to clarify the ethical mandate: No treating friends and family. To be more specific, therapists should not see clients with whom they have a dual relationship. For example: Met in a daily yoga class, share friends or relatives, live next door to one another. The lines can get a little blurry, and in some instances dual relationships are unavoidable, but for the most part we all do our best to avoid circumstances that could lead to bias.

Over the years I have had friends and family approach me about how to find a therapist, and what they should look for. While the end decision is ultimately up to them, there are some options that can simplify the process when searching.

  1. Insurance or Cash?

Deciding this right off the bat will save you a lot of phone calls. If you are set in going through your insurance, you will want to only look at providers who are “in-network.” Your insurance company provides this list, and you can use that to narrow down. If your plan is a PPO, or you have great coverage, you can also look at providers who bill “out of network.” As a provider who does not contract with insurance companies (for reasons I can include in my next post), I always give the option of a “superbill” for PPO clients. This allows the client to receive some reimbursement directly from their insurance company. If you decide to forego using insurance, disregard the above jargon, and move to number 2.

  1. Start with a search engine

PsychologyToday.com is a great resource for narrowing down providers by region, specialty, and theoretical orientation. GoodTherapy.org is similar. There are several others, and one option is to google: Therapist finder. These sites have profiles of their therapists where you can get a feel for their personality and treatment style.

  1. What is your main reason for seeking therapy?

What are you experiencing that led you to this point? Search for someone whose specialty or area of interest is aligned with your specific need. Don’t seek out someone who works with complex trauma if you are dealing with career stress. If you are having marital distress, look for someone who specializes in couple’s therapy or relationships. All MFTs are trained in working with depression and anxiety, so if that is your area of need, you can look for someone whose message sounds welcoming to you.

  1. Choose a few

Make a list of 3-5 therapists who you think you would feel comfortable with, and start calling. Expect that most will return calls within 24 hours Monday-Friday. While most of us make it a practice to always return calls, there are some who won’t call back if they aren’t accepting new clients.

  1. Feel free to schedule with more than one therapist, and test the waters

 Studies have shown that more than anything, the most crucial aspect of therapy is the relationship. Therapists know this, and we want you to find the right fit. It is not uncommon to have a session or two to feel out the process, before committing. You will be invested in the process emotionally and financially, and you want to feel like you can share with this person. Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want, or to ask questions. We want you to get the most out of this process.

If you are starting the searching process now, good luck! If you have follow-up questions or would like more details on anything I wrote, feel free to comment.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Advertisements

Making Time

Making Time

I think it’s fair to say that as we age, the list of responsibilities grows. Growth at work takes priority, as does marriage, children, home ownership, familial obligations, and continued friendships. The tightrope walk we all manage is rarely easy, and at times exhausting. My struggle has always been where to focus my energy when I know I can’t give 100% in every area (sorry, I’m only human). I know if I try to give everything to everyone I burn out quickly and become useless to all, so much of my time is prioritized.

Learning to balance did not come naturally or easily, but it has become more of a habit, so I decided to share what my process looks like:

1. CHECK IN WITH YOU: The first step is being true to myself. Am I feeling tired? Does that project deserve my energy? Am I doing this for me or for someone else? Learn to be authentic with your own needs. They are valid.

2: PRACTICE SAYING NO: As a culture, I think this lesson is becoming more and more important. Opportunities surround us every waking second, and saying yes to it all leaves no room for recovery.

3: PRACTICE SAYING YES: This goes back to knowing yourself. At the end of a long work day, sometimes the thought of meeting up with friends can feel like too much, but it is important to maintain face to face time. See the people you love and know how they are doing. Relationships that exist solely through social media or quick text check-ins do not have the emotional connectedness that fuels us as humans. I cannot emphasize this enough: SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU LOVE.

4: CUT OUT THE JUNK: We all have certain obligations we can’t throw away, but I am talking about the things we do out of a false sense of guilt. The “frienemy” you can’t shake? Stop making time for her. The underwater basket weaving class you thought would be fun but isn’t? Stop going. When there is hardly enough time for things you want to do, eliminate the things you don’t.

5. SCHEDULE “ME” TIME: This may seem impossible for some, but what I have found is the more time I give to myself (whether it be to work out, nap, watch terrible television), the more time I want to give to others.

These are the tools I use to maintain balance. What has been helpful for you? Feel free to share in the comments!

Photo via Flickr

Calling Advice Seekers!

As you may have read in the about me section of this blog, one of my goals is to offer advice in a “Dear Jacqueline,” format. If you’ve had any questions that you didn’t want to ask friends and family about, or weren’t satisfied with the feedback you got, feel free to send it to me!

All submissions remain anonymous, and you get to do a good deed by helping me fulfill a life dream. 

Email questions to: jacquelineplante.mft@gmail.com