What should I look for when choosing a therapist?March 29, 2021 No Comments How do I choose the right therapist?Choosing the right therapist involves understanding the type of therapy you are looking for.There are three things to think about when trying to find the right therapist for you;What issues you are trying to address.When you are and are not able to schedule an appointment.What personality type you are looking for in a therapist. 1. What Issues are you trying to address?First, it is important to be clear with yourself with what issues you are wanting to address. If you know that you are concerned about how much you drink, you will likely benefit more from a therapist with experience and training in dealing with problematic drinking. If you are wanting to address anxiety and perfectionism, then looking for a therapist that specializes in anxiety is important. If you are wanting to begin couples counseling, you should look for a counselor that works with couples. You will be discussing personal information with any potential therapist so its important that you go through your thoughts and feelings with your mental health professional. You will be comfortable talking with a good therapist. Think of therapists like physicians. If you have no idea what your problem is, then going to a general practitioner or a family doctor is a fine place to start. However, if you are having issues with your kidneys, then you want to see a kidney specialist. No therapist has training in all issues affecting human psychology, so finding a therapist that has specific training in your trouble is a great first step. Conversely, working with a therapist that mostly works with young children may hinder your progress. Its important to pick a therapist with the appropriate approach to therapy. 2. When you are and are not able to schedule an appointmentSecond, pragmatics are important. How frequently, you are able to meet with your therapist, what times and days you are available, and whether you want in-person or virtual appointments are all things to consider. Some therapists work on evenings and weekends. Some only conduct virtual sessions. Some don’t have enough availability in their schedule to see you weekly. Not only is the expertise of the therapist important, but so is the availability. If you can’t schedule an appointment, therapy won’t work. 3. What Personality Type are you looking for in a therapist?Lastly, the best therapy happens when the client and their therapist like each other. Decades of clinical research argues that the single most important factor in determining the effectiveness of therapy boils down to whether the client enjoys their therapist. When clients feel heard, respected, and appreciated by their therapists, and like their general approach to conversations and clinical work, then they will most-likely benefit from therapy. So, think about what personality types you tend to enjoy. Do you tend to enjoy people who are more soft and gentle or more “tough love”? Do you think you will get along better with a woman? Is the race or religion of the therapist important to you? Do you feel more comfortable around people that are similar to you in some way? It is not required that you find a therapist exactly like yourself in order for you to enjoy it. In fact, some people benefit from therapy with a therapist that is very different from them. However, if there is something really important for you in order for you to relax and trust, it is okay to look for that in a therapist. Meet the team at ALL IN - we are sure you will find a therapist that meets your personal needs. Should I choose a male or female therapist?If you have a preference for a woman simply because your last therapist was a woman, that may not be a good enough reason to exclude the many talented male therapists from your life. If you prefer to talk to a man because you a father and you want to talk to another father about parenting challenges, then that is likely a solid reason. There is no comprehensive data to support that the sex of the therapist matters in therapy’s effectiveness, or that, for example, male clients get better faster with male or female therapists. How do you talk to a therapist?While this sounds like a simple question, if you are asking it, you recognize that the answer can be a little more complicated. In short, the answer is “it depends”. What is very important is that you trust your therapist and that your therapist goes at your pace. If you feel you want to speak openly and honestly from the first session, then do that. If you want to go slow and feel the therapist out first before you start sharing big secrets, then do that. A therapist cannot force you to talk. You must be able to be your full self in your therapy session for you to get the most out of it. If your therapist gets uncomfortable or makes your feel uneasy when talking about certain topics, then the benefit you will experience from therapy will be limited. However, before you write your therapist off, you may be surprised how comfortable therapists are with hearing things. Sometimes people think they can’t talk about sex with their counselor because their counselor is an older woman and they don’t want to make the therapist feel uncomfortable. This is unfortunate, because many therapists are perfectly fine with talking about sex. If you want to swear in session, but your therapists doesn’t, you should still allow yourself to talk how you want to talk. At the end of the day, it is your therapy session and your comfort is the most important. What’s the difference between a psychologist and a therapist? Is a counselor a therapist?There are a lot of titles in the world of mental health; psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, counselor, therapist, behaviorist, psychometrist, etc. It’s easy to get lost in all of the titles and what they mean. First, the term therapist and counselor are interchangeable. So, a therapist is a counselor, and a counselor is a therapist. There are 6 main types of therapists:Psychiatrist: a medical doctor that prescribes medication and may also conduct therapyPsychologist: typically a therapist with a doctoral degree, may focus on testing and mental assessmentsMarriage & Family Therapist: a counselor that approaches mental health from a relational lens, keeping in mind the impact relationships have on mental health. May focus on family therapy or couples counseling.Mental Health Counselor: a therapist that may specialize is one or many areas of mental health.Clinical Social Worker: a therapist that may specialize is one or many areas of mental health. May focus on at-risk, vulnerable, or poor clientele.Alcohol & Drug Counselor: typically a bachelors-level counselor that focuses mostly in substance abuse treatment. That is a very overly-simplified explanation, and there is a lot of variability in each. Those are also not the only ones that conduct psychotherapy, and each of those may go by another term depending on the state they practice in. Regardless of the background, it is important for you to verify that any therapist you work with is licensed and eligible to practice. How much does the average therapy session cost?This depends on many factors, namely whether you are using insurance, the experience of your therapist, and where the therapist is located. On average, therapy tends to cost less when you are using your insurance benefits. This is because your insurance carrier may cover some or all of the cost of your session. To get the exact cost of therapy, you should call your health insurance company and ask them directly. If you are looking for a quick answer, a typical therapy session will cost usually between $20-$50 after your deductible is met, and can cost $60-200 before your deductible is met. The experience and credentials of your therapist are also important. Counselors that are new to the field tend to offer therapy at lower rates when compared to a therapist who has been practicing for 20 years. If your therapist has a doctorate, they likely will charge more than a therapist with a masters degree. Many therapists offer a sliding-scale, meaning they offer reduced-rate sessions for people experiencing financial difficulty. If there is a therapist you would like to work with, but cannot quite afford to do so, ask if they will consider accepting a lower rate. Where the therapist is located is also an important factor. A therapist in a private practice in a major coastal city will likely cost more, on average, than a therapist in a rural town. Hospitals may charge more for therapy than counselors in community clinics. While cost is certainly something you should consider when picking a therapist, the cheapest therapist may not inherently be the best fit for you. What do I do if I don’t like my therapist?Life is too short for bad therapy, and your goals are too important to waste doing therapy that doesn’t benefit you. Before you choose a different therapist, bring up your concerns and complaints with your current therapist. Often times, counselors are not aware that a thing they do, or a question they asked, impacted the client as much as it did. Also, sometimes clients give off an impression that is confusing to the therapist so the therapist may believe the client prefers sessions a certain way when they, in fact, don’t. Some of the best therapeutic relationships come from the client and counselor addressing and working through those challenges. So, bring up your concern directly. Most therapists are pretty easy to talk to and welcome these conversations. If you do get to the point where you do not believe you are not and will not benefit from therapy, then you should consider working with someone else. There are many, many talented, creative, and helpful therapists out there that have availability on their schedule. We at ALL IN have heard many horror stories about counselors who did terrible things, or who were simply unprofessional. As stated above, the single most important factor in determining whether counseling will be effective is related to the therapist/client relationship. If the relationship is bad, and cannot get better, it is often best to end. References:Horvath, A. O. (2005). The therapeutic relationship: Research and theory: An introduction to the Special Issue. Psychotherapy Research, 15(1-2), 3-7.Keijsers, G. P. J., Schaap, C. P. D. R., & Hoogduin, C. A. L. (2000). The impact of interpersonal patient and therapist behavior on outcome in cognitive-behavior therapy: A review of empirical studies. Behavior Modification, 24(2), 264-297.Pikus, C. F., & Heavey, C. L. (1996). Client preferences for therapist gender. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 10(4), 35-43.Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people's lives through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. We publish quality material for your own education. Our publications are researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.