These days information is at our fingertips. Just open the ol’ internet app and start tapping! But seeing something in print doesn’t make it true (hello there fake news). The same is true when it comes to finding a therapist. Just because a business or provider comes up first on internet searches, doesn’t mean s/he is credible or the best fit for you. Heck, it could just mean they paid a really good marketing company!
Let me share a few helpful tips on how to find a good therapist:
Education, Training & Credibility: You’ll want to know about a provider’s education and training. In the State of Colorado, this is important because it’s one of a few states allowing well-meaning folks to provide therapy services as a ‘registered psychotherapist’ with no formal education or training in providing therapy. Compare this to practitioners with a master’s degree who complete two to three years of education and have two years post-graduation of supervised practice before earning a license as a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, or a licensed clinical social worker. Contrast this with the highest possible license in the field of mental health - a licensed psychologist. A licensed psychologist has completed extensive education and training (an average of 5 years) culminating in a Ph.D. or Psy.D degree. Then there is another year or two of post-graduation supervised work required before earning a license! Ask about education and training before agreeing to be a client. Be an informed consumer! A provider who hides a lack of experience or education is not someone to seek out for support.
Skills & Knowledge: Mental health professionals are a very diverse crowd. Some were trained and educated to only help certain age groups (e.g., children) and others trained to be generalists with specialties (e.g., capable of treating all ages). Beyond who they can treat, many professionals have specialty interests and training with certain challenges. For instance, some therapists are trained in very specific models of practice (e.g., experts in treating anxiety with panic attacks; only work with couples). Others are trained to work in a more dynamic, relationship manner that involves less “homework and tools” and more of a focus on understanding the self and how a person relates to others. And there are many mental health providers who approach therapy from an integrated viewpoint. What’s that mean exactly? An integrated approach means the therapist has a core theoretical foundation of understanding how clients get better but draw on a number of interventions best fit to each client. Not sure what type of therapist is right for you? Most provide a brief phone or in-person consultation for just this reason. One of the benefits of talking with a variety of mental health providers is finding the best fit for the issues you want to change. Understand the therapist’s training and how it relates to what they provide…and does it match with the reasons for seeking therapy services.
Comfort & Connection: One of the biggest factors in how successful a client is in therapy is the strength of the relationship with the therapist. Numerous scientific studies have shown that time and time again, improvement in mental health (e.g., feeling less depressed, better stress management, improved romantic relationships) is positively related to how the client feels he relates or “works” with his therapist. Simply put, a client should feel their therapist has ‘their back’ and s/he does their best to help the client feel better and create tangible life changes. In turn, the client trusts the therapist enough to be vulnerable and do their therapeutic work. Give yourself a gut check: After talking with a potential provider did you feel comfortable? Would you want to meet with s/he again? If not, keep searching!
Smooth Rock Psychological Services, LLC