I put off finding a therapist for years. Although I talked about going, it stressed me out to actually find someone. Why should I pay to talk to someone? What will I say that’s worth the money and time? When should I go, now or wait it out? Where do I find a good therapist?
From Google searches to my insurance database, the results just made me feel like I’d be meeting a stranger going in with more anxiety than I could handle. However, finding a therapist for the first time is easier than anticipated.
Below you’ll see some of the steps I took when finding a therapist. I’m completely new to this, so please research more about the therapy you need and your preferences. My process may not work for everyone, but I’m sure it can help someone find a therapist that works well for them!
1 – Consider The Treatment Method
The first step is to understand what you’re looking for out of therapy. There are many different professionals to seek based on your needs, such as a clinical psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist. Understand your specific concerns and seek the help that best suits your needs.
You also may want to consider who you’re looking for which could be aspects such as their gender, location, setting, etc. You want to make sure you’re comfortable seeing this person regularly. If cities are dreadful, you may not want to get a therapist smack dab in the center of one.
2 – Ask Friends & Family For Recommendations
Therapy should not be something you’re afraid to discuss with others. If anything, we could all use therapy even just to have someone to help us process things in life. The best way to start is to ask people you know if they could recommend any therapists or good resources to find one.
When I was trying to find a therapist, I asked my sister-in-law and my mom. I specified that I’d prefer to speak to a woman, as I feel more comfortable being open with them versus speaking to men. They both offered suggestions, I researched each and picked who sounded like her areas of focus met my needs.
3 – Check Your Insurance Plan Or Payment Options
Once I found a therapist to try, I checked within my insurance plan to see if she took mine. I know that the cost of it can be a determining reason not to go, as it can get very expensive. If your insurance does not cover the cost of therapy, there are still other resources.
Some therapists offer lower rates for group sessions. Others work in community centers that may offer low-cost services. If these aren’t an option, you may be able to find a counselor in training in need of a minimum amount of hours before they get licensed. They typically will offer lower rates as they’re still trainees.
If you’re comfortable seeking therapy online, there are also a few options that have proven to be beneficial for people, a large part due to being accessible. You can try Talkspace starting at $65 per week, or BetterHelp starting at $40 per week. You’ll be connected with a therapist either in text, audio or video chat format. A lot of this takes place in messaging because you can message as often as needed. Research both to see what would be a better fit for your preferences and needs.
4 – Speak On The Phone For A Consult First
When my therapist wanted to schedule a call to chat, I got nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. The initial phone call is typically free and lasts about 15 minutes. You will share about your background, issues you may be struggling with, or what you’re hoping to get out of therapy. The conversation actually flowed naturally for me because I felt relaxed and comfortable.
If you do not feel comfortable, or the conversation feels off, it’s okay to not schedule an appointment. This consult is to make sure you’re willing to speak and heal with this person. You can always search for another therapist to see if someone may be a better fit for you.
5 – Go to Your First Visit
I wasn’t sure how my first visit would go because I’d never really discusses all my problems at once. Instead, she asked “how is your week going?” At the time, I was stressing out about a certain issue and my inability to make a decision. We discussed it in detail and the conversations that flowed after came naturally.
During your first visit, you may feel there are moments of silence or that you don’t know what to say. It happens. This is a new experience and being open can be hard with someone you just met. If you do feel that you’re very uncomfortable, interrupted often, or your therapist is talking more than you, it’s okay to seek a different person after.
Another important factor of the cost is the frequency of visits. Instead of going once a week, you may be able to go once every other week or once a month. Your first visit is the time to discuss how often they believe is good for you and you to speak your preferences. If they seem to be unwilling to help with your schedule and costs, it may not be the best fit.
You also have to understand that the therapy can last as long as it takes for you to feel confident that you’ve developed the skills to cope, or your goals have been met. Discuss with your doctor what is the best timeline for you.
6 – Be Open
In both my therapy and life coach sessions, I got the most out of it by being completely open. I did not think about what was best to say, but what I was feeling or thinking. The fear of judgement goes out the window, as I trust my therapist to have my best interest at heart.
It helps to find someone who has an interest to learn more about you. If you don’t feel a genuine connection where you can be yourself, it’s okay to try elsewhere.
I know that it can feel overwhelming to find a therapist and meet them for the first time. It takes courage to step outside your comfort zone, lay it all out there and accept help to better yourself.
By finding a therapist, you’ll be on the right path to connecting with someone that will help you heal, learn to cope better and reach new goals. My hope for you is that this step leads you to new ones of personal growth and happiness!
Have any other things to expect for a first time therapy visit? Share with us in the comments.