Finding the best therapist for you can be completely daunting.
First of all there are the questions of what are you looking for – do you need a psychiatrist, a counsellor, a psychologist, a social worker, a coach. What is the difference anyways?
Then there are all the different letters and certifications. Which is better? EMDR, EMT, ACT, CBT, DBT, or IFS? You almost need your own PhD to make sense of all the types of counselling and certifications.
To make it even more confusing, the same initials can mean completely different things. For instance, EFT often stands for Emotionally Focussed Therapy – a type of Evidence Based Therapy that is excellent for couples counselling. But it also stands for Emotional Freedom Technique, a method of tapping on acupressure points that is also helpful for a number of people, but may not help you work out that issue with your partner!
How Do You Decide?
Well fortunately for you, this very thing has been studied and the answer isn’t complicated at all. When we get past all the letters and certifications, what is at the heart and soul of it? What do people find helpful? What is it that will actually help you? This has been studied and all the research compiled into a really big book, you can get for $70 off Amazon, but I’m about to save you all that $ now. (Unless you are a therapist with any combination of letters, you should probably buy the book!)
2 Keys to Finding the Best Therapist
According to the research, what works in therapy all boils down to two things:
1. Is this person someone I think I can work with?
2. Do I think/feel like this person could help me?
Those two questions are the absolute most important questions you can ask and should come before any other consideration.
Key #1: Is this Someone I am Comfortable With?
These are the very first things you must focus on.
Do you feel comfortable with this therapist?
Do you find them relatable and authentic?
When they talk do you feel like they are a safe, helpful human that is honestly relating to you?
Do you feel heard?
You aren’t looking for a new best friend but the person in the room with you does have to be someone that you aren’t scared of. They have to be a person who is able to help you feel at ease and makes it easier to talk about your struggles.
Key #2: Do You Think it will Work?
The placebo effect is a real thing. In every scientific study, some people are given fake pills and some are given the real deal. Oddly enough, for a predictable percentage of people, the placebo absolutely does work for them. Despite what is in the pill, if people believe it is going to work , it quite often does. There is no making sense of that.
The same is true in the counselling office. You need to feel that this particular counsellor’s approach will work for you. I can tell you if you don’t like the person you are seeing, if you think it’s not going to work, it absolutely won’t. Not a chance. You can pick the best credentialed therapist on the list but if you aren’t comfortable with them for whatever reason, you are wasting your time and money.
I think this is an especially important consideration with teenagers. I always recommend that parents do some background work and narrow the field down for their child. Then they should let the child decide. The best therapist wont be effective if they, in some random way, remind your child of their creepy assistant coach.
4 Helpful Tips: Style and Connection are More Important than Methodology and Credentials
Tip #1: Research
How do you find a therapist? You do some research. Head to Psychology Today or Lumino. These are search engines designed to help you find a therapist. If you want some more tips to help with the search, here is an article you might find helpful: Finding a Therapist.
Tip #2: Get a Feel for Their Style
Be sure to go to their websites. Do they have blogs or videos where you can get a feel for their style?
By style, I am referring to what appeals to you. Some people like counsellors that are highly empathetic and leave lots of quiet space. Others prefer someone more cognitive who may be more inclined to educating them on how their brain or relationships work. Others like someone that can see the humour in the midst of the pain.
Tip #3 What Has Worked For You in the Past
Think about the kind of people that have helped you in the past. What was their most important characteristic that helped you? Was it that non-judgemental aunt? That all-wise mentor? That caring teacher? See if you can find someone with a similar vibe.
Tip #4: Sign up for Free Consults
If they offer a free consult, sign yourself up. Remember, just because you have spent 15 minutes with them doesn’t mean you are obligated to take a first appointment. Most counsellors actually want to help people that fit their style so they are not usually into high pressure sales (and beware if they are.)
I find my best clients are those that have read through some of my stuff, and something resonates with them. These are the clients, I really connect to and we are able to quickly get to deep healing work.
You can pick the best credentialed therapist but
if you aren’t comfortable with them
you are wasting your time and money.Trish White
Finding the right counsellor may be the hardest part in this whole process of changing your life but it is so worth it. Getting that outside perspective, with someone who understands where you are coming from, is invaluable to be able to make choices that move you forward.
I guarantee there is a counsellor out there that can help you. All the best in your search. It is absolutely worth it.
Trish is a counsellor who works with amazing people online or in person (if they are lucky enough to live in Kamloops and area.) She has successfully maneuvered the challenge of finding a fantastic grandparent-like therapist that works for her.
Trish can be reached at 833-630-2010 (text preferred) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org