Beyond the stigma of therapy participation, there is a bigger challenge in FINDING THE RIGHT THERAPIST. As a therapist, I am aware that the most valuable part of treatment with a client and the best indicator of success is the therapeutic alliance. This alliance is measured by the patient’s perception of their relationships with the therapist, and is important in the patient’s willingness to share and engage in the therapeutic process.
Part of what builds a great alliance is your therapist's ability to meet your mental health needs. Sounds obvious right? Most everyone, if not all of those seeking therapy, are looking for a safe space, free of judgement and bias. However, it can be even more daunting to access mental health resources especially when you have complex neurocognitive needs and/or a complex trauma history. Often, it takes a lot of courage to seek help and find the right therapist with whom you can trust to share your story.
The following are tips that I have for choosing the right therapist and resources for where to look:
Where do I start?
A great place to start would be talking to your primary doctor (if you have trust in them) … it can be useful to get a referral to a psychiatrist and/or neurologist who can provide an in-depth evaluation and diagnosis especially for neurocognitive disorders.
Talking with a child psychiatrist … A lot of neurocognitive disorders like ADHD and/or Autism that are more likely to be diagnosed in childhood can be helpful to speak about with someone who may have a better grasp on the issue if you are an adult who was never diagnosed.
Your friends and/or family - Asking a trusted friend or family member who may also have a good relationship with a therapist can be helpful, as they know your personality and story and can identify a provider who may be a good fit.
Psychology Today - the Psychology Today website - www.psychologytoday.com - has a list of providers in your area, that includes their bios and specialities and can be a good resource for finding a therapist.
What kind of Therapist should I seek?
Therapeutic approach is important! Most great therapists when questioned about their approach to treatment should be stating techniques that involve …
Looking out for specialities - Take some time to think about what kind of treatment you are looking for. Are you hoping to work with someone who treats a variety of symptoms - anxiety - depression, or has experience with a specific niche of treatment - childhood trauma, ADHD, post-partum depression etc? Someone with a specific type of speciality may be more apt to meet your needs than someone who is a generalist and works with all different types of symptoms and disorders.
It’s okay to break-up with Your therapist - Do not be afraid to interview a couple of therapists and ask about experience, approach to treatment and what they have to offer you in terms of healing and resolution. If after the first initial sessions, you do not make a connection it is okay to move on! Continuing with a therapist with whom you don’t mesh or don’t feel comfortable or safe, can do more harm.
Seeking therapy is brave and courageous and the greatest form of self-care. Finding the right therapist is key in helping you through your healing journey.
Simone Ingram MSW,LCSW