An incomplete list of things to consider when finding a psychotherapist:
1) Insurance/cost: Can the therapist take my insurance or would they be willing to do the paperwork for out of network benefits? Can I afford the co-pay and co-payments? While sometimes pricey, this is an investment in my happiness.
2) Age: I didn’t want them to be much younger or older than me so there wouldn’t be a generational gap when discussing things. Other people might have other age preferences.
3) Training: Did they have a Masters degree (2 years) or a Doctorate (5 years)? Are they licensed?
4) Gender: I prefer a female because I felt a female would understand some of my struggles being a female. Other people might have other preferences or thinking.
I had other things to qualify them as a good fit but they were mostly all things that I was flexible with.
Using the above four items, I began interviewing different therapists. Do not just start therapy with the first person you see. It is like marrying your first boyfriend/girlfriend. You have no idea who is out there. Even if you come back and see the first therapist, you need a sense of your options. Feeling like Goldilocks, I interviewed three bears. I mean psychotherapists.
Dr. Number One’s waiting room reminded me of my abuelita’s house. Although comforting in some ways, it put me on edge from memories of not wanting to break anything when I went to visit my grandmother as a child. Her therapy style got me talking, which is good, but I wondered if I was sharing too much, too quickly. I was conflicted and left the session exhausted from trying to figure out if it was okay to share or not.
Dr. Number Two was a therapist I had previously met in a different capacity. I called her since she already knew some of my back history and I felt I wouldn’t have to start from scratch. My visit with her was more like chatting with a friend about what was going on in my life. We discussed my goals for therapy. She was out of network for my insurance so we talked on how to get reimbursed for her visits. I left thinking she would be the therapist I might chose. After a long conversation with the insurance company on the next day, I found out it would be too expensive for me to see her.
Dr. Number Three was the only male therapist I called. I liked his style of our phone conversation. His office building was next to one of my favorite iconic stores in Center City. The view from his actual office was incredible but non-distracting. As he did a full intake on me to get to know me and learn what it was I wanted to work on. We stopped to talk about other things too. I felt relaxed enough to share with him, which isn’t always easy for me when talking to a stranger. As I tried to deflect certain questions with my sense of humor he returned the question with a similar sense of humor. I called my insurance company and made sure I could afford therapy with him; luckily, I could. This is how I choose Doctor Number Three.
It can be difficult to find a therapist. You don’t always get called back after an initial inquiry. There are lots of different levels of comfort with different therapists. There is a lot of insurance questions to ask. All just to find the right therapist for you. My advice is be like Goldilocks. Patiently try different things and wait to see what feels right. Don’t settle till you find a psychotherapist who feels like a good fit. Finally, it’s okay to choose a therapist that aren’t exactly what you originally thought you wanted.