How do I find the right therapist for me?
First you're overwhelmed with whatever is going on in your life right now, and then you have to search for a therapist and hope you get someone you can trust, someone you can connect with, and most of all, someone who will actually help you, not just nod their head and say, "how does that make you feel?" or "I understand." That sounds like a big job.
There are a few things to look for:
Is the counselor qualified? Look for a Master's Degree and Licensure as either a Mental Health Counselor or Social Worker. All the credential letters can be confusing, but these are the most common in Florida:
- LMHC = Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Then there are derivatives of these for interns (which will be more affordable although a little less experienced) such as RMHCI, Registered Mental Health Clinical Intern. There is also a derivative for counselors transferring their license from another state while they complete additional Florida requirements such as PMHC, Provisional Mental Health Counselor Licensee.
- Read the counselor's bio on Psychology Today, facebook page, or website. Do they sound like a good fit? Does it sound like they have some experience working with the issues you're facing?
- Find out if the counselor takes your insurance or has a payment plan that works for you. See if they have any openings at a time that work for you.
- Ask about the counselor's style and framework for therapy. If they are very focused on worksheets and you just want someone to listen, it's not going to be a great fit, unless they're willing to accommodate your desires, which many therapists are. Give feedback and make your preferences known. You can find out more about some of the frameworks therapists use here.
After that, it's kind of like dating - you meet the person and see if they're a good fit. Some counselors offer the option of a shorter, and less expensive, initial session called a consultation to give you the opportunity to see if it's a good fit for you. Ask for this if you're unsure. Be aware that although it's less expensive, a consultation session may be more difficult to bill through insurance.