Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Find the Right Therapist for My Needs?

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‘Liz’ Asked:

How do you find the right therapist? I know I need one, and I also know the value of a good therapist. I’ve tried faith-based counseling in my area- found it to be very surface level and frankly kind of sexist. I’ve tried finding one through my healthcare network and even through an app. It’s just hard to find the right fit. I want someone who shares my faith, but also someone who has experience with serious mental health issues, which are a part of my story.

Dr. Zoe Answered:

Hi Liz, this is such a great question. Finding a good therapist is much like dating. Sometimes frustrating, but when you’ve found “the one,” you’ve found gold.

I suggest that you create a wish list for your perfect therapist, and then create some initial questions that you will ask on the first phone contact like:

1. Are you a person of faith and to which faith do you align?

Your perfect fit will happily answer the question. If the therapist is put off by this question, move on.

2. Do you conduct therapy solely from a faith perspective, or do you utilize other modalities and perspectives?

This will give you a window into how open or closed they are in their practice and thinking.

Personal growth tag board3. What types of issues would you consider your specialty?

This is an open-ended question and will give you the most information. If you ask if they are experienced with your particular issues, they may say yes because they read a book in grad school on it. But if you want to know what they really specialize in, ask the open-ended question.

4. Go ahead and stalk (I mean check them out) on the internet.

The beauty of the modern world is that many people know plenty more about their therapist than their therapist knows about them before they meet. And I think that’s a good thing.

By our first session, most of my clients have already listened to my podcast, found me on Instagram, and feel comfortable asking me about my home renovation that I might have shared in a blog. If you like how they show up on their website or social media, it’s more likely you will connect with them in person.

Remember that a first session is not a commitment, just like a first date isn’t. Don’t settle for less than what you know you want and need. Ask your friends if they know of any good therapists, look on Psychology Today, ask your doctor for a good referral, or look up therapists who have written books on your psychological issues.

5. Don’t rely on geographic location, and don’t be afraid of virtual sessions.

The therapy world is changing. Most therapists offer video sessions, so you don’t have to look only in your town. Google therapists in your state who work on your issues, and you will have access to a greater pool of therapists. I have found that video sessions are just as effective as in person sessions and significantly more convenient for all.

I know the search can be frustrating. I “dated” three therapists before I settled on mine, and I am so happy that I did.

You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.

Thinking about seeking therapy? Give this podcast episode a listen: Is It Time for Counseling? A Therapist Helps You Decide With Dr. Zoe Shaw – 004

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