Therapy can seem like something scary. In some way to be honest it is, you are sharing your thoughts and feelings with another person. Being vulnerable is scary but not being vulnerable with a least one person is dangerous. So why not be vulnerable with someone who is legally obligated to keep confidence.
Therapy is something that took me a while to personally wrap my brain around. It took me a while to realize that therapy isn’t something that you need to have tragic backstory to go into. Sometimes it can be one little thing or multiple little things that can mess up your entire groove. We live in an era where mental health awareness is at all time rise, but even then seeking help is still confusing. Here is a list of thing that I have learned you may what to think about before finding a therapist.
The saying money makes the world go round is sadly true. It makes sense that it would affect finding a therapist too. Therapy is something that everyone should have access to and luckily with the new era of technology it is getting easier, now people have more option than ever. One of your first options would be the traditional insurance route. Figuring out your insurance policy toward therapy would be your first step. Then you would need to find a therapist that takes you insurance policy. Psychology Today is a good website you use to cross search not only insurance but some of the other things on this list. Ask about the copay and financing option even if you have insurance. It may not be fun to think about the worst case scenario but it’s important. Ask the hard questions now so you don’t have to worry about them later.
For some people may not see the gender of their therapist to be a big deal. There should be some thought put into the importance of gender in therapy. Gender may be a social construct and a spectrum but for a lot of people use it to relate to the world. If that is you, then you may need to look for someone who has a similar gender identity if you can. Each gender identity has its own pitfalls that people have deal with and having someone who understands can take a bit of pressure off of the whole experience. That’s less you have to explain/educate which is something that we all need. Which lead us to our third point.
Race is another one of those things that has become highly important as time goes on. Now that we have Nazis running around in Charlottesville once again and marching their way into D.C, it is important that you have someone who can understand your struggles or even mild annoyances. A Black woman may go through things that a Hispanic or Latina woman may not. Same thing with an Asian woman and a Black woman. No problem negates the other but having a space where you freely can express those thoughts without the momentary thought of am I fulfilling stereotypes or making this person upset/uncomfortable can arise. You are sharing your thought and emotions, more likely than not your race may play a part of that. You don’t want to feel judged when you supposed to be in a safe space, that when you shut down and no progress can be made then. That is not to say that you will experience this with a therapist who isn’t the same race as you but like I said in the earlier spots it does make things easier.
Location, Location, Location; one could say its the most important on this list. You have the obvious point such as transportation, if you can’t go to therapy you can’t get anything done but there are some less obvious things to think about. You also have to think about the location. Does the area you are going make you feel comfortable? This may be outside of your control because of other influences ,such as price or transportation, but if you are able to you should look into finding an area that makes you feel safe. You will be going there multiple times a month and if you are spending your time scuttling between your car and the office every appointment in fear of being notice, will just add stress to your appointment. For some people it doesn’t matter if people know that they are going to therapy and they should be ashamed. For some people it does matter and thats okay too, you don’t have to share and it none of their business, you may just want to look into a place where you feel least likely to run into people. You can’t find anywhere fool proof but it important that you are as comfortable as possible.
Whether you have a religion or you don’t believe in religion, it is important to evaluate how important it is in your life. For those who do have a religion having someone who also believes in what you believe can help greatly affect the successfulness of your session depending on how important it Is to you. Have that extra faith element can make the world of difference. For those who religion is not your thing, you may want to look for a therapist who also doesn’t do religion or a therapist who agrees to keep their religious beliefs out of session. As I been saying having someone who you can feel comfortable expressing yourself and being vulnerable with is important. You have to be you own advocate when it comes to therapy and while it is important you respect others religious choices, you should always expect the same in return.
Sexuality is another one of those hot topics. For many of the reasons on this list. It is also the hardest one to find a match for. Some therapist will openly share this information, some won’t for their own reasons. There are resources for that for some bigger metropolitan cities such as L.A or D.C have organizations that are quick google search away, but for those in more conservative areas or just don’t feel comfortable going in person website such as Pride Counseling and Talk Space offer online therapy sessions. If you choose to go the in person route it it important to look for therapist that avertise as LGBT-affriming or friendly .
7. Are you Vibing?
This is the start of the list where we turn everything on it head, cause sometimes everything just comes down to vibes. Therapy is all about feeling comfortable but sometimes you can have everything on this list and still not feel comfertable. Who knows what make you like a person, but if that spark isn’t there you may not feel comfortable. Maybe their approach is too stiff or they are too informal for you to handle. You just have to find the one that clicks with you. At the end of the day therapist aren’t a robot they are people just like you. So you have to find the one that vibes mesh well with yours.
8. Committing isn’t forever
Finding a therapist is similar to buying a car. You do a test drive then purchase, Unlike with a car however, you aren’t making a forever purchase. Therapy is a wonderful tool but sometimes you have to go back to the toolbox to find the right one for the project you need. You have no obligation to stay with one therapist forever if you feel like it isn’t working. This is your construction site and you are your own foreman. While I am saying this, it is important to remember that a big part of therapy is your own effort. A therapist is there to help guide you. That being said if you realize the tool being given don’t/have stopped working, maybe it’s time to move on to another therapist. You aren’t betraying your therapist they want you to succeed with or without them.
9. You may not check off every box
After reading this list you maybe be feeling overwhelmed. It’s a lot to think about. The one thing to remember is that these are tips not a checklist. Of course should to think about the importance of each item in your life yes but life isn’t always simple. You maybe be able to find a few or maybe only one, and that is okay. There is no sure fire way to succeed at therapy. It isn’t a math or chemistry equation. You have to accept that it is a process. Looking at this list a guide for you to decide what is most important for you will take a bit of stress of. Make a list and rank from 1 being most important to 5 being the least important. Use that ranking in your search. Breathe relax you can’t do it wrong.