Seeking Out a Provider
Other articles on this site discuss some of the ways that therapists interact with their patients to try and help improve their well-being, and have hopefully helped to spark a desire to seek out help. My advice to someone beginning the process of trying to find a provider is that the best way to find someone who is a good fit is by actually reaching out to therapists. Sites like psychology today and goodtherapy that compile therapist profiles are a good place to get started, as reading what a therapist posts on their profile can give you an initial sense of whether their approach to clinical work resonates with what you are wanting from a provider. The next step is give those therapists who seem like they could be a good fit a call. Many therapists offer a free phone consultation to get to know a prospective patient’s needs and to give a prospective patient the chance to ask any questions they may have about the therapist’s approach to working with those needs, as well as any other questions they may have about the therapist’s practice. The last step is to meet with a therapist. Many therapists consider the initial several sessions a ‘consultation period’, during which a patient and therapist are both getting a deeper sense of whether they are a good fit for one another.
It is worth remembering that there are certain common factors that tend to significantly influence the outcome of therapy, including a therapist’s empathy for their patient as well as the strength of the bond between therapist and patient (Wampold & Imel, 2015). In practical terms, this means that patients heal best when they feel like their therapist is genuinely concerned about them and understands their difficulties, and they feel comfortable disclosing distressing thoughts and feelings to their therapist. While developing a deeply trusting relationship with a therapist often takes a significant amount of time, within the first two to three sessions a patient can start to get a sense of whether a therapist seems to be genuinely attuned to their struggles and sincerely concerned about their well-being. If a patient does not get the sense that the therapist they are meeting with is concerned about them and well-attuned to their experience, then it makes sense for them to seek out another provider. Treatment can be complex and not every therapist will be a perfect match for every person they meet with. If your first consultation with a therapist does not go as you would hope, do not fret as that is sometimes a part of the process. In the long run being connected with someone who is a good fit will almost certainly be worth the effort it may take on the front end to find that therapist.
Wampold, B. E., & Imel, Z. E. (2015). The great psychotherapy debate: The evidence for what makes psychotherapy work (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.