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Giving Therapy a Shot: Where Do I Start?

Written by Kara Thompson, Licensed Social Worker

So, you’ve decided to give therapy a shot. It’s been years of contemplating and debating, maybe sprinkled with a little avoidance as well if we’re being honest. Over the last few years, you’ve heard your friends casually mentioning their therapist in conversation. You’ve even noticed a lot of therapy-related content on Instagram and TikTok… scrolling late at night and secretly questioning if it’s all just a “sign.” You woke up this morning and finally decided that it is time to prioritize yourself, taking that first step. One of your friends mentioned this website “PsychologyToday” so you google that not knowing what to expect. “Find a Therapist” pops up on the screen and you enter your zip code, taking a quick pause to muster up the courage to click that little magnification glass icon to submit the search. Next thing you know you are scrolling through tens, hundreds of faces with names and a bunch of confusing credential letters after them. Woah. Where do I start?

First Step: Breathe.

No, I really mean it. Take 60 seconds to notice your breath, checking in with yourself and the way your body is feeling as you enter this therapeutic journey. While your first thought may have been “I will never be able to make a decision,” try to offer yourself this reminder: your first thought doesn’t have to be your final one. You’re right, with all these names and faces it can feel overwhelming… and exciting. Here is something your future therapist may tell you: you’re allowed to feel conflicting emotions at the same time. While the plethora of names and faces may seem daunting, remind yourself that the ball is in your court here. So really, take another deep breath while you reflect on these questions:

  • What am I hoping to get out of therapy?
  • What kinds of things do I want to work on?
  • How often am I wanting to meet with my therapist?
  • What is my budget?
  • What expectations do I have of what therapy is going to be like?

Second Step: Filters

Filters can be a HUGE help in your decision-making process. Most if not all of the search engine platforms for therapists such as PsychologyToday or TherapyDen offer filter options. Not too dissimilar to online shopping, these filters allow you to narrow things down a bit so that you can find options that best suit you. Don’t wait your time scrolling through female-identifying therapists if you have made the decision in your mind that you want to work with a male therapist. Are you looking for a therapist that identifies with a certain faith? Or who speaks your second language? Or maybe you are looking only for providers who work with your insurance? Clicking on those filters takes you one step closer to finding a therapist that is best for you.

Third Step: Reach On Out!

Say you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of therapists whose bio’s intrigued you and you’re interested in connecting with them… send those emails! Reaching out to a few therapists gives you options and can help you find the best fit for your needs. Some therapists may have a full caseload and are not taking new referrals, while others may have limited availability that just doesn’t work with your schedule. That’s okay… you have options! When receiving responses from different therapists, ask if they can offer a free consultation call. This is where you are able to chat over the phone with the therapist for about 15 minutes, telling them a bit about why you are seeking out therapy while also giving you a chance to get a feel for their personality/style.

Remember, the therapeutic relationship is a two-way street! Just as the therapist may ask you some questions during that consultation call, you are welcome to be asking your therapist things as well. Maybe you want to know if they have worked with other clients experiencing similar presenting concerns? Or maybe you’re curious as to how they facilitate the first session together? If after the consultation call (or even after a few sessions together) it doesn’t feel like a good fit, you always have the right to let your therapist know. Therapists will not be everything for everyone and we know that. We want you to be working with someone who feels right for you. Remember… you’ve got options!

We know that the process of finding a therapist can be overwhelming, but support is out there! If you or a loved one is ready to take that next step in finding a therapist, reach out to us at Symmetry Counseling. You can contact us online or by phone at (312) 578-9990 to schedule an appointment with a clinician today.

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