The process of finding a therapist can be intimidating. There are plenty of factors to consider that are akin to finding a doctor: Does she accept my insurance? Is his office close enough to where I live? Does she have special training in the areas that I need help with? These factors are just as important when looking for a therapist. And yet there are some additional factors to finding a therapist that make the process altogether different from finding a doctor. A therapist is someone that you will be talking with for almost an hour at a time! This is someone with whom you will be sharing intimate details about your relationships, your feelings, and painful memories. In order to find healing the therapist must be someone who you trust and who can also help you grow.
As someone who has seen a few different therapists, I know that this process takes time and can be frustrating. Oftentimes we can’t put words to what we really want or don’t want in a therapist. Sometimes there is something specific that we want but don’t pause to consider why. It’s more of a feeling of connection that we look for, which is an elusive concept. This feeling of connection means that there are qualities in a therapist that really work for me, but that someone else is turned off by, or vice versa.
To make the process more challenging, these “qualities” that we all look for are not typically advertised. We most often “find” a therapist by doing a Google search, getting referred by a friend, or being referred by a medical professional. None of these give us the information that we are looking for: Will I have a connection? Will I be challenged to grow? I have received a few referrals from acquaintances over the years. One of those therapists I met with a few times, another I continued to see for over two years. Both were warm, compassionate, and very knowledgeable. I felt understood and accepted by both. I happened to find a better fit with one in particular. There probably isn’t a “right” therapist out there for any of us. The therapist that I stayed with for over two years was probably not perfect for me, but she was what I needed at the time.
The good news is that therapists and social workers are all trained to serve the public. We are trained to put our personal needs, beliefs, and traditions aside to meet the client’s needs. This includes supporting individuals when they want to look for a different therapist and helping them process it. We are trained to understand that everyone is unique and comes with unique needs. The best therapists understand this and support you and help you find what you need wherever you are at in your journey.
Lisa Wilmore, LPC