Find the Right Therapist for You

Posted October 15, 2012 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five

You’ve decided it’s time to go to therapy. It’s probably because you know you’re awesome, but you want to become more awesome, and you’re wondering what’s next. For most people, that next step is picking a therapist. I’d love to discuss a few things that may inform your therapist selection and highlight some things I think are important about picking a therapist.

  • Money and Insurance.  How would you like to pay? Some people want to use their insurance for therapy, and some therapists accept insurance as a form of payment for therapy. Other people may want to pay cash (or, in therapist speak: out of pocket) and some therapists accept only cash for their services.  Some will accept both insurance and cash. For people who would like to use their insurance, finding someone who is considered “In Network” with your insurance is most cost-effective. The quickest way to find out who is in your network is to call your insurance company. Most insurance companies have a list online or can send you one via email for in-network therapists.Now, take this with a grain of salt (I’m a therapist, so my bias is obviously in favor of you finding the right therapist): All things considered, I think it’s worth it to find a therapist with whom you think you can do the most work, and then figure out the payment with him or her.
  • Fit.  You’re going to talk about a lot of personal things with this person, so you should feel comfortable. I offer a free 30-minute consultation to all of my clients so that they can see what it’s like to work with me: They get an idea of what my office looks like and if my couch is comfortable. They hear what I sound like and learn how they feel sitting with me. It seems as though people really know if they jive with someone in that first meeting.  Sometimes it’s what the therapist says, sometimes it’s what the office looks like, and sometimes it’s about a feeling of “Yes, this is right,” or “No, run!” Ask if you can come chat about therapy with your potential therapist.
  • Style. It’s really important to shop for a therapist. The selection is important. Some people want a therapist who is soft and encouraging. Others want a therapist who is inquisitive. Some people want a therapist who is straight-forward and to the point.  Spend some time thinking about what kind of style you’d benefit from the most. Ask interview questions. Some examples may include: Do you give homework between sessions? What do you expect of me as your client? What can I expect from you as my therapist? How will we know when our work is done?
  • Specialties. Most good therapists I’ve met are curious about human beings in general. And it can be helpful to go beyond that and find someone who has expertise in what’s going on with your life. I work often with 20-30 something women and 20-30 something couples.  60-year-old men may be comfortable with me, and I’ve certainly worked with them before, but they might connect more with someone who is older.  One of my favorite therapists sees clients who mostly want to address grief and loss issues. She’s done way more specific work and education around grief and loss and has a lot to offer up front to clients.  Ask your potential therapist what kind of clients they most often see, and find out if your main reason for therapy aligns with theirs.

Choosing a therapist that’s right for you is really important. Don’t be afraid to keep shopping until you find someone whom you think may be most helpful.  If you’ve got a particular concern/type of therapist you’d like help finding, send me an email.  I know tons of awesome people and would love to help connect you to the right person.

About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”