Finding Your Ideal Therapist and What to Expect
The decision to start therapy is a very vulnerable one. Often the decision has been debated for months or even years. As scary as it may be, it is a step in the right direction. I’m a firm believer that everyone has something to improve and learn about themselves. Therapy provides you with a new sense of self-awareness. As great as this is, the process to start counseling can be intimidating and produce a lot of anxiety and frustration. I’ve found people don’t know what to expect or how to get the process going. For some, the therapy journey can be more vulnerable and confusing. The BIPOC community, who haven’t traditionally had access to therapy due to systematic oppression and racism, struggle more accessing therapy resources. Let’s look at how to start your journey to counseling and what to expect during the initial session.
Finding the Right Therapist
The most convenient way to find a therapist is to use a directory like Therapy Den, Inclusive Therapists, or Therapy for Black Girls. But even then, it can still be overwhelming trying to find the right fit. One possible starting point is, considering, do you want to work with someone who comes from the same or a similar community as you. For the majority of my career, I’ve worked with a disenfranchised population who was not aware they had the option to see a therapist who identifies with the same community as them. Most therapy directories allow you to search for someone from the same ethnic, cultural, racial, gender, sexual identity, or religious background as you. For some people, it doesn’t matter. For others, it makes the difference. Regardless, it is valuable to have the option to speak to someone you identify with personally.
What to Read First on Their Profile
I do believe reading the therapist’s whole profile is a good idea. It can give you a sense of their vibe and style, so you can see if they may be a good fit. However, there is important information to look at first. Do they accept the insurance you have? If you’re cash pay, are they within your budget? Do they offer a sliding scale? Are they accepting new clients? In my experience of looking for a therapist, nothing is worse than vibing with a potential one. Then realizing for one of the reasons listed above, you can’t meet with them. Even worse, making the vulnerable step of reaching out only to be disappointed. Let’s make the process easier and start looking for the right things first to avoid later frustrations.
Contacting the Therapist
Okay, so you found the therapist. They check all your boxes, are affordable (or accept your insurance), and they’re accepting new clients. Now what? Somewhere on their profile or website, they should provide their contact information. Now take a deep breath and give them a call or send an email. Let them know you’d like to schedule an appointment, and they’ll take the led. Having doubt, torn between two possible therapists, or maybe you want to make sure it’s a good fit. Ask the therapist if they provide free phone consultations. It’ll allow you to test the waters and break the ice.
The Initial Appointment
Even being a therapist myself, I was nervous about my first appointment. I knew what to expect but had no idea how to verbalize the chaos that can be my mind. Fortunately, I trusted my gut when choosing a therapist, and it paid off. Hopefully, your therapist is welcoming and warm. They’ll walk you through the limits of confidentiality. Most of the initial session is getting to know you and the problem. You may even create some goals. The first session isn’t full of magical revelations. Instead, you build a relationship and create trust with your new therapist. After your appointment, you should feel heard, validated, and safe.
The thought of initiating therapy may be a scary one. But some of the hardest things in life have the best rewards. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to elevate your journey to healing. Now that you’ve learned to find your ideal therapist. Find one to fit your needs. You got this! And remember change doesn’t happen overnight.