Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/6/2021
Whether you have a specific life issue to work through — like trauma to overcome or a bad breakup — or just think it might be nice to have an unbiased person to talk to, therapy is almost always beneficial.
In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health says that therapy can be beneficial for anyone dealing with stress, having difficulty focusing, going through a life change or feeling overwhelmed — or any array of mental health issues.
Of course, who you speak with is a crucial part of the equation. In fact, the American Psychological Association has found that your relationship with a therapist is at least as important to a positive outcome as using the right method of treatment.
So, how do you go about finding a therapist who works with your personality?
Fact: Therapy is not a one size fits all solution. In fact, there are different types of therapy. Both your personality and the reason you’re seeking help can influence what time may be most beneficial for you. Here, some of the most common types:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): The truth is, when we’re stuck in a bad habit there’s often identifiable patterns and behaviors that keep us stuck. CBT revolves around identifying those things and coming up with ways to break the cycle.
Dialectical behavior therapy: This has roots in CBT and has been shown to be beneficial in treating anxiety. The main goal is to help people live in the moment.
Interpersonal therapy: If relationships with other people are causing you stress and anxiety, this type of therapy can help you overcome those roadblocks and build healthier bonds..
Psychodynamic therapy: The whole idea of talking about your childhood to solve current issues? That’s pretty much psychodynamic therapy. Prepare to dive into older stuff that may have had a lasting impact on you.
Once you know which type of therapy you’re most drawn to, you’ll be able to start your search for a therapist specializing in that area.
Another thing to think about before settling on someone is what your insurance may cover. Call your insurance company to ask about what your mental health benefits cover. This will help you consider cost when starting your search.
There are actually a number of ways you can find a trained, licensed mental health professional. Here are some places to start.
Ask For a Referral
One way you may feel comfortable finding a therapist is by asking for a referral from someone in your life that you trust — like a primary care provider or other doctor you see regularly.
You don’t even need to go into detail about why you are interested in seeking out therapy — unless, of course, you want to. Simply tell them you are considering therapy and would love a recommendation.
If it feels comfortable, you can also ask a friend or family member. They may have heard of recommendations through other people, or may have seen a therapist in the past. Or, if they see a therapist, they can ask their therapist for a recommendation for you.
The internet can be your friend when it comes to finding therapist options. There are a number of reputable organizations that have a database full of mental health professionals.
Many of these databases will allow you to search by location and specialty — for example, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, sexual abuse, etc.
Below are some databases to consider:
Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist
The American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Find a Therapist
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s Therapist Locator
If your health insurance plan covers therapy (even just partially), they’ll likely have a therapist directory of in-network providers listed on their website.
Not sure if a therapist is covered by your insurance? Give them a call and ask. They’ll be able to confirm which providers they work with.
You may also have out-of-network coverage. This generally means that if you pick a therapist who is out-of-network, you may have to pay a bit more out of pocket.
This is something to consider seriously. Think about whether or not you can actually afford to go out of network. According to the APA, many people say they don’t seek help because they can’t afford it. So, choosing a provider you can afford will set you up for success in the long run.
Online therapy has a number of benefits, not the least of which is that it tends to be cost-effective and it can be a bit easier to fit into a busy schedule than in-person therapy.
Engaging in therapy from your own home may also help you feel more comfortable.
There are quite a few different forms of therapy available online — including individual therapy, group therapy and specialized forms of therapy.
Psychiatry is also available in an online format — and could be a good resource if you may need medication to help with things like anxiety.
During teletherapy sessions, you’ll be able to talk to your therapist by chat or video, all without having to leave your home.
To benefit from therapy, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable with your mental health provider.
Before you start seeing someone, most therapists will agree to a phone consultation so you can get a sense of what they’re like.
Using this time to explain why you’re seeking therapy and asking some questions can help you feel more confident in your decision.
Questions that can help you get a feel for how working with them will look like are below:
What is your training? Yes, it’s okay to ask them to explain their qualifications and background. All therapists are trained as professional counselors, but knowing the specifics may make you feel more confident in their ability to help you.
What types of treatment or therapy would you explore with me? This will give you an idea of what they think could help you.
What does treatment with you look like? You can follow up by asking how often they think you should attend therapy, how sessions are structured and anything else that may help you prepare.
How will we track my progress? It will set you up for success if you have a solid understanding of what progress in therapy could look like for you. This can help manage expectations and give you benchmarks to look at.
How much does therapy with you cost? As mentioned before, understanding cost can help you prepare and make sure you have the financial resources to commit to that therapist.
You should also feel free to ask any other questions you may have. Therapy relies quite a bit on trust and asking questions can help build that.
Finding a therapist who suits you and your needs is a key component of successful therapy.
There are many places you can search for a therapist — including your insurance provider’s website, databases associated with mental health organizations and referrals from a trusted physician or friends.
Once you find someone, you’ll want to have a consultation with them. During that time, you should feel free to ask any and all questions you may have.
As a reminder, some helpful questions may revolve around their training, how they approach treatment and what progress looks like in their mind.
Finally, you should treat your relationship with a new therapist the same way you would any new relationship. You’ll need to give it a little time for trust to build and to see if it’s going to work out.
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