—Andrew P.*, The College of New Jersey
Congratulations on taking the first step in caring for your mental health. It’s great that you’ve committed to seeking help from a professional who can guide you through the healing process.
There are many psychologists and therapists out there, and it’s all about finding the one that’s right for you. Here are four steps to help you determine if you’ve found a good fit:
1. Confirm that the psychologist is licensed.
You can use the American Board of Professional Psychology website to look them up by name or location.
2. Check out their specialties.
Consider what types of issues you’re looking to address in your sessions. While a well-trained psychologist or therapist will know how to assist with a range of topics, most have specialty areas. For example, some psychologists focus on family issues, such as divorce, or work with specific traumas, such as child abuse.
3. Find out how they conduct their sessions.
There are various approaches to therapy. Some focus more on helping you create more healthy thoughts and behaviors. You’ll often complete exercises and practices to learn how to make helpful changes in your life. Another approach is focusing on your past and getting a better understanding of how the past is affecting your present. There are also approaches that include art, music, spirituality, aromatherapy, and more.
Most psychologists and therapists use a combination of approaches. Think about what you’d be most comfortable with and try to find someone who matches that.
4. Do you vibe with them?
Lastly, but also very important, is figuring out if the match between you and the psychologist or therapist is a good one. Do you feel you’re able to share freely and honestly with them? Do you feel a connection with them? Research shows that if it’s a good fit, you’re more likely to stay in therapy and have better outcomes.
Don’t feel badly if you start seeing a therapist and don’t feel like they’re a good match; they won’t take it personally if you speak up about it, and may even be able to recommend someone else more able to suit your needs.
*Name changedArticle source
Martin, D. J., Garske, J. P., & Davis, M. K. (2000). Relation of the therapeutic alliance with outcome and other variables: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(3), 438–450.