At Family TLC, we see our counselling clients as strong people who are investing in their own wellness and actively participating in their self-improvement – despite any stigma that still exists about asking for help.
Once you’re ready to seek that help, your next step is to find the right therapist for you. Here are some suggestions to help with that process:
- Ask family and friends: Ask those who are in therapy how they were able to find a therapist and if they like their therapist. If they do, find out what exactly it is they like about them and see if their therapist would be willing to give you a list of referrals. If none of your friends are in therapy then you can always get referrals by calling institutes (e.g., Jungian/Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytic) to find therapists in your area. Many of these institutes provide an intake to match you with a therapist in your area who can help you overcome the obstacles you are facing.
- Search online: Many people today find their therapist on Psychology Today’s Therapy Finder. Look for therapists who provide thorough details about their work philosophy and therapeutic approach.
- Consider gender: When choosing a therapist, almost all people have an instinctive hit on which gender they would prefer to work with. It is wise to let your potential therapist about your gender preference. In some cases a therapist may recommend against your preferred gender but this is not usually the case.
- Check credentials:Are they certified/licensed to practice? A licensed or certified therapist has engaged in extensive post-graduate counselling experience which, depending on the province, may include up to 3,000 hours of required supervised experience. It also means the counsellor has passed a licensing exam. There are many unlicensed therapists who have years of experience and do excellent work, but licensed counsellors have (generally but not always) undergone more extensive supervision than unlicensed counsellors.
- Have they undergone their own therapy?: Depending on the province, therapists may be required to undergo a certain amount of personal therapy. This is necessary to insure that there are no boundary issues, unmanaged counter-transference, or blind spots between the therapist and patient.
- Contact the therapist: Once you have narrowed down your list of potential therapists, you can contact them on the phone. I suggest you have some questions handy, such as:
- What is their specialty? Child therapy, couples, PTSD, depression, etc.
- Have they worked with people with your issues? Share a little about your presenting issues and see how the therapist responds.
- What is their fee? Discuss if you need a sliding scale or if you are planning on using insurance. If you like everything about them but their rate is more than you can manage, I would tell them that. If they can slide no lower, then I would ask for referrals.
Choosing a therapist is an important decision. Take your time and be thorough so you can feel comfortable with your choice and free to focus on the counselling process and your own healing.