How to Find the Right Therapist
Have you been meaning to start therapy but have no idea where to even start? Claire gives you some tips on how to navigate the mental health world and find the right person for you. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who is grieving her decision to only have one child.
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Claire Bidwell-Smith 00:00
I can’t even remember how many times on the show I’ve suggested talking to a therapist. But sometimes that’s easier said than done. And how do you even know you found the right one?
I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today on NEW DAY. Now in your feed three times a week. therapy can be absolutely life changing. And it’s for absolutely everyone, at any time in your life. You don’t need to be in crisis to go to therapy, you don’t even need to have a specific issue you want to work on. Maybe you just want to do some self-reflection. Or maybe there is actually something big going on. And you’ve come to the realization that you could use some support. Either way, finding the right therapist is key, but how do you do it? The first step is research. I always tell people to ask around in your community of friends and family. Obviously, you don’t want to go to the same therapist as your best friend. But getting some recommendations from people you don’t overlap with too much can be great. Another place to look is online, you can literally type into a search box therapists near me and find a ton of listings. I also highly recommend going to psychologytoday.com, where you can search for therapists using your zip code, and even narrow your search to clinicians who specialize in what you’re looking for, like anxiety or couples therapy. You can also see how much they cost. And if they take insurance. You’ll want to give some thought to your gender preferences for a therapist and also consider how important it is for you to work with a person of color or someone in the LGBTQIA community. Getting specific about the kind of person you most want to share your personal life with is really important. The next step is to interview therapist, you found yes, you’re allowed to interview therapists, we’re used to potential clients coming in and asking us a bunch of questions. You definitely want to stay away from anyone who isn’t open to questions or is defensive around their training, education or what kind of treatments they offer.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 01:58
Some questions you might want to ask your potential therapist include. Are you a licensed therapist? How long have you been working in this field? Tell me about your education and training background? What’s your specialty? How much experience do you have working with people who have my problem, my condition or my history with addiction or obsessive compulsive disorder, sleep problems or childhood abuse relationship problems at work? What treatments do you offer? And how are those interventions effective for my exact problem? And on average, how long does treatment take? How should I assess whether the treatments working? And if the intervention doesn’t work? What do I do? Do you give homework like journaling or meditating or anxiety tracking? Tell me about your fees and related policies? Do you use a sliding scale fee, ie lower fees for people with lower income? Do you have a cancellation policy? Do you provide super belt. If a therapist doesn’t take insurance, many of them do still provide a form called a super belt that you can submit to your insurance for some amount of reimbursement. The final part of this process is to start therapy with the person you choose. And I would give it three to six sessions to determine how the relationship feels to you. Your therapist is a person you’re going to spend weeks, months, maybe years with, you’re going to be sharing some of the most intimate details of your life, sitting with sometimes uncomfortable truths and potentially painful memories, and overall feeling really vulnerable. So it’s super important that the relationship feels good to you.
You want to feel like you can be as open as possible. You want to trust this person, and you want to be able to let yourself get emotional with them. While I do believe we can have success by following our initial gut instinct about therapists, I think we also need to give it a little bit of time. After all, we the therapists need to get to know you a little bit top, the first sessions we spend with you are a lot of information gathering, we’re finding out about your background, your current life, and basically what makes you tick. And the better we get to know you the more we can help, hence giving us three to six sessions. That said you should know right away if you feel like the therapist you’re trying out is someone who’s warm and empathic and understanding. You’ll know right away if you feel comfortable around them. Overall, don’t spend too much time looking for the perfect therapist. Remember, you can always end therapy if you realize during later sessions that you and your therapist are not a good match. So again, do your homework, interview a few therapists and then go with your gut instinct. Keep your ultimate goal in mind like solving your relationship problems or treating your mental health condition. And once you found a therapist you like, you can work together to come up with a plan and begin the work of improving your situation and living your best life.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 04:48
Time for your questions. I absolutely love hearing from you. If you have something you’d like my thoughts on shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our form at bit.ly/newdayask, you can find the link in the show notes. Today we got an email from Carol. Carol writes, I am a mother of a brilliant and joyous fourth grader. But I’m burdened that I made the choice many years ago to only have one child, my son is so wonderful. And he’s brought such a light into my life that I feel guilty and ignorant that I didn’t have another one, that I didn’t give him a sibling. And that I didn’t have the foresight to see how wonderful things would be after the baby stage, which was unbelievably hard for me. I am sad that once his dad and I are gone from this world, he’ll be alone. I’m grief ridden with my choice, and it’s too late in his life and mind to do anything about it. I’m so grateful I had him. But I worry I made his life harder by making him an only child for the rest of his life. Do you have any advice for this kind of heartache? Oh, Carol, this totally breaks my heart. This is such a big question. And it’s one I’ve heard from several friends of mine in my personal life as well. I’m really hearing your grief here, and just how you’re sitting with this choice you’ve made. I do think it’s really wonderful that you’re acknowledging it and opening yourself up to it. And I know that while it doesn’t solve it, letting yourself feel it and recognize that grief is really important. I also get that beginning stage of the baby time, it’s so hard, I have been there and thought I wouldn’t make it through to the other side. And then you do and you realize it’s a different space. So I can just hear how much you’re reflecting on all of this. Personally, this question really hits home for me, I am an only child, and I lost my parents too soon, leaving me alone in my life at a young age.
Claire Bidwell-Smith 06:40
But you know what, I’m so grateful that they had me. I’m so grateful for the time I had with them. And for all the love and the attention they gave me. And I’ll tell you that even though they’ve been gone for a really long time, they’re still with me every day, in every part of my life. My kids never got to meet them. But we talk about them so much that it’s like they do know them. But also tell you that being an only child comes with a lot of gifts. One of them is that attention and time that they get from their parents. I have three kids now and I find myself constantly envying all the one on one time that my friends who have only children get to spend with their kids. I’m constantly worried that I’m spreading myself too thin, and my kids never get enough attention from me. So I think it’s hard on both sides. And here’s some other surprising things about only children that you might not know. Across the board, studies show that only children have better relationships with their parents. I mean, this was every study I looked at. Some studies show that only children spend more time on their homework and get better grades than kids with siblings. Only children are independent and goal oriented. Only children get along well with adults and authority figures. And only children do just as well socially as kids with siblings. Look, Carol, I know none of this erases the grief you’re feeling but I hope it helps a little. It’s so hard to always know if we’re making the right decisions in our lives. And sometimes we end up having to really sit and reflect on things that we wish we could have done differently. I know for myself, there’s a couple of times in my life when I have gotten really hung up on kind of going back over what things would have looked like had I made a different decision. But I also know that every time I’ve really let myself feel the grief over it, that’s when I’ve been able to let go of it and move forward. So for now, I think soak up your little guy, be as present as possible and just let yourself enjoy each other. I mean, who’s to say that having another kid really would have been the right decision after all for you and your family. You can’t know. So get social, get to know the other kids and the other parents of his friends, invite his pals over a bunch fill your house up with kids. That’s what my mom did for me and it was so much fun. And look forward to what’s ahead. Your son will have friends and partners and maybe even his own children that will become part of your life and your family. I think it sounds like you’re an amazing mom, Carol, and you dearly love your son. And I’m pretty certain that’s more than enough for him. Thank you so much for your question.
That’s it for today. Coming up on Friday. I’m so excited to have licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Liz Earnshaw back on the show. And we’re joined by my husband Mark. I still can’t believe he said yes, but we had a lot of fun talking about our relationship, our family our challenges, all of it. See you Friday, and make sure you subscribe to NEW DAY so you never miss an episode.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.