I have had several therapists in my lifetime. At the moment I am 37 years old and I’ve been in therapy since I was 15. At first, when I went to see a therapist I had no idea what to look for because I was a teenager. It was my first experience with therapy. Now that I’m older and savvier, I know what to look for in a mental health professional. Online therapy is becoming increasingly popular and I’ve been doing a lot of research about it. I’m considering it for myself, in fact. There are multiple companies that offer online counseling. BetterHelp online counseling is one of them and Talkspace is another for example. I’ve written about how I believe it could help my social anxiety. Just like with a face-to-face therapist, it’s important to look for a therapist who works well with you.
Communication is Key
When I speak with a potential therapist (because you don’t have to use the first person you meet) I interview them about what it is they do. The first thing I ask that person is “what kind of therapy do you practice?” If the person responds with “I’m eclectic,” I run for the hills. The word “eclectic” to me means that this person doesn’t have a coherent sense of what their style is. I’m not interested in working with someone like that. If they tell me “I practice CBT” or “psychodynamic” then I’m more likely to want more information from this person. After I find out what sort of therapy they practice, then I start speaking to this person like anyone I want to get to know. I ask them their astrological sign, I ask them where they went to school, I inquire if they have children or pets. Personally, I find that if you have children it’s helpful to see a therapist who also has children so that they understand who you are and what your life is like. In life, people who don’t have children don’t seem to understand how hard it is to raise children. If you see a therapist who has children, you automatically share a common ground.
What’s important to YOU in a therapist/patient relationship?
Ask yourself what is it that you want from a therapist. When you speak to a potential therapist, voice those concerns to that person. It’s almost easier to do that with an online counselor because you’ll mainly be communicating with that person through messages, which means a lot of words. If you articulate best through writing, then online therapy is a great modality for you. You can be clear and concise about what it is you need from you mental health professional. You matter, and what you want matters too. You have a right to ask for the things that you want out of a therapist.
Did the Potential Therapist Listen?
This might be intuitive, but ask yourself an important question: when you expressed your concerns about therapy, did the potential therapist actually listen to you? This is one of the most important things to know. A therapist must be a good listener in order to do his/her job well. If you feel heard by this person, then this is a good sign that they may be a good fit for you as a therapist.
I wish you the best of luck finding a mental health professional that you feel comfortable with. You got this!