A Good Match? Picking the Right Therapist

You’ve finally gotten up the nerve–calling or emailing a therapist. If you’re calling, part of you is hoping the therapist WON’T be there, so you can leave a message. Emailing feels safer because you’ll only reveal the scantest of information, like “Interested in your services, can you call?” Then your phone number. (Given the issues with email security, you SHOULDN’T leave any more than that.) But how will you know if this person is the right one? Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Response Time.  How quickly did a prospective therapist return your call or email? If you haven’t heard back within 72 hours, and the therapist wasn’t on vacation, he or she may not have time for you.
  2. Quality of the response. How much time did the therapist spend answering your questions? Did he or she give you a sense of who they are?  Did you feel rushed with no explanation. Or does the person say something like, “I have a 2 pm client so I only have 10 minutes, but can we schedule a mutually convenient time to talk later?”
  3. No pressure.  Once you have made the call it is up to you to set the appointment.  They should not be contacting you to see if you have decided if you want to set up an initial consult.  Any further contact should be initiated by you.
  4. Experience.  Do they have experience in the issues you need?  Have they worked with similar issues?  How much experience is a legitimate question to ask? 

Ultimately, it comes down to chemistry– the relationship between you and the therapist. The therapist may have answered your questions in a timely way and provided the info you want. He or she may have great credentials.  But even so, you need to follow your gut about whether you want to invite the person on your journey. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s OK–don’t clobber yourself because the choice wasn’t right. Just learn from the experience and move on. You CAN find the right therapist, someone who will help you heal and grow.

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