Deciding to see a therapist is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. It takes courage to acknowledge that you need help, and going on a journey of self-discovery and healing is one of the best investments you can make in life.

Now suppose you are ready to start seeing a therapist. How do you choose one? Do you just find the most qualified one nearby?  Or do you settle for the most affordable one? What sort of areas should they be specialized in to help you with your problems?

These are common questions that pop up when people search for a therapist, and it can be confusing. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a decent grasp of what to look for when choosing a therapist.

1. Research Different Types of Therapists Available in Your Locality

The first thing you want to do is to find out what options are available to you.

It can be pointless if you follow the other steps in this article and then realize that there’s no one around you that is trained to work with the unique issues you are going through.

So, start researching a bit. You can Google for therapists around you. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to the first therapists you see on the first page of Google. Instead, take your time to dig and explore other options online too.

If you feel like you can’t trust the results that Google shows you, then there’s a very good option to try.

Suppose you want to find a therapist in Texas. Try to find a database of therapists that mentions their qualifications and areas of expertise. Such databases usually have a list of several professional therapists, their contact information, and scheduling options.

Another useful benefit that such platforms have is they often do thorough background checks on the people they hire. The ones that do make it onto the lists are therapists who meet a number of requirements to ensure a high quality of service.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, about 43.4% of Texans claimed symptoms of depression and anxiety.  These database websites come in handy to find therapists in states like Texas that have a shortage of mental health professionals. (In Texas, only 32.9% of the mental health need is met.)

2. Determine Your Needs

Consider what you hope to achieve through therapy and what specific issues you want to address. Try some self-reflection and list down what your main concerns are that triggered you to want to see a therapist.

You probably already know the general category of issue that your problems fall under but try to dig a little deeper. So you feel depressed. Okay, what else? Are there any associated issues?

Once you have some more clarity, ask yourself what you would like your therapist to help you out with.

Do you want them to teach you coping strategies? Do you want them to trigger “Aha! Moments” where you come to realize new aspects about yourself? If so, make a note of these and keep them ready.

3. Read Up on the Different Therapeutic Approaches

Once you have found a list of licensed professional counselors available in your locality and gotten a little more clarity on the issues you face, it’s time to move to the next step.

There are several therapeutic approaches used by mental health professionals, each with its own unique focus and techniques. Try to learn about what their approach to problem-solving is and see if they vibe with you. Some of the most common approaches are:



     Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying, challenging, and changing negative patterns of thought and behaviors that may be contributing to your issues.

CBT is based on the idea that an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected and that negative thoughts and beliefs can lead to negative emotions and maladaptive behaviors.

The therapy aims to help individuals identify these negative thoughts and beliefs and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.

It is a relatively short-term therapy, typically lasting between 8 and 20 sessions, and often used to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

     Humanistic Therapy: This approach emphasizes the individual’s unique experience and encourages self-exploration and personal growth.

A person’s “unique experience” is valued a lot here, and the goal is to help individuals achieve their full potential and live a more fulfilling life. It is often used to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, and relationship issues.

     Interpersonal therapy: This approach focuses on the relationship between an individual and others and how those relationships affect mental health. It is a brief, time-limited therapy that typically lasts between 12 and 16 sessions.

In IPT, your therapist will try to help you recognize how your current symptoms are related to your current relationships and how these symptoms can be improved by addressing the way you relate to others.

     Mindfulness-based therapy: This approach emphasizes the practice of mindfulness, which refers to the process of being present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, in order to help you manage your symptoms and improve overall well-being.

It is often used along with other forms of therapy and can be applied to a wide range of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, stress, chronic pain, and addiction.

The most well-known mindfulness-based therapy is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

Conclusion

These are just some of the many therapy options available to you, and if you feel like the methodology of one of the above methods resonated with you, go ahead and see if a therapist near you specializes in it.

Don’t be afraid to try out different therapists because you may not always click instantly with your first one.

A major aspect of good therapy is the therapeutic relationship that you develop with the person, so ensuring you are able to form a good rapport is crucial.

If you are going to be relying on your insurance to pay for therapy, don’t forget to check the terms and conditions of your policy. Not all approaches are covered sometimes, so it’s best to verify these details before making any appointments.