The new year is often a time that we think about fresh starts, making changes to aspects of life or ourselves that we are unhappy with or turning over a new leaf in the way we relate to those who are important in our lives.
If you, your child or family, are stuck in unhealthy and destructive patterns that impact your life and relationships, now may be a good time to consider working with a mental health professional to make real and lasting positive change.
What should you look for in a therapist?
The first step in getting help is typically the most challenging. Choosing a therapist can be anxiety-provoking. Afterall, this is someone you will be sharing the most personal details of your life with.
Finding a mental health professional with whom you can build a relationship based in trust is key to the success of any therapeutic intervention and the path to healing.
With more than three decades of treating especially vulnerable populations – children, adults and families who have experienced trauma and struggle with attachment-related issues – we at Evergreen Psychotherapy Center know that our first priority needs to be establishing trust. We make our clients part of the treatment team and ensure they have a voice. From day one, everyone knows what to expect. We partner to create positive change by using a four-step model of assessing, setting goals, developing the treatment method and reassessing. Clients can be confident that every aspect of treatment is based on extensive research and experience, oriented toward their growth and evolution.
But what about before day one?
This is when the individual who is seeking help can look for qualities that build trust. Steps you can take include:
- Determine if the provider is competent and qualified – By doing some research in advance (the American Psychological Association, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists are examples of organizations that can provide resources.) or by visiting provider websites, you can learn about a therapist’s qualifications and education, licensing, how much experience they have, their area of expertise and more. It is important that you feel confident that a provider has the professional knowledge and skills to treat you.
- Gather referrals and reviews – A personal recommendation can sometimes tell you the most.
- Look for expertise – Most therapists are pretty well trained in treating common mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. But if you’re struggling with something specific (like early childhood trauma), look for someone who specializes in that particular issue.
- Learn about a provider’s treatment philosophy and methods – In most cases, a mental health professional will provide an overview of their services and interventions on their website. It is helpful to ascertain in advance whether the therapist’s approach would be a good match for your personality and the issues you are struggling with.
- Be aware of your personal preferences – Would you be most comfortable working with a provider of a certain gender or background, for example?
- Schedule an initial consultation – Use the first appointment to ask questions that are important to you and get a sense of the provider’s responsiveness. They should inform you about what you can expect in sessions such as the structure, timeline, level of interaction, expectations, goals, etc. This first impression can tell you a lot about what your relationship might look like moving forward.
- Check for affordability – If financing sessions with a particular therapist is going to add stress to your life, keep looking. Find out about insurance, out-of-pocket options, or whether the provider will work with Medicare or Medicaid programs.
Finally, never settle. If after a few sessions, you do not feel that you could build a positive and trusting relationship with your therapist, there is nothing wrong with changing providers. You may need to meet with a few before finding the right fit. Don’t stop until you find someone who genuinely seems to care about helping you and makes you feel understood and accepted.
If you are looking for help to make positive changes in the year ahead, do not hesitate to contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org
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