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Choosing a therapist will most likely be one of the most important decision that I make in moving my life in a more permanently positive direction. This time I did not make the choice lightly. In this series of posts I will fully describe the process that I used to find my therapist, and explain why I think it might work for you too.
You can read the other parts of this post first, if you haven’t already:
- Part 1 – Outlines the different treatment options for PTSD and general research resources to assist in finding a good therapist or counselor.
- Part 2 – A list of factors to consider when choosing your therapist.
My Monster’s Step-by-Step Guide to Finding an Awesome Therapist
After doing a good amount of research and reading a lot of articles on how to find a good therapist, I have gathered up a good amount of notes from my main research resources. I have taken these notes and organized them into a cohesive step-by-step action plan that you can use to attempt to find an awesome therapist, because let’s be honest – “good” just isn’t good enough here.
- Treatment Type – Decide on the main issue(s) you are seeking treatment for – try to keep the list to three main issues or less. For me it was simple – PTSD.
- Ask for References – Seek out family and friends who have sought treatment for a similar condition and treat them as a great resource. Ask them if they have any recommendations of specific counselors you can research further. You might also consider asking them if they are comfortable answering any questions that you may have about the process.
- Decide on a Provider Type – If you haven’t already, start to get a general sense of what type of provider you are looking for, just as a starting point. I wouldn’t be too strict on this — really you are looking for a person who has experience with your issues and that you feel has potential, regardless of their title. Read How to Find a Therapist from WebMD from the first post in this series for a full explanation of each title. There are many types of service providers, such as:
- Social workers
- Counselors and Therapists
- And a slew of alternative providers that can be used in conjunction with the above, such as: acupuncturists, chiropractors, fitness instructors, herbalists, homeopathic practitioners, hypnotists, life coaches, massage therapists, physicians, and yoga instructors.
- Create a Potentials List – To compile this list, here are a few ideas:
- On the top of the list put any referrals you may have received from family and friends.
- Research available therapists in your area using a search engine, such as Google, or your local telephone book. I prefer the Internet because there are usually more details available. Use keywords for your search: “My Issue” + Treatment/Therapists/Counselors + “My City and State” would make a great starting place. So examples that you could input into your search engine: “PTSD Treatment in My City”, “PTSD Therapists in My City”, or “PTSD Counselors in My City”, you get the gist.
- Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist tool – This is an invaluable resource that I personally relied on heavily to locate my current therapist. I highly recommend using it. It can help you find a provider in your area based on: issues, sexuality, age, religion, gender and insurance accepted. Try not to be influenced by the photos. Other similar tools to the one above that I have not personally used:
- At this step in the process you are not trying to assess the therapists that you find. You are only creating a simple list of providers who have experience treating your specific issue and are within about 60 miles.
- Have a goal of narrowing your list down to about 5-10 strong prospects that look “good on paper”. If you are in a more isolated area, you may have fewer choices and that’s fine – they are still choices.
- Your goal is to further narrow down your list to at most 5 potential providers.
- Make notes about each conversation and the providers answers so you can reference it later. Also make note of anything your gut tells you during the call.
- Some providers will not be open to a quick telephone interview so you will have to set an initial appointment with these providers instead. Many offer a free 30 minute introductory session if you ask and explain you are conducting interviews to find a potential therapist.
In the next post I will detail how to interview potential providers and share my personal interview questionnaire that you can use during interviews. Also lots of tips about what I learned about PTSD therapy options during my own process.