My tried and true 7 step method to finding a therapist that fits.
If you think you you may be experiencing a mental health emergency, call the suicide hotline at 988.
7 Steps to Finding a Therapist That Fits
As a performance coach and advocate for mental health, the question I’m asked the most is, “how do I find a therapist?”.
More often than not, the conversation continues with:
Read on for my answers to these questions.
My tried and true 7 step method to finding a therapist that fits
Step 1: Go to Psychology Today’s searchable database.
Step 2: Follow prompts to filter for
Price (sliding scale is an option)
More (ethnicity, sexuality, language, faith)
Step 3: Use the results to search the name of the provider on Google
Locate each provider’s website and read their bio
Step 4: Listen to your gut
As you read through bios, you’ll notice that there are details that resonate with you. You’ll literally feel a connection to some of the providers during this process.
Step 5: Check to ensure that the provider or practice is accepting new patients and that their method of payment is appropriate for your needs.
Step 6: Take notes
Google docs is helpful to use so you can find it later and has the added bonus of adding hyperlinks to your findings, but any method of note taking will work.
Add the names and contact information of the providers that feel right to you so you can refer to them later if needed.
Step 7: Use the provider's contact form to request an appointment
Or call the office during regular business hours.
While you are waiting for your appointment, join #BingingSober! Learn the process that I’ve used to manage my mental health challenges for over 20 years. It’s the perfect way to get started on your journey while you wait for your first appointment and a great way to stay on track while you do the work!
There are so many types of therapy
I've read that all methods of traditional and alternative therapies have similar success rates. As individuals, whatever type of therapy we connect with, we will stick with. It's our consistent drive to do the work that is vital to success. That's what leads to improvements in mental health and personal growth. In my experience, if you educate yourself on the different types of therapy, you will find multiple methods that feel like they’d be a good fit.
What’s most important is your relationship with the therapeutic provider. For this reason, when using the 7 step method I’ve presented above, unless you have a strong indication of what type of therapy fits you best, I recommend leaving that filter blank in Step 1.
Be proactive and preventative!
If your tire is leaking, would you wait until you’re riding on the rim to fix it? No.
Our mental health is a little bit different than car maintenance, but I’m sure you get the point, and I’m also sure there’s more analogies here that we should explore later just for fun!
The point is, the best time to address your mental health concern is now. Do not wait until you’re in crisis. In crisis, the search for a therapist can be frustrating and downright overwhelming. Our mental healthcare system is overworked and underpaid. You may have to wait for an appointment and you may have to try multiple therapists before you settle in for the work. If you're in crisis the process can become dangerous.
The bottom line is, doing the work has been the most rewarding and the greatest adventure of my lifetime. In my decade plus of proactive therapy, when I’m feeling “good” and when “I don’t feel like I need it today”, that's when I'm most excited to go because I've done my best work on those days, every time.
The challenges that take up space in our minds - the ones that make us feel like we "need therapy" - cover the deep stuff. The deep stuff often creates the toxic patterns that can wreak havoc upon our lives (thoughts, actions, behaviors, outcomes) when we’re not paying attention. When we keep working beyond the issues that got us to therapy in the first place, we start to peel back more and more of our layers to reach the innermost parts of ourselves that need healing. This is when the magic happens.
Over the years, I've used various medications short-term and with the proper support
As a society, I think we can all agree that we are facing a lot of challenges with regard to mental health and mental healthcare.
Medication is the least expensive and most accessible way to a “fix”. One of our biggest challenges today is that we’re over prescribed or incorrectly prescribed psychiatric medication. Sometimes from physicians who are trying to help and don't know any better. Sometimes we’re prescribed multiple medications at the same time. A lot of times, these medications haven’t been tested together. All of the time, if you are going to try this method, please start with one at a time, pay attention to your body and to your mind, and take detailed notes about their impact.
I feel comfortable telling you this *not as a physician* but as someone who has been through this exact situation. My psychiatrist prescribed two different medications at once, both of which I'd never tried. I communicated that I didn't feel comfortable starting on two different medications at the same time, that it would make it impossible for me to know what's working. She supported that decision.
YOU are your #1 advocate! Educate yourself, track your usage and dosage, track your progress, and communicate with your doctor.
Throughout my professional education and experience, and my personal experience with using various medications along with therapy (you know I love to gather data on myself!) I've developed a very strong opinion on the subject: There is absolutely a place for medication in mental healthcare. Some of us have chemical imbalances. These change over time and are impacted by what we consume, our genetics, and much more, and the right medication in the right dosage, taken as prescribed can help get us through challenging times.
A big however is that they must be used under the care of a physician and along with other forms of therapy that support our personal growth throughout the healing process. Otherwise, they are a dangerous bandaid.
Whether you try medication or not, I invite you to explore #BingingSober. With practice, you may find that the “issues” that you believe require medication magically disappear.
Join the #BingingSober community via the button at the top of the page and follow @colleenryanhensley and #BingingSober on Instagram.