How to Find the Right Psychotherapist

Whether there are many qualified, licensed people in your area or only a few to choose from, it is very difficult to select a therapist. This article will make this process easier and safer. Many therapists believe in the healing value of therapy, but a lot of attempts to get help go awry, and this article will protect you from that.


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    Write a paragraph describing why you need a therapist. Don't worry about getting this "correct"--it isn't a school assignment or a test. It's even okay to come back to this question and revise your answer. The nature of your problem affects the type of therapist you seek out.
    • Do you have a specific problem with your behavior? Perhaps you need a cognitive-behavioral therapist, someone trained in Gestalt techniques, or a solutions-oriented therapist.
    • If your problem has to do with your personality, you may want a psychoanalyst or humanist.
    • Your paragraph should answer these questions: How long do you want to be in therapy? How long should your therapist work with their clients?
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    List qualities you would like your therapist to have. If the therapist doesn't have these qualities, you should keep looking. Remember that you are the employer and they are the employee. You are not obligated to keep seeing a therapist because you made an appointment with them. You are allowed to stop at any point and keep looking until you find the right therapist.
    • You should not stop seeing a therapist for frivolous reasons.
    • Some good qualities you may want to specify can be: gender, sexual orientation, location in the city, religious beliefs, socioeconomic level, racial or ethnic identity, military service, political beliefs, or whether they take insurance.
    • Don't overlook your financial and practical concerns.
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    Discuss what makes you want to leave with your therapist. Many people are not assertive enough with their therapist, and don't talk about these things with them. This is a huge error. They may continue seeing a therapist while feeling they are not being helped.
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    Find out if they have a sliding scale. Most therapists provide service to everyone in their communities, regardless of financial situation, and don't practice therapy solely for personal gain.
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    Be aware that there are unlicensed therapists. Some of them are highly skilled people who just have terrible luck trying to pass exams. Others are con artists who will do anything they can to strip as much money from your bank account as possible.
    • There are respectable people offering therapy (like pastors) who have little training. It's called spiritual guidance or pastoral counseling.
    • You can go online and locate the agency in your state that licenses therapists. You can then find out if the therapist you interviewed is licensed or not, and even if they have been disciplined for ethics violations in some states. The office that licenses therapists is usually under Consumer Affairs.
    • Decide whether it matters if your therapist is licensed. Until you are experienced as a client, it's best to be with someone who has the formal training.
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    The most important factor is empathy. Do you feel like your therapist listens to you and understands what you have to say? Do they make suggestions or offer interpretations that seem helpful--without giving you advice or trying to control your life? Do you feel like they have a deep understanding of what is going on in your life? Do you feel like they can help your future be less painful? If you feel this way about your therapist, their work is effective.
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    Avoid unethical therapists. They might offer you things that violate laws and professional boundaries. This type of behavior can be reported to the licensing board.
    • A therapist should never tell you what to do with a difficult situation. They should never say "divorce him" or "stay with her, she needs you."
    • A therapist should never become socially involved with the people in your life. In fact, if you accidentally encounter your therapist outside therapy, they are expected to quietly leave. Therapy needs to be kept separate from all other relationships.
    • Your therapist should never engage in any business enterprise with you or other clients. This also includes loaning or borrowing money.
    • Your therapist should never ask you to pay your your therapy with anything other than money.
    • Most importantly, a therapist should never flirt with you, touch you inappropriately, or engage in any type of sexual or romantic behavior with you.
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    Leave a therapist who abuses the professional boundaries. They won't be able to help you anymore, even if it feels like they can, once that trust is broken. A therapist should have the professional boundary as counselor set in place from beginning to end.
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    How do you know who is good and bad? Sort it out as best you can. Use your mind, use your gut, and allow your intuition a voice as well as your brain. If you see any signs of the lines being crossed, leave immediately. Don't allow yourself to be hurt or demeaned by a therapist. You deserve to heal correctly. When you find the right therapist, you will heal and become a better person.

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Categories: Health Care | Psychology Studies