Deciding to go to therapy might be one of the best things you ever do for yourself. Personal therapy is not only for individuals in crisis or who are experiencing mental health problems. On the contrary, in my experience as a Psychotherapist clients come to therapy for a diverse range of reasons. Most need a space to feel seen and heard, some are experiencing life changes, others wish to talk about relationships, to feel motivated, address trauma, overcome fear, seeking inspiration or psycho-education – the individual reasons for starting therapy are diverse.
Therapy can be the perfect space for personal development with the support of a professional who can help you achieve your goals, only faster. When finding a therapist, people often make the mistake of attending the wrong therapist in the right location or the right therapist in the wrong location and find themselves feeling that ‘therapy did not work the last time’, a saying I hear regularly from new clients.
Finding the right Psychotherapist can feel mind boggling when you are not exactly sure what you are looking for. A therapist who provides general counselling might be just what you need if you want help with general everyday life stress or work life balance.
Here are some straightforward things to consider to help you narrow down your search and find the right Psychotherapist for you.
There are thousands of accredited Counsellors, Psychotherapists and mental health professionals across Ireland each trained in various psychotherapy models and specialist fields from depression and trauma to individuals, couples and family therapy. Save yourself a lot of time in the long run by finding a therapist who specialises in the specific problem or area you feel you need help with.
For example, if you want to talk about a sexual problem then seek out a therapist who works specifically in sexual problems and sex therapy. If you want help to overcome an addiction and start a recovery process, then find a therapist who specialises in addictions. Maybe you and your partner want to improve your relationship or separate amicably then find an excellent relationship psychotherapist to guide you through the process. There are many areas of expertise in psychotherapy which means a recommendation from your GP or a friend is not always a good way to find your therapist.
Most Psychotherapists who specialise in various fields also provide general counselling but many therapists who provide general counselling do not specialise in specific fields. Now with the internet you can find and profile many experienced therapists and websites to find the right professional. The benefits of online counselling also mean you could potentially access a therapist who may be practicing in another country but that you feel have the experience you are looking for. Expect to pay more for Psychotherapists who specialise as you are paying for their experience, expertise and training. It could save you money and time in the long term.
When choosing a therapist consider that you may be spending weeks, months or maybe year’s working with your therapist. Many people find being in therapy so valuable that they choose to continue on an ongoing basis dipping in and out of therapy over time. Convenient access to your chosen therapist is an important factor and should be up there on your priority list so that you can attend regularly.
Ideally you want to make getting to appointments as stress free as possible, arriving stressed is counterproductive. Even consider allocating time after your session so that you can get a coffee or have a short walk to process your thoughts and feelings on your own.
Traveling an hour to a therapist may seem fine in the early stages but longer term it becomes inconvenient and unrealistic. You may find yourself having to start all over again with a new therapist which is frustrating and time consuming. Many therapists provide online therapy which means that accessibility and location no longer restrict people accessing the right therapist in the comfort of their own home.
Trust Your Gut
Therapists are people too with different personalities, traits and life experience. Just like in the real world sometimes we just don’t feel a connection with someone for no particular reason or maybe for a very specific reason. Possibly you saw a therapist already but did not feel at ease with that person or their practice on that day. If that happened, that’s OK, it’s natural, find another one. Don’t just give up there. Therapists are trained to be professional, ethical and approachable but even so it is human nature that your personalities or experience may just be incompatible for you to be able to really open up in the therapy room.
The client therapist therapeutic relationship takes time to develop, weeks at a minimum, psychotherapy is a therapeutic process after all. If, however your intuition and gut reaction is strong and tells you this therapist is not a good fit for you after two or three sessions then find another therapist. This time being even more specific in your search. Trust your gut but also give the relationship time to develop. Just as the therapist is learning about you, you are learning about them and how they work.
Finding the right therapist can save you a lot of time and money and really help you achieve your desired goals in a shorter space of time. Some other things to take into consideration when finding a therapist are if you would prefer a male or female therapist, affordability, agreeing to cancellation policies, age gaps and level of expertise. If you are attending therapy through your private health insurance provider, you may have no choice who you are referred to. You may need to balance up working with that therapist in the short term at no cost or choosing to see a therapist you find privately instead.
Finding the right therapist ultimately depends on your individual circumstances and what you want to achieve out of therapy. Just like relationships, it takes time to develop the connection so be open to opening up.