How to Find a Good Therapist
Periods of emotional distress are a natural (and sometimes unavoidable) part of life’s ups and downs. These are often triggered by a specific life event and, in many cases, resolve by themselves in due course. No matter your situation, it is important to know how to find a good therapist.
Sometimes, however, a situation can become so overwhelming that it seems impossible to move on from without help. When this happens, therapy can be a highly effective mode of treatment for managing and overcoming emotional and psychological problems. But do you know how to find a good therapist? In this article, we’ll be going over some tips so you can find the right match for your individual needs.
Why Do People Seek Therapy?
People seek therapy to help them cope with all sorts of issues, including grief, mental health disorders, stress, anxiety, and depression. Some of the most common reasons why people seek therapy include:
Coping with Grief
The death of a loved one can be earth-shattering, and accepting the reality of that loss may seem impossible at times. People often seek therapy to help them cope with grief and find ways to move forward after a bereavement.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Stress and anxiety are a natural emotional response to various situations and are, unfortunately, an unavoidable facet of human existence. Sometime, these emotions can become so intense that they begin to affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities (such as work, hobbies, or social interaction). If left unchecked, stress and anxiety can eventually lead to a whole host of other long-term health problems.
Therapy can help to identify the root cause of these emotions, while giving people the tools they need to manage them more effectively. For many people, this goes a long way towards helping them overcome stress and anxiety.
Problems in Romantic or Family Relationships
Relationships can be difficult to navigate, and some issues may need a little extra help to resolve. Individual or group therapy can help you to talk through and smooth out problems in your romantic or familial relationships.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by a strong and persistent fear of a specific object or situation. Certain phobias can be highly disruptive to a person’s daily life, and some people may seek therapy as a way to help them to manage their condition.
Other Mental Disorders
Mental health disorders can manifest themselves in many different ways, and can be difficult to diagnose by anyone other than a mental health expert. Some common mental health disorders that can be identified and alleviated by therapy include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Depressive disorder
Substance Abuse Issues
Substance abuse and other unhealthy habits are often part of a wider issue. Alcohol and drugs may be used as a means of temporary escape, but do nothing to address the underlying problem. A therapist can help to tackle addiction and substance abuse problems, while also identifying and addressing the root cause of these self-destructive behaviors.
When You Should Consider Therapy
All sorts of people benefit from therapy. Some signs that you could be one of them include:
- Overwhelming and persistent feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, or hopelessness
- Feeling that your problems are not getting better, despite consistent effort on your behalf and support from friends and family
- Difficulty carrying out daily activities (such as work, socializing with friends, usual hobbies)
- Self-destructive or otherwise harmful habits (such as substance abuse, aggressive behavior, or eating disorders)
Different Types of Therapy
There are dozens of different types of therapy, which can be daunting if you’re unsure where to start. Some types of therapy work best for specific conditions, whereas others have a more general approach that can be used to tackle a wide range of issues.
The main branches of therapy are psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive behavioral, and humanistic therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on uncovering the unconscious motivation behind your actions. This helps the patient learn more about themselves and identify the root causes of their present issues. During psychodynamic therapy you can expect to explore your thoughts and emotions surrounding your relationships, your childhood, your past experiences, and any dreams or fantasies you may have.
Who Benefits From Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy may be used to address the following problems:
- Stress and anxiety
- Addiction issues
- Eating or sleep disorders
Behavioral therapy is an action-based approach that focuses on tackling harmful behavioral patterns. Some of the most common behavioral therapy methods include:
- Systematic desensitization: relaxation techniques are combined with gradual exposure to something you are afraid of.
- Aversion therapy: where you learn to associate an unhealthy behavior with something unpleasant, with the goal of stopping the behavior.
- Flooding: where the patient is suddenly and directly exposed to situations or objects that spark fear.
Who Benefits From Behavioral Therapy?
Behavioral therapy may be an effective way to address:
- Addiction problems
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Stress and anxiety
- Other behavioral issues
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talking therapy, and focuses on replacing negative thought patterns and behaviors with positive ones. This can help people cope with their problems and the difficult emotions they can lead to which, in many cases, leads to people feeling happier overall.
Who Benefits From CBT?
CBT can be used to address a broad range of issues, including:
- Stress and anxiety
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse issues
- Eating and sleep disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
The goal of humanistic therapy is to focus on the life choices of the patient with the aim of finding ways in which they can grow and maximize their life potential. This helps the individual to make meaningful steps towards self-acceptance and can improve their overall life satisfaction.
Humanistic therapy is especially useful for helping people view themselves in a more positive light, and to cope better with negativity and criticism from others.
Who Benefits From Humanistic Therapy?
Humanistic therapy may benefit people with the following issues:
- Poor self-esteem
- Low confidence
- Anxiety or depression
- Relationship issues
- Coping with trauma
What to Look for When Seeking a Therapist
Knowing how to find a good therapist can seem like a colossal task, given how many different types there are out there. In order to help, we’ve broken down the process into two easy steps.
Step 1: Identify Your Issues
If you think you could benefit from seeing a therapist, scheduling an appointment with your doctor is a good first step. They will be able to point you in the direction of the most suitable type of therapy for you based on the specific issues you want to address (for example anxiety, substance abuse issues, etc.).
Step 2: Finding a Good Therapist
Once you have a better idea of the type of therapy you could benefit from, it’s time to find a good practitioner. Follow up on recommendations from your doctor but always do your research first, and make sure you consider the following things:
Experience: Does the therapist have experience in the specific areas you wish to address? Always check their credentials before booking an appointment to make sure they have the skills you need.
Credibility: Pay attention to the qualifications, professional experience, and patient reviews of any therapist you are considering seeing. It is also very important to make sure they have the correct licensing for your state.
Proximity: How accessible is the therapist you are considering? Ideally, you shouldn’t have to travel far for your therapy sessions, but in some areas, your choices may be limited. If you live in an area with few or no therapists, there are options for online therapy that may work for you.
People seek the help of therapists to manage all sorts of common psychological conditions including stress, depression, phobias, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, loss, and other mental health conditions. This is why it is important to know how to find a good therapist. Therapy is rapidly losing its outdated stigma and more people than ever are embracing the treatment as a practical means of coping with life’s difficulties.
It's important to know how to find a good therapist and therapy can be broadly divided in psychodynamic therapy, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and humanistic therapy. The type of therapy that suits you best will depend on your unique needs and goals, so it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about which branch of therapy may be right for you.
- Healthline (When to consult a psychologist)
- WebMD (What are the consequences of long-term stress?)
- Medical News Today (Everything you need to know about phobias)
- American Psychological Association (Understanding psychotherapy and how it works)
- American Psychological Association (Different approaches to psychotherapy)
- NHS (Benefits of talking therapy)
- Psychologist-License.com (Psychologist licensing process)