So you’ve decided to seek outside, professional help…now what? First of all, kudos to you for being willing to accept professional help to deal with your life’s stressors. Even getting to this point of acceptance can be challenging, especially if you’re typically someone who has considered themselves capable of solving your own problems—and have been effective thus far, without outside intervention! Many people can find choosing a psychologist to be initially overwhelming, and that’s normal. Listed below are some things to consider when choosing a psychologist:
Consider asking for recommendations
You can ask for recommendations from any of your trusted healthcare providers, church, local community center, friends, family members, co-workers, etc. As the stigma for mental treatment has decreased, more Americans are seeking out mental health therapy, so if you’re comfortable asking, consider inquiring from those around you. Your primary care physician or other healthcare provider may also be able to make some recommendations to help streamline the process.
It can be helpful to call around and do brief, 5-10 minute interviews with potential psychologists over the phone. Most psychologists will spend time providing free, brief phone consultations to assess your motivations for treatment and tentative goals. Some questions you may want to consider asking during your interview include the follow:
- Are you a licensed psychologist? How many years have you been practicing?
- What are your areas of expertise?
- Do you have experience helping people who struggle with my symptoms/problems?
- What kinds of treatment(s) do you provide, and can you tell me how they have been proven effective for dealing with my types of problems?
- How long are sessions and what are your fees?
- Do you accept insurance? If you do not accept insurance, can you provide me with a treatment receipt I can submit to my insurance company?
If you run out of time during your initial phone consultation to ask all of these questions, don’t worry, you can always delve further into them during your initial evaluation.
Therapy works best when the psychologist and client work well together.
Your provider cannot work harder than you, because at the end of the day, it’s your treatment! However, they can give 100%, as long as you give the same. Therapy also works well when there is a good match between the client and psychologist. Therefore, once the psychologist’s credentials and competence have been established, it’s important to pay attention to your level of personal comfort and rapport with that psychologist, because good rapport is critical for making positive behavioral changes. It may take up to three sessions to develop good rapport with your psychologist, so be patient, and also pay attention to how you feel with them. Provide feedback to them, and be honest with yourself. If it doesn’t feel like a good match, it is your right to terminate therapy and find another provider.