Local counselor Angela Buttimer explains how to find and select the best therapist for your needs.
A: There are many ways to begin your search for a therapist. I have observed that referrals by those who know us (and that we trust) can be the most effective starting point. The next step (and if you don’t have a personal referral) is to find the therapist’s website to learn more. You can Google “counseling in Atlanta” to begin a web search of experienced therapists in your area. If what you read seems appealing to you, make the call to have a live conversation. During this conversation, you will get a feel for the personhood of this professional as well as get some pragmatic questions answered.
Q: What should I ask during the initial phone call?
A: Potential clients ask many questions like location, price and hours. Be sure to ask about their structure and process. There are as many approaches to psychotherapy as there are psychotherapists. Two different professionals may seem similar in writing but actually have very different processes. For example, some psychotherapists have a strong focus or psychological theory they utilize with all of their clients, while others are more eclectic. Some focus solely on talk therapy, some on experiential, while others incorporate both in the session. Some therapists ask you to do homework between sessions, while others focus more on the process in session.
Q: What’s most important when vetting a therapist?
A: By far, finding a good fit! Psychotherapy is very personal, and it takes courage to take that initial step of self-care. If you spend a few sessions with a therapist and are not feeling comfortable, it is absolutely appropriate to find someone else.
Q: Should my therapist have personal experience with the issues I want to work on?
A: This is not necessary. They are trained professionals. However, it is important that they have professional experience in working with issues and goals similar to yours. So be sure to ask them about their experience and success with these issues.
Q: How is therapy better than talking with my friends?
A: A good therapist will be more objective, professionally trained, and will put aside their needs to focus their complete attention on supporting you.