How to Find a Good Therapist? A Beginner's Guide

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How to find a good therapist?

Today, mental health is an important subject. A topic that was shunned away a few years ago is slowly coming into the mainstream. With increasing conversation around emotional and mental wellness, the stigma attached to mental health illnesses and depression is slowly being eliminated. 

More people are coming out of their shell, speaking about their underlying issues and are ready to seek help. Celebrities and influencers too have been actively raising awareness around mental health issues which is giving people the courage to “SPEAK”. But for some people, seeking therapy can still feel taboo. In our country, community and family, there is a lot of scepticism towards western psychology. Now is the time for this mentality to change.

Why Is It Okay to Seek Counselling? 

For those who are unaware, seeking psychotherapy doesn’t mean that you have been diagnosed with a mental health problem. It simply means that you need some extra support, another perspective, or expert guidance that only professionally-trained therapists or counsellors can provide.

It’s normal to seek therapy for everyday concerns too such as relationship issues, job stress, financial problems, self-doubt, parenting difficulties and family struggles. 

Sharing your thoughts with someone who not just listens to you but also cares for you can be downright therapeutic. They often get to the root of the problem to make positive changes in your life. 

If you’re considering therapy, the first hurdle you need to cross is finding the right therapist. There are many platforms out there offering free online therapy, but finding the one which fits the bill is important. It is an overwhelming process. Therefore, we have some valuable insights which will help you find the right therapist

How to Find the Right Therapist?

Finding a therapist who can help you heal is a daunting task. Imagine, you have to pour your heart out to this person! Many people even visit a few counsellors before getting comfortable with one. Finding the right care can feel a little like looking for a partner for marriage. You meet different individuals before zeroing down on the right match for you. The search for a therapist is similar. However, don’t be intimidated. We have some great insights and tips that will help you find a therapist with whom you can establish a genuine connection.

Let’s get started!

1. Research

If you’re new to the world of psychotherapy, you’ve got to start with some research. There are a number of mental health organizations that have a reliable online database of licensed therapists. You could make a list and then conduct in-depth research on each of them. Another way of finding the right therapist is asking someone you trust. A colleague, a family member or a doctor who has undergone therapy before should be able to help you. Referrals always work. However, it’s important to recognise that your counselling needs and goals may be different. 

2. Consider the Therapy Options

To a layman, therapy may seem like a one-size-fits-all deal. However, it’s far from it. As mentioned earlier, every individual’s needs are different and thus psychologists, clinical social workers and counsellors take a number of different approaches to talk therapy. Even before you choose a therapist, understand the treatment types that exist:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

     In cognitive therapy, the therapist works towards changing negative thought patterns, emotions and behaviors. This approach involves a lot of homework and worksheets.  
  • Client-centred Therapy

    In person-centered therapy, the client/patient is required to take an active role in his/her treatment while the therapist is only empathetic. 
  • Existential Therapy

    As the name implies, existential therapy focuses on the human condition as a whole. It helps a patient search for the meaning and authenticity of life. While it encourages us to take responsibility for our successes, it also explores things from a philosophical perspective. 
  • Psychodynamic Therapy

    This is the traditional Freudian talk which most people are familiar with. Here unconscious thoughts and feelings are addressed. 
  • Gestalt Therapy

    A gestalt therapist focuses on the here and now, and the present. They use environmental and social contexts of an individual’s life to draw conclusions and form meaning. This form of therapy involves a lot of role-play exercises. 
  • Family Therapy

     A family counsellor usually treats more than one family member at the same time to resolve common conflicts. 
  • Group Therapy

    If there are a group of individuals dealing with a similar problem such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse, a lot of professional therapists resort to group therapy.   
  • Marriage Counselling:

    Couples therapy is a major thing these days. When two individuals committed in a relationship are going through ups and downs, they seek therapy to work through their differences, communicate better and strive to make their marriage work. 

3. Check Experience & Licencing

In therapy, experience matters. Look for a therapist who has experience in treating problems similar to yours. Also, check if the therapist has any special area of focus such as depression, anxiety or abuse. Make sure the therapist holds a valid practitioner’s licence. You could also read reviews online. 

4. Discuss Budget

Seeking therapy can be expensive. Thus, even before you sign-up with a depression therapist, discuss their charges. If you are trying online therapy, they are usually transparent with their rates. Also, it’s more convenient and affordable than in-person therapy. Owing to the COVID-induced lockdown, a lot of people who were already amidst their therapy sessions took the digital route to continue their counselling. 

5. Empathy is a Key Quality

A therapist is required to walk-the-talk with you. Look for someone who can empathise with you. They also need to understand where you’re coming from. Their approach towards your conversation and actions (past, present or future) should be completely non-judgemental. It’s important for him/her to be a good listener while you vent but there are also some therapists that are more active and tend to offer coping skills and feedback as you speak.

When you are trying to make an early connection with your therapist, check if they are mentally present during the session and are paying attention to what you say. If you have to repeat the same things to your counsellor multiple times, it can be frustrating. When your therapist shows genuine love and care, you will be in a better position, to be honest without feeling criticized or judged. 

Pro Tip: During your initial few consultations, you will be able to gauge if your therapist is a good listener or not. Consider your gut feeling. 

6. Look for Ethics

The best counselling therapists understand the importance of confidentiality and safety. Even before you begin your consultation process, make sure the professional is able to offer you a safe space. It is important to discuss the therapy process and techniques even before the session begins. Also, under no circumstances they should discuss any aspect of your treatment or diagnosis with another professional or family member. If required by law, seeking your permission is of utmost importance. 

7. Go with your Gut & Never Settle

A few weeks into therapy, you should feel supported and hopeful. If you still don’t feel like your therapist is someone you can open up to, maybe you should look for someone who understands your needs better. It’s all about trusting your gut and there’s no harm to switch from one therapist to another. You ultimately want someone to hear you out without making you feel guilty or being judgemental. Once you’ve found a competent counselling therapist, you can work together to come up with plans and strategies that will improve your existing life and current scenario.  

5-Factor formula to choose the right therapist

Finding a good therapist is like looking for a romantic partner. There has to be certain compatibility and rapport before you begin counselling. Watch out for these five factors:

#1 Credibility matters

Check for the therapist or counsellor’s knowledge, credentials and past experience.

#2 What is their therapy style?

Every therapist has a unique style. Check their website for details or speak to someone who has already been to him/her before. 

#3 Are they empathetic and easy to understand?

The way a therapist talks is extremely important. You want them to understand you and vice-versa. If they tend to use complicated language or industry jargon, they may not be the right fit. 

#4 Consider a Specialist

A depression therapist is different from a family counsellor. Even before you seek therapy, choose someone who can address your needs best. 

#5 Trust your gut

Psychotherapy is extremely personal and thus trusting your gut is important. Speak to your chosen therapist a few times, notice if they are empathetic and most importantly if you feel comfortable with them. If all is well, stay, otherwise shop around. 

Best Psychologists in India for Therapy Counselling

With the world becoming more aware of mental health, there are a lot of people both young and old seeking therapy from professionals. To help you make a sound decision, here’s a list of the best psychologists in India:

  • Dr. Subin Vazhayil, Kerala – Speciality includes psychotherapy, stress management coaching and premarital counselling. 
  • Dr. Kamna Chhibber, New Delhi – Speciality includes clinical psychology, performance management, employee engagement and stress management. 
  • Dr. Rashi Bijlani, New Delhi – Speciality includes dance therapy, cognitive therapy and group therapy.   
  • Dr. Mimansa Singh, West Delhi – Speciality includes clinical psychology, family therapy and counselling. 
  • Dr. Syeda Arifa Tasneem, Bangalore – Recognised for her seminars on stress management. She is an expert in clinical psychology, family therapy and anger management.  
  • Tanu Choksi, Mumbai – Specialises in couple therapy, group therapy, individual therapy and child therapy. 
  • Mansi Poddar, Kolkata – Certified anger management therapist, marital therapist and narrative therapist. She specialises in cognitive therapy too. 
  • Ms. Vandhana, Chennai – Speciality includes clinical psychology, marital and family counselling and alcohol, drug and behavioural deaddiction. 

Making the first move towards seeking therapy is a huge step. Remember, things won’t happen overnight. The road to finding a good therapist is full of twists and turns. However, if you’re patient, you’ll find one sooner than you can think. Consulting a therapist is a two-way street. If you’re seeking some form of remedy, guidance, or plan, you have to cooperate with your therapist from day one. When you focus on the overall progress of your sessions, you’ll come out of it feeling stronger. 

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