How To Find The Right Therapist

Wow! How to find the right therapist can be a slog.  When my wife found a therapist she wanted to work with, she discovered after a few sessions that because the therapist was in her twenties and Lisa was in her fifties, they weren’t a good match.

The young woman just couldn’t grasp the issues Lisa was dealing with.

But within a day, Lisa found another therapist she wound up working with for a year and Lisa felt satisfied they resolved the issues she was dealing with.

But there are other options besides working with a therapist.

Finding the right therapist or therapy is a journey...

Finding the right therapist or therapy is a journey…

For starters, let’s look at the types of therapy according to my viewpoint as someone who has had his share of issues to deal with (and I have used all three options).

As far as I’m concerned, there are three types of therapy.

  • Therapy with yourself;
  • Therapy with someone else; and,
  • Therapy with a group.

That’s it.

Yes, there are dozens of different theories about therapy; which kind of emphasis or what type of process…but there really is no “one size fits all.”  Finding a really effective therapist or group is way more important than what style of therapy they use.

Find a therapist or group you’re comfortable with…

The most important thing is to find the therapist or group that you feel comfortable with.  That you can be open with.  That you are willing to accept feedback from when they challenge your preconceived notions or your distorted thinking.

And I guarantee you that if you are struggling with relationships (whether those relationships are with people, processes or objects), there is distorted thinking of some kind involved.  And/or you need medication.

I needed therapy for my distorted thinking and an antidepressant for my anxiety and depression.  The therapy was painful but necessary and the antidepressant got me through it.  I’m still taking the antidepressant.  It’s been a miracle.  Just ask my wife.

In fact, I can tell you from personal experience that for me, getting on an antidepressant was the best thing that ever happened to me, including marrying Lisa (and she agrees 100% with that statement).

Let’s look at the therapy options…

Therapy with yourself is a lonely and potentially tragic journey...

Therapy with yourself is a lonely and potentially tragic path…

Therapy with yourself…

This is a tough one and usually a mistake.  As they say, “a doctor who treats their self has a fool for a patient.”

That doesn’t mean that people haven’t turned their own lives around by themselves.  But it requires a lot of humility and a willingness to challenge yourself in all areas of your life.

Especially the areas other people have been brave enough to point out to you.

I’ve read dozens of “pop psychology” self-help books.  Most of them were a complete waste of time.  Either they claimed to be able to fix everyone with their “miracle fix,” (which isn’t possible since one size definitely doesn’t fit all) or it was more mumbo-jumbo than science.


One thing I’ve used by myself that has helped me along the path…

I’m a philosophical Buddhist, not a religious one.  Buddhism offers plenty of options for refocusing your life and your mind.  You can find several excellent books by Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist nun.  (My favorite is The Places That Scare You.)  But like any self-administered relief, it takes patience, discipline, and humility; a combination few of us enjoy.


Therapy with someone else…

How to find the right therapist is a journey...

Therapy with someone else requires trust…

One of the common jokes in Minnesota is that we are the land of 10,000 therapists.  You can’t throw a rock without hitting someone in the therapy field.  But we also have very low suicide rates, especially considering the long and miserable winters we have here.

How to find the right therapist

Finding the right therapist requires exploration.  Because it’s not just finding a therapist you are comfortable with; your therapist also must feel comfortable with you.

Questions to ask your potential therapist after you’ve discussed your issues:

  • Have they ever worked with anyone with similar issues?
  • How do they usually work with their patient? Processes?
  • How much do they charge?
  • Do they take your insurance?
  • If you don’t have insurance and money is tight, ask if they have a sliding scale.

Questions to NOT ask:

  • How long will this take?
  • Can you fix me?
  • How much therapy will you give me for x amount of dollars?

Lastly, if you work with this therapist for a while and you don’t feel comfortable working with them, don’t hesitate to tell them so.  It may be best to change therapists or change your interaction.  Or even the setting.

Any of these solutions may be fine with your therapist.  Or not.

Therapy with a group…

You can find listings of groups online.  There are groups for almost any type of issue.  Or just general groups based on gender, religious beliefs or culture.

Most groups are self-funded.  Usually, everyone kicks in a few dollars at each meeting to pay for the venue or coffee or whatever.

Group therapy can be rewarding but sometimes prickly...

Group therapy can be rewarding but sometimes prickly…

Finding the right therapy group

Finding the right group can take time.  It all comes down to whether you feel comfortable with the people in the group and whether you feel any of them have experiences reasonably close to yours so there is some common ground.

And by experiences, I don’t necessarily mean your issues.  I’m speaking to life experiences.  Culture clashes based on socio-economic background or religious beliefs can sometimes lead to problems.

However, keep in mind that associating and sharing with people different from you can also bring new perspectives to your problems that might never be considered by people you might commonly associate with.

I mean, let’s face it, if the people you normally associate with were helping you, you wouldn’t be looking for help somewhere else.

If you have questions or suggestions or advice to others in this situation, please do not hesitate to comment below.  Or if you think I’m full of monkey doo, you can say that too.  Thank you in advance for your comments.

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