Tips on what to consider when deciding who is the right Therapist for you.
It can be stressful looking for a therapist. On top of the million and one things you already have going on, now you have to intentionally make a decision to hand pick a person to share your darkest, deepest experiences and feelings with, and at that, a complete stranger. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it, at some point, we all need a therapist. “Life be lifing” and at some point, we all need a sounding board, someone to safely confide in and someone who can give us the healthiest insight and feedback possible without being biased.
Many people lack meaningful relationships to the point where they feel completely safe to be vulnerable and transparent in ALL aspects of their lives. That is heavy! We wouldn’t want to necessarily place all of that pressure on our loved ones because let’s face it, they have their own mess going on. Although family and friends can represent effective sounding boards and support for various life struggles, that is not always the only dynamic that may be required. We may need an outside source, a third party who is academically trained to implement various techniques and interventions to help you move through this thing called life. To add icing to the cake, SURPRISE! Not only have therapists been academically and clinically trained to do what they do, but they are also people. If you haven’t guessed already, being a person is essential in relating to another person. This brings relatability in the picture but in order to hone in on who the perfect therapist for you may be, you must consider your individual style coupled with the type of people you have felt most comfortable with thus far in your life. I would say that relatability with my clients 100% helps to cultivate the most effective relationships. It harvests vulnerability and most importantly, it yields great results that help my clients improve their quality of life, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Please pick your person (your therapist) wisely. Here are a few things to consider when trying to decide on a therapist:
1. Race. As much as society is pushing for a diverse cultivation of human interaction, in certain areas of our lives, we should be somewhat choosy with the race card. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but there are simply things that I cannot relate to a white, Asian, or Hispanic client with. I am black and although I serve clients from varying backgrounds, I find that my black clients feel super comfortable with me. I present myself the same in every single session no matter what race my client is, but it is apparent that there are “what’s understood doesn’t have to be explained” dynamics going on in sessions with a lot of my black clients. They can attend their virtual sessions in a bonnet or could be taking out their knotless braids and I can understand that this is the only hour out of the week they may have to tend to themselves. They feel safe enough to speak to me about their emotions and in addition to that, safe enough to not look like what they feel is their best because their therapist is another black woman who understands what’s going on here. This has also come in handy when using colloquialisms because from one black person to another black person, culturally we are connected in many ways. I had one client tell me “I need a black therapist to help me with my black problems”, a statement so simple yet in practice, can be very profound. So, when considering who your therapist will be, reflect on race, who you can relate to, and what the representation of you feeling comfortable with sitting in vulnerability may look like.
2. Biography. Do your research people! I’m not saying stalk the potential therapists, I am simply saying read their bios on provider directories, their websites, and on LinkedIn. What are they saying about client care? What are their areas of expertise and what interventions are they trained in? These are all things not to be taken lightly because you want the most efficient care possible. You could also research what they may say about how their personal experiences speak to their practice and expertise. I think you may be more inclined to go to a marriage counselor if in fact you know they are married. You may not, but this may be a deciding factor between two potential providers you are considering.
3. Referrals. Word of mouth and reviews you may see on Google are just as important in your decision-making process when choosing a therapist. This will help you gauge their performance and likability with real life people. One of the best compliments a person working in whatever field of customer service could receive is a great review. This means that people actually took the time out to share their experiences knowing that other people may use that review to determine whether or not they too will decide to patronize this business. In contrast, be sure to also take into account the not so good reviews. These reviews may not be a real representation of that provider but they are certainly worth considering.
Obviously, this is not an all-inclusive list but I can certainly say that it is a great start when deciding how you will choose the person who will essentially be your “diary”. Choose wisely!