Everyone doesn’t get along with everyone.
When looking for a therapist that you are likely to share your most private thoughts with, just like a spouse, you’ll want just the right person. The best therapist for you can mean the difference between growth and results or frustration and dead ends. You’re not expected to click with everyone and that includes a potential therapist. Sometimes people just rub you the wrong way and sometimes you might notice that you’re not seeing a lot of progress during your therapeutic process. This is no one’s fault; it’s just the natural order of things. A good therapist will understand if you want to make changes and will not create guilt or shame for you in anyway.
If you do have a conflict with a therapist, for any reason: i.e., you can’t find a time that works for your appointments, you don’t get along with each other’s personality, or you don’t feel like you’re making any progress; it is extremely important to bring it up with that therapist. Be sure to address any issues you are having with them, even if it is really uncomfortable. Not only will it be a good therapeutic experience for your own growth, you may also be surprised at their response. They may be willing to adjust or accommodate to your specific situation. It will also allow the therapist to do their own introspection; they may decide to remain the same or to change for their future clients, based on your constructive feedback. It could also be helpful to consider this for all professional relationships you may be struggling with: lawyers, doctors, baby-sitters, plumbers, etc.
When looking for a new therapist, there are a few things to consider as you narrow down your choices. Ask friends, family, trusted coworkers for referrals. Ask them about their experience with the therapist and what they like or don’t like about them. See if you can determine if their particular way of practicing therapy would be helpful for you. If you decide to go with a therapist recommended by someone you know, it is be important to inform the new therapist that you know another of their clients. They likely will not confirm or deny their knowledge of your friend, but it is important information to keep both you and your friend within professional and legal boundaries of confidentiality. They will not talk about you to each other and will follow specific guidelines when your issues in therapy may intersect.
Another option for finding a therapist is to look online. There are vast resources on the Internet and it is important to make sure you are using quality sites to find someone that is well credentialed. Look at the organizations that support therapists such as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and Psychology Today. These types of sites will list credentials and specialties. Therapists must pay to participate and the sites have checking systems to make sure the information someone provides is accurate. You can also call (or sometimes email) a therapist directly to ask about their education and training. This also gives you an idea about their personality and business practices. How professional were they on the phone? How long did they take to call you back?
A third choice is to visit their individual website. Good therapists will have lots of information about the types of therapy they do and they style of therapy they utilize. Do they focus on children, adults, or both? Do they practice individual or relational therapy? Do they have a focus on emotions or behavior? Do they specialize in your specific struggle? These questions and many others are all things to consider when determining if a therapist will be a good fit for you.
Different therapists have different styles and strengths that may or may not match with your wants or needs. The first thing to confirm is that they are licensed to practice in the specific field and in your specific state. Then, it’s all down to your comfort level and your needs in addressing the issues you plan to work on in therapy. It’s ok to try out a few different therapists and make your choice after you learn who is best for you.