How to Find the Right Therapist- from a Group Practice Owner in Castle Rock, Colorado
If you’re ready to search for a new therapist, you may have already realized that the search can feel a little daunting! Between giant therapy companies buying up all the Google Ads, endless clinical jargon, and therapist profile pictures that clearly haven’t been updated in 15 years… it’s enough to make you want to give up!
But… I promise that finding the right therapist makes the whole process worth it! And we have some tips that can make your search go more smoothly.
Start with your Must-Haves
First, think about the things that you absolutely need to have in a therapist. Some common must-haves to consider:
1. Schedule: Perhaps your work schedule or other commitments dictate when you can go to therapy. If your therapist doesn’t work during your available times, chances are you won’t be able to stay with them long. Also consider other relevant schedules in your family that would affect when you can attend therapy.
2. Insurance and/or budget: If you know that your insurance covers outpatient mental health and need to use your benefits, you’ll want to specifically search for in-network providers. I would recommend staying away from the insurance companies’ own directories, as they are rarely updated and you’ll hit lots of dead ends. Instead, focus on searching therapy directories (we’ll get more into that in a bit!).
You may also realize fairly quickly that many therapists don’t accept insurance at all. This is for many reasons, including poor reimbursement rates and a significant amount of restrictions insurance plans place on therapy. And it also results in many of the insurance-accepting therapists always running on a waitlist. So if it’s feasible, you may want to consider paying out of pocket to find the right fit.
As you begin your search, browse private pay rates to get a sense of what is a realistic budget expectation in your area. While rates vary widely across the country, many therapists are anywhere from $100-180 per session. If that isn’t doable for you, we would also recommend looking into low cost therapy directories such as Open Path Collective, or consider seeing a counseling intern.
3. Specialty: Ideally, you want to work with a therapist who specializes in the concerns you want to work on in therapy. Some therapists specialize by population/age group (such as a therapist who only sees children), others by concern (such as depression or anxiety), and still others by modality (such as EMDR or DBT). Many therapists identify their specialty by a combination of the three, such as a therapist who works with adults who have experienced trauma using EMDR.
If you’re not sure, I wouldn’t worry about the modality part! Make sure the population and your concern both fit as you begin your search. It’s also completely ok to ask a therapist about this before scheduling a session to make sure.
4. Location: If you want to meet with a therapist in their office, you need to know that where they’re located works for you! If you’re interested in a virtual session, you can work with any therapist who is licensed in your state.
Add Your Preferences
Once you know your must-haves, now you can start thinking about preferences. Perhaps you’d prefer a therapist of a certain gender or age. Some therapy seekers also look for a therapist with common identities to themselves, such as race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or religion, and others.
Maybe you’d like a therapist who has a more casual style, vs. one who feels very intellectual and academic. Or maybe intellectual and academic is exactly what you want! While these various factors may not be absolutely necessary for finding a good therapist, they can certainly be helpful! It’s completely okay to think about these preferences when you’re searching. If you live in an area with a limited number of therapists, you may have to consider which preferences matter the most.
The Best Ways to Search for a Therapist
When you hop onto Google to start that search, don’t just search “therapist for depression.” You’ll get way too many results, and most of them won’t be helpful! Instead, add more keywords to your search, such as “therapist for women with depression in Castle Rock, Colorado.” Now, you’ll be able to see more results that are actually relevant to you. Google results are great for in-person/location-specific results and for finding group practices and counseling centers.
Skip past the ads!
You’ll likely see a few top results for literally any therapist search: BetterHelp, TalkSpace, and other large therapy companies. Many of these companies have documented unethical practices, don’t treat therapists well (which means they’re not doing their best work), and some have also been found to sell private client data. It’s best to skip these sponsored results and go down to the next few options.
Therapy directories are a great way to filter as generally or specifically as you want, and see listings for private practice therapists. Psychology Today is the largest therapy directory. It can feel like a miniature version of Google and a little overwhelming in itself! Plus…they have a less than stellar reputation. But there are plenty of therapists listed there, and Psychology Today’s reputation doesn’t extend to the therapists listed (they don’t work for Psychology Today).
There are plenty of other directories that can be more helpful. A couple of our favorites are Therapy Den, Therapy Tribe, and Mental Health Match. I would highly recommend both Therapy Den and Inclusive Therapists if you’re looking at therapists’ identities as part of your search. If you’re a Black woman and would prefer to work with a Black therapist, I would recommend Therapy for Black Girls. As mentioned earlier, Open Path Collective is a directory that focuses on affordable therapy, which can be really helpful. Typically, therapists offer a few affordable slots to Open Path for their clients. These are all wonderful resources!
You may also find local or regional directories in your area. These are often great resources as well, as the therapists will typically also be in your local area.
Research Therapists Further
Once you’ve found some options, look into them a little bit more, either by reading their therapy directory profiles or heading to their website. If they offer a video, definitely watch that! It will give you a quick sense of a therapist’s personality and style. You can also check out a therapist’s professional social media accounts to learn a little more about them.
All of this research can help you get a sense of whether or not you’d like the therapist as a human being. While you certainly don’t need to be best friends with your therapist (and you shouldn’t be! It’s a professional relationship), it definitely helps when you can get along with and respect your therapist as a human.
Ask Questions in Your Consultation Call or First Session
Some therapists offer consultation calls prior to scheduling. If so, take advantage of them! These are typically fairly short calls that give you an opportunity to get any initial questions about them answered.
When therapists don’t offer consultations, it’s often because they’re usually full! So not having a consultation option is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It might mean that your potential therapist does great work. If that’s the case, you can certainly ask those initial questions during your first session. This is the perfect time to ask the therapist more about how they approach their work, how they interact with their clients, expectations, and anything else that will help you decide if they’re right for you.
Try to Stay Open-Minded
If you don’t get amazing vibes the first session, it’s okay. Stay open-minded! The reality is that the first session often consists largely of paperwork and going through your history and background. It can be a bit boring, but it’s an important part of the process. Give your new therapists a few sessions before you fully decide to commit or try someone else. Of course, if you notice any major red flags in the first session, trust your intuition and keep searching.
Don’t Expect Immediate Results
Even if you are really sure your new therapist is a great fit for you after the first session, you might not see any major progress right away. That’s okay and completely normal. Therapy is a relationship and a process, both of which take time to build. In fact, sometimes you can feel worse before you start to feel better. This is usually because you’re paying more attention to your patterns and the old stuff that has been affecting you, and that can be really painful. This doesn’t mean you have a bad therapist! In fact, it usually means you’re on the right track.
Do Expect to Feel Seen and Heard
While you may not see immediate results, you should feel like your therapist sees and hears you. You deserve to be treated with respect and compassion, and hopefully that start to come through in the very first session.
Best of Luck on Your Search!
I hope this helps you as you take the big step to find a great therapist. And if you’re in the Castle Rock, Colorado area, visit us at Authentic Connections Counseling Center. We are a group practice with therapists who specialize in issues such as trauma, grief/loss, depression, anxiety, relationships, couples, children, and families.