“What do you do?” It’s a common question that comes up over introductions at a party or when making small talk in your Lyft line. I’m sure most of us have come to expect some common questions based on your career and experiences. There are several that regularly come up for me or questions that people want to ask and get a professional opinion. Which is why I decided to start an “Ask a Therapist” series on the blog.
When people find out that I’m a therapist the most common question I get and am also frequently asked by friends, family and strangers is, “How do I find a good therapist?” I actually love this question because it gives me an easy way to help support someone in their life and whatever may be going on. Alright, here we go…
The Good News: There are lots of great therapists and counselors out there in San Francisco (and any other city or town you live in) which means you are going to find a therapist that you like, trust, feel comfortable with and a person who really understands you and can support whatever goals or issues you are looking to work on.
The Bad News: It’s often overwhelming trying to navigating how to find a therapist when you are coming up endless pages in Google Search or have a giant list of names from your insurance company and no idea where to start.
Knowing these challenges and frequently being asked about the best way to find a therapist, I decided to share some ideas I often give people.
4 Tips to Find a Therapist
Use a Professional Therapist and Counseling Directory
There are multiple local and national therapy directories out there, but I usually recommend people use Psychology Today or Good Therapy. I’ve personally found that these 2 directories are the most comprehensive and the therapist profiles all have bios and pictures to give you an idea of each person’s counseling style, focuses and personality.
You can start by entering your zip code and then you have the option to further filter by looking for additional criteria like issues you are looking to focus on, if they take insurance and demographic specializations. Each profile has the therapist location, contact information and link to their website to make it easier for you to contact the therapist or explore more.
Tip: Try using your home zip code and your work zip code. Therapist schedules vary greatly so it may be you find someone close to home or around the corner from your office.
Get a Recommendation from a Friend or Family Member
Most people feel comfortable asking colleagues or acquaintances for recommendations when it comes to things like a hair stylist, restaurant or dentist. Asking someone if they know of a good therapist can often feel a lot more vulnerable and for good reason, therapy is a personal experience.
Ask a supportive friend or close family member if they know of any good therapists. This gives them the space to tell you therapists without having to say it’s their personal therapist if they don’t want and you the chance to have an already vetted and trusted list to start your search. Now you just have to see if they are the right one specifically for you by checking out their website or online profile (see above) or giving them a call.
Hint: If you have a friend or relative that’s a therapist, ask them for recommendations, they probably know some great people. I love to help family, friends and others find the right therapist and getting to be a “therapist matchmaker” by referring them to trusted San Francisco therapist colleagues or reaching out to my professional networks to find someone in their area that can meet their unique needs.
Ask Your Doctor or A Trusted Professional
Similar to what I mentioned above, by asking your doctor or another professional (like your acupuncturist, psychiatrist, OBGYN etc.) for therapist or counseling recommendations you take some of the legwork out by getting a short-list of trusted and vetted therapists.
As a therapist, I often work with doctors and other healing professionals so that we are coordinating together in the best interest of our client’s well being by taking a team approach. Because of these interactions, therapists, doctors and other professionals can make referrals knowing their clients and who they may work well with.
Make the Call
Take action on the list of names you find on the directory or got from someone you trust. If their online profile, website or personal recommendation resonates with you, feels encouraging or sounds interesting then the next step is to reach out and have a conversation.
As a whole therapists are really caring people that want to help you and will welcome chatting about therapy. If not, well then that’s not the person for you and call the next name because soon you’ll find the therapist that you genuinely connect with and you are excited to work together.
There are lots of ways to find an awesome therapist. These are a few of my tips to get you started but by no means is an exhaustive list. Still feel uncertain or nervous about finding someone? Not to worry, I’ll be sharing a couple posts very soon directly related to how to know if someone is the right fit and what to say and ask during the initial consultation to make it easier for you.
Any questions or topics you want to see covered in my “Ask a Therapist” series? Send them my way. And in the coming weeks, I’ll be continuing this series and be giving my opinion about these questions:
- Can Therapy Help Me?
- How Do I know If a Therapist is the Right Fit?
- Why Should I Do a Phone Consultation? How to Navigate the Consultation to Find the Best Therapist
- What Kind of Mental Health Professional Do I See? (AKA I’m confused by all these titles and alphabet soup letters)