A man holds up his hands and looks unsure between a doctor on his left and another on his right.

Tips for Finding a Therapist Who Fits Your Needs

The question was asked, in response to another piece I wrote, “How did you find a therapist?”

This is a great question and gave me some pause to think about it. Everything is advertised on hats and t-shirts and bumper stickers. Even the local vasectomy clinic has shirts with some clever saying on them. I have dozens of hats that advertise cars, motorcycles, tools, and heavy equipment. But, when we come to mental health, not so much.

Why isn't mental health care advertised?

My daughter works in the mental health field and we talked it over. I had some suggestions. “Nuts no more counseling” was the only one I got out before she shot me down. I had some other catchy slogans, but she wasn’t having any of it.

We seem to be willing to ask and offer recommendations for almost anything, but we don’t talk about mental health, so we cannot fathom talking about who is a good therapist or what medications we use and find helpful.

How I chose my first therapist

When I started out, I picked a name out of the phonebook. She was close to home and on my insurance. She was okay, but my insurance dropped when I changed jobs and when I got insurance again, she had retired. The second was, again, close to home with evening hours and on my insurance. The story for the next 2 is much the same. We just did not seem to be going in the direction I needed.

Reading about different types of therapy like EMDR

After that, I started reading about different therapy modalities. I read about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and was intrigued. This helped because now I could find a specific therapist who practiced this method. Finding a modality that sounds like something you will benefit from allows you to narrow the search. For me, EMDR has been amazing, but that is me and I have talked to others who got nothing from it.

Keep trying until you find the right fit

I think finding a good therapist is just hard work and a lot of patience, trying and continuing to try until you find a fit. Clothes often look great in the catalog or on a website but in the store, they just don’t work out. I have never seen anyone just give up and walk out naked. Use the same logic when trying therapists, keep trying until you find fit.

Podcasts that have helped me

I have also benefitted from podcast therapy and it is free. “Self Work” with Dr. Margaret Rutherford is one I really like. “Unlocking Us” with Brené Brown is another podcast I really like, and I have learned a lot from both. I am not saying that either could replace my therapist; however, both have helped me know what I am looking for and what direction I would like to travel. Both of these are available on most podcast platforms.

At this point, I am convinced that mental health, with or without cancer is a great investment in ourselves.

The stress of an upcoming scope

I am three weeks out from my next scope. I will be seeing a new urologist that I do not know and did not choose. With all that is going on in our day-to-day and the stress of my scope, I am confident in saying were it not for my therapist and medication and meditation, as well as daily contemplative prayer, I would be curled up in a ball rocking and in tears.

Do the hard work

Do the hard work to find a therapist. Keep trying until you find a good fit. Ask lots and lots of questions. Take notes. Bring the notes to the next therapist so you can reference them as conversation starters. Look at a therapist like a great pair of jeans. Really hard to find but so worth it when you look in the mirror and see how great they make you look.

Be well and take the best care of you.

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