How To Find A Psychologist That's Right For You

Updated January 03, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Dutil

Finding a psychologist, a therapist, or a counselor can be an irritating task. Some therapists are more competent at helping people than others. Therapists tend to be good people, but their style may not be a good fit for your situation. It can be a waste of time and money to find the best therapist for you, and not everyone gets it right on the first try…or the second.

Knowing When To See A Psychologist

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If you are finding yourself wondering if you should see a psychologist or a therapist, then odds are, you should see them. With that said, here are some other reasons for seeing a therapist.

  • Your mood has changed, or your overall feeling is constantly negative. It does not seem to go away no matter what you do, whether with time, with life changes, or talking to your loved ones.
  • Your condition is starting to impede on your activities. For example, if you're depressed, you lose motivation and the drive to do your work.
  • You're always feeling anxious, no matter the circumstances.
  • Addiction is taking over your life. You can't function without drinking or doing the drug of your choice.
  • You feel like you have a mental problem that is perhaps undiagnosed.

When you realize you need one, choosing the right psychologist can be a bit intimidating. However, there are ways to narrow the right psychologist down and have a higher chance of finding the one who is right for you. Here are a few tips.

Ask For Recommendations

If your friends or family have gone to a psychologist, ask who they went to. Odds are, you have many traits in common with your friends and family, and sometimes the therapist they visit is a good fit for you. Not all the time, but it does increase your chances of your first therapist being right for you. Plus, you or your friends may get discounts if they recommended the therapist for you.

Which Gender Do You Prefer?

For some people, the gender of the therapist does not matter. It's understandable why some think that. The skills of the therapist are more important than the gender. But some are more comfortable with a specific gender. Some will want a therapist who acts as a father figure, or maternal and nurturing. Think about the gender you are most comfortable socializing with and trusting and start there.

Read The Reviews

One of the best ways to get a taste for a therapist's skills is to read some reviews online. You can be able to find a variety of opinions. With that said, you will probably find a few negative reviews even if the therapist is high-quality. People who have had negative experiences will be more likely to review than someone with a positive experience. Sometimes, they have legitimate complaints, and other times, they didn't listen to the therapist or there was miscommunication. Read the reviews. See if the therapist has responded to these reviews. It's not the only way to determine whether or not a therapist is right for you, but it's helpful for sure.

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Experience And Licensing

When you are choosing the best psychologist for a job, you should always pick someone who is licensed. Someone who is licensed will gladly show their credentials whenever you ask for them. Also, look for a psychologist who has experience. Ask how many years they've been serving the public and understand what they have accomplished. A good psychologist won't mind revealing their experiences, telling you the clients they've served while keeping personal details confidential.

Interview Your Therapist Before You Seal The Deal

A good therapist will be happy that you have a few questions about how they help others before you sign their informed consent. Here are a few questions to ask.

  • What is your style? Different psychologists have different types of styles, and some are better suited for you than others. A good psychologist will be able to explain how they work with others and their philosophy towards treatment.
  • Explain your problem and ask how the therapist will be able to treat it. They won't be able to give you the full treatment right then and there, but they can be able to explain how they will work with you during treatment sessions.
  • Ask about their strengths. A good psychologist will tell you what they excel in and give you a few examples. They should be able to take their strengths and apply it to your particular situation.
  • Ask about what the boundaries are. Will the therapist respect your boundaries? Can they help you outside of normal business hours if they are contacted? Finding out about the therapist's limits can help you understand what you need from a therapist.

Finances

As you're searching for psychologists, you need to find one that fits your budget. If you have insurance, it may cover mental health services, but you should check with your insurance provider to see if they cover mental health care and what exactly they cover. Nothing stings more than thinking something is covered, only for you to realize that it isn't.

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Ask all the questions about insurance coverage, including how much you have to pay. Some insurance companies will cover it all, while others will make you pay a little. The last thing you want is to get a bill in the mail that you weren't expecting.

If you must pay out of pocket, you're still in luck. Many psychologists will have payment plans based on many factors. Some are sliding scales, meaning your income determines how much you pay. Others may have pro bono services, meaning they take on a select group of people for free to serve the public. See if they have any pro bono slots open.

Psychologist Red Flags

As you visit your psychologist, you should look for red flags and other warning signs that they are not the best psychologist for you. If you are experiencing these red flags, find a new psychologist ASAP.

  • They are quick to diagnose you and encourage you take medication immediately. Diagnosing takes time. Many mental disorders share similar symptoms, and a psychologist needs to narrow down what you have. Meanwhile, a bad psychologist will diagnose you immediately and tells you will need to see them for a long time. This is not very ethical.
  • The psychologist harshly criticizes you. In therapy, you are going to be faced with brutally honest truths about yourself, but a therapist is going to deliver this truth in the most gentle way possible. They don't berate you or make you feel down about yourself. This is not an effective way to treat someone.
  • The therapist isn't putting effort into their sessions. Being late on occasion is one thing, but a bad therapist will always be late, end sessions early, look at the clock or be distracted by phone calls. A good psychologist will put everything on hold to help you.
  • The psychologist makes you feel uncomfortable. In the beginning, it's important to establish boundaries. Sometimes, you have to go into uncomfortable territory, and you should tell your therapist. It's okay to say 'I can't talk about that right now.' If they make you feel uncomfortable stay away. If they touch you inappropriately, report this to the state licensing board immediately.
  • Going to therapy feels like a chore, and you do not see any results after time has elapsed. Therapy shouldn't feel like a chore. Instead, it should feel like a journey. Also, if you aren't improving, that may mean that the therapist just isn't for you, and you should try someone else.

These are just a few reasons why you should find a new therapist. Staying with one who isn't right for you may make things worse.

Online Counseling

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One option you can look into is online therapy. There are services where you can be matched to a therapist online and then be able to switch should you not care for them. Online therapy can be quite useful. While different than in-person therapy, you can video chat with a therapist to get the closest experience possible. You can talk to a therapist at different points in day, when you are free and are available. Plus, there is no commuting involved! More people are choosing online therapy and for a good reason. It's not just because you don't feel like going out.

In Summary

A helpful psychologist will change your life for the better. They can create goals for you to accomplish, find out the origins of your troubles, and be able to adjust their treatment as your needs change. Meanwhile, a psychologist who only cares about themselves will be someone who cannot help you get better. It's up to you to pick the right psychologist and find one who is suited for your needs.

By following these tips, it will make the selection process much easier and increase your chances of getting the help you need.


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