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Finding the Right Therapist

Brent Scobie, PhD, LCSW | 8/25/2017 11:47:01 AM

When I meet a client for the first time, I am always interested in how they located me among the many psychotherapists in the area. Under most circumstances (and to my disappointment) I am most frequently told that they found me by chance, usually on an insurance company list of approved providers, or through another of the myriad online resources designed to help people find therapists. I have learned over the years that finding a therapist can be difficult. Finding the “right” therapist for you is even more so. Listed below are some basic considerations and guidelines I would suggest for those seeking therapy, but who have not yet found a provider.

Firstly, and most importantly, effective therapy requires a comfortable “fit” between the therapist and individual seeking help. In other words, you should feel comfortable working with them. You need to feel understood, heard and safe. Always consider your first session a form of interview. Yes, you will be asked a number of questions by the therapist as they seek to understand your situation, but ask them questions too. Get a sense for how they act, how they treat you, how they listen. If it does not feel quite right, it probably isn’t.

Secondly, you should feel comfortable that the therapist is capable of helping you achieve your objectives whatever they may be. Therapists have diverse levels of training and experience such that the quality of their product also varies. For one, psychotherapists rely--in varying degrees--on the empirical research to guide their work. None of us would undergo surgery from a physician who was not up to date on the most current research and practice in the care of our condition—the same standard should hold true in the treatment of behavioral health conditions. While some therapists specify their expertise based upon the types of “conditions they work with (mood disorders, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse), others define their work based upon the therapeutic approach they most frequently employ (cognitive behavior therapy, solution focused therapy, interpersonal therapy, etc.). Neither is “wrong,” but all require you as the customer to ask some exploratory questions up front. Before committing to a therapist, ask about the therapeutic model or theoretical framework from which they work, where were they trained and how long have they been practicing. There are many therapeutic models, which have been studied and found to be effective ranging from cognitive behavior therapy, client-centered therapy, solution-focused therapy to name just a few. If the therapist tells you they use a mix of the above, consider interviewing other providers. Effective psychotherapy must balance the flexibility to meet your needs with adherence to the methods of treatment that have been demonstrated in the literature to be efficacious.

Equally important in shopping for a psychotherapist is to consider their treatment outcomes. Have they treated people with similar conditions to those you describe? Do they routinely assess if a client is improving or not using some form of outcome instrument(s)? If so, what is their success rate? If a provider is not able to speak clearly about their treatment outcomes and articulate routine methods for evaluating treatment progress among their clientele, consider looking elsewhere.

At Restorative Health we promote and deliver cognitive behavior therapy as our primary treatment model. Each of our providers has over 15 years of experience practicing psychotherapy. We assess how our clients are responding to treatment at every session using empirically validated assessment instruments. What’s more, 77% of the people we have treated over the past two years report improvement in their symptoms by the 6 session.

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