Choosing a therapist can feel like an overwhelming task. It is not easy to sort through various specialties and insurance coverage. Normally, you would meet your therapist in person to get a sense of the energy and chemistry. However, tele-health during COVID-19 makes the search a little harder. The following suggestions can help you make informed decisions to find the right therapist.
Identify Your Goals
Before you start the process of choosing a therapist, clarify your therapy goals. Because there are many approaches to therapy, setting goals will help you search more effectively for the right therapist. Here are a few questions to consider:
What are the top three concerns in your life right now? Based on your answers, consider whether to choose couple’s counseling, family therapy or individual therapy to best meet your needs.
Do you have a gender preference for your therapist?
Are you interested in talk therapy or one of the creative arts therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy or movement/dance therapy? If you choose to explore one of the creative arts therapies, ensure the therapist holds the correct certification. For Art Therapists, the credentials are ATR-BC (Registered Art Therapist, Board Certified).
Are your looking to uncover the root of an issue to gain new insight? Or would you prefer to address your current symptoms with solution-focused tools and techniques?
If you have been in therapy before and it was helpful, was there a specialized technique or approach your previous therapist used?
Do you think you may have an issue with chemical dependency or alcohol consumption? Therapists who specialize in substance abuse and recovery are trained to offer the most effective support and guidance.
Interview Several Therapists to Find the Best Fit
Many therapists offer complimentary consultations either in person or over the phone. During COVID-19, therapists most likely offer consultations by phone. These conversations provide you with a sense of how well the therapist listens to your concerns, specializes in your needs and feels like a good match.
What Makes a “Good Therapy Fit”?
A therapist should be someone who makes you feel respected, accepted and heard. If this is your first time seeking therapy, you may feel uncomfortable opening up right away and sharing your feelings. As a result, it is very important that you choose a therapist who you trust and feel comfortable with. Additionally, the therapeutic relationship will develop over time. Your therapist will ideally be someone who is patient and understanding, building the relationship through listening, compassion and validation of feelings.
Making the Most of Online Therapy
While some clients prefer tele-health sessions, many people enjoy going to their therapist’s office and meeting face-to-face. A therapist’s office can be a calming space where a client can take a break from everyday life and find support. In fact, many therapists view their offices as sacred space where they create welcoming and trusting environments for personal growth. When meeting in-person, a therapist can easily sense the energy level of their clients and observe subtle emotional cues.
During the pandemic, virtual sessions can make it more challenging for the therapist and client to connect. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to make the most of each session. First, make sure you set aside a time and space with limited distractions for your online therapy sessions. It is best to sit in a room where you can close the door for privacy. If that is not an option, wearing headphones during your session can help with privacy. You may have more flexibility to schedule online therapy sessions during the day. However, note that you may need time to decompress after sessions. For this reason, some clients prefer sessions at the end of the day.
Considerations for Virtual Art Therapy
Choosing a creative arts therapist during COVID-19 may not seem like a good idea. You may wonder how hands-on therapy approaches can be effective virtually. During the pandemic, many creative arts therapists have developed unique solutions to reach their clients online. Make a list of your concerns and questions to discuss with a creative arts therapist during a consultation. If you are interested in trying art therapy, here are a few topics to discuss with your art therapist:
- Describe the art materials you already have at home (the brands of the materials, too, since quality matters).
- Discuss art materials you enjoy or would like to try, but do not have. Some art therapy practices can provide art materials for clients to use at home during virtual sessions.
- How will the therapist view art created during sessions or outside of sessions?
- What type of work space is needed?
- How should artwork be stored?
Looking for support during this stressful time? Please reach out to us. Our team of therapists is here to provide support and guidance. We look forward to connecting with you!
Kate is the Founder and Clinical Director of Sage House Counseling & Art Therapy. With nearly ten years of clinical experience, I partner with you to connect back to your authentic, true self. The self that desires happiness, abundance and greater self-compassion. I work with clients just like you because I believe we all have the innate ability to heal and grow when we are heard and supported.