How to Know If You Found the Right Therapist for You

How to Know If You Found the Right Therapist for You
Whether you’re battling depression or working through relationship struggles, finding the right therapeutic relationship can make all the difference. If you’re looking for a good fit, read on to explore seven tips on what to look out for.

More people desire mental health care now than ever before, and yet over half of people who could benefit from mental health help don’t seek the care they need, according to data published in the Mental Health Million Project.

The stigma surrounding mental health plays a part in that, but in some cases, people just don’t know where to turn for help or how to ask for the help they want. Some people also struggle to find the “right fit” for them. Finding a therapist who can understand and support your unique needs can be a daunting task. In addition to traditional considerations, such as qualifications and approach, it's essential to view the therapist-client relationship through a lens of cultural humility and reciprocity. 

If you’re looking for mental health help but not sure how to find the right therapist for you,  read on as our trained and compassionate team of psychotherapists here at Brooklyn Integrative Psychological Services shares seven tips for finding a therapist that fits your needs.

1. Write down your goals

While you know that you would like to benefit from therapy, it’s important to think about some of your goals for that therapy even before you start. Knowing some of your initial goals can help you find the right therapist.

You might ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my main reasons for seeking therapy?
  • What specific challenges or issues am I currently facing in my life?
  • Am I looking for individual therapy or couple’s therapy?
  • Am I looking forLGBTQIA+support? 
  • Am I trying to heal from trauma?

Keep in mind that your goals may shift throughout your journey, and that’s okay. Your therapist is well-aware that sometimes even making a goal is a goal!

2. Look for representation 

Representation in therapy means many things, but usually implies that you can see yourself reflected in your therapist. This could refer to their background, culture, identity, and lived experiences. It could also mean just feeling seen and heard for who you are.

For individuals belonging to marginalized communities, finding a therapist who shares their cultural background, language, or identity can help bring a sense of validation and understanding. Even a therapist who may not share your background can still be extremely helpful, if you feel they can represent your experience through their demeanor, responses, and overall vibe. Many therapists also may not present in a way that aligns with their background, so it’s important to trust your gut and to ask questions if you have them.

3. Make sure you trust your therapist 

It’s so important to trust your therapist that there’s even a phrase for this: reciprocity in therapy. Reciprocity is about mutual trust and collaboration. 

Trusting your therapist has a big impact on your mental wellness. According to the American Psychological Association, the more you trust your therapist, the better your outcomes are in therapy. By being an active participant in your collaborative therapy, you can help shape the way sessions can go and can also help steer it back on course should you feel that you are going down a path you don’t want to. Your therapist will welcome this collaboration!

Trust is also demonstrated by how well they maintain the “frame” of therapy. Respecting your time by starting and ending on time, your needs for consistency or flexibility, and being clear about their own policies and expectations can help you trust that your therapist is thoughtful, considerate, and professional. 

4. Ask about your therapist’s experiences with your culture

Even if a friend or coworker recommends a therapist, don’t assume that they’re necessarily right for you. Your ideal therapist should also understand your cultural and social background. This is referred to as culturally humble.

Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist about their experience working with patients from similar cultural backgrounds as yours, and be specific. This is important because a culturally therapist can navigate through tough conversations around your identity and oppressive experiences with sensitivity and insight. 

If you feel at any time that your therapist isn’t understanding where you are coming from, this is also a good time to pause and work towards mutual understanding. 

5. Ask if your therapist is an affirming space

Make sure your therapist prioritizes inclusivity of diverse identities and experiences. Look for therapists who openly affirm and support all people - LGBTQIA+ individuals, people of color, neurodiversity, individuals with disabilities, and other marginalized communities. 

6. Trust your gut

Finding the right therapist requires trust in your instincts too. Pay attention to how you feel during initial consultations or therapy sessions. 

Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel comfortable and heard? 
  • Does my therapist demonstrate empathy and understanding? 
  • Is my therapist open to feedback, collaboration, and working together rather than just giving me unsolicited advice?

Trust your gut instincts, and explore multiple options until you find a therapist who feels like the right fit for you.

7. Know where to find your therapist 

The right therapist is also easier to find than you may think. Here at Brooklyn Integrative Psychological Services, our team provides integrative psychotherapy for people in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Midtown West and Union Square, New York. Telehealth is also available for people in New York, Massachusetts and Oregon

You can also search on platforms such as Psychology Today or Therapy Den to utilize search filters, as well as ask around to learn about other directories that may align more closely with your identity.

Can you pick your own therapist? 

You’re more than welcome to request the Brooklyn Integrative Psychological Services therapist you’d like to work with, but if you don’t know any of them, that’s okay too. Shoot us an email and explain what you’re looking for in a therapist. Our team can make recommendations based on what you share. 

What if you begin therapy and after a while do not feel like you are benefitting from your sessions?

Every relationship is unique and different. Therefore, if you are not feeling like you are benefitting, bring it up to your therapist! This is a welcomed task by all good therapists as they may not know what is displeasing you, and may be able to adjust accordingly. Therapists are trained to be receptive to feedback so it’s totally ok to discuss how you feel your treatment is going. It could blow open a whole new door!

Questions? Feel free to send us a message, or book your first appointment here.