You decide to start therapy and you take to the internet to find a therapist and quickly realize that choosing a therapist is confusing and overwhelming. Choosing the right therapist for you is important so let's talk about the things you should consider when picking a therapist.
There are a lot of different issues and needs that might bring a person to therapy and there are a lot of different therapeutic techniques available and no therapist is going to be an expert at them all. So the first thing you should do is ask yourself what's bringing you to therapy? Is is depression, stress, trauma, relationship issues? Search for a therapist that advertises that issue as their specialty.
While you don't need to be an expert on the different types of therapy approaches, do ask potential therapists what therapeutic techniques they use and decide if they resonate with you.
In-Person vs Virtual
The pandemic opened up the world of telehealth and many therapists haven't looked back. There are pros and cons to both in-person and virtual therapy and, ultimately, it's a personal choice. Teletherapy has been shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy and the options for therapists expand to all licensed in the state rather that just who is within driving distance. For some, technology offers flexibility and ease of access while for others technology is an obstacle to care. If you're considering telehealth you should make sure that you have a private place to log in to sessions and a stable internet connection.
Insurance vs Self-Pay
Insurance coverage for mental health benefits can vary greatly. One thing you should consider when making this decision is your choice of providers. Many therapists choose not to take insurance and insurance limits you to the therapists that have chosen to panel with that insurance. On the other side of this, however, is that self-pay rates can vary from $100-$250 per session and this is not a financial option for everyone. For some, an important factor is privacy. When using insurance benefits some information about your mental health treatment is shared with the insurance provider.
It's important that in your work with your therapist you feel seen and heard. While you and your therapist are not going to be friends it is important that you have a compatible working relationship. Sometimes people have preferences on their therapist's gender, age, shared cultural background, or personality.