Deciding to seek therapy to help with your anxiety symptoms is a big step. Most people report that just considering the step causes an increase in anxiety. While the process of therapy is an important part in learning to manage and decrease symptoms, making the decision about which therapist to see can be stressful. There are a few things to consider when choosing a therapist that may make the decision easier and less anxiety provoking for you.
You will be looking at several different names for people in the helping professions who do jobs that are similar. Psychotherapists, therapists, counselors, psychologists and social workers are all names for people who can help address the behaviors, thoughts, past life events and physical symptoms that are causing your anxiety. When looking for a helper, consider the training and educational background of the individual. You want to choose someone who is licensed, credentialed and well trained. Some people feel better with a clinician who has training in a lot of different areas, some want someone who is more specialized. Look for someone who has education in areas that you feel will be helpful to you. Educate yourself on the different types of therapy used to address anxiety and see if there is one that stands out to you, then seek a clinician with that training.
Make sure the clinician has a background of working with the issues that you know you bring to the table. For instance if you have a history of sexual abuse, a psychotherapist with experience in dealing with sexual abuse would be the wisest choice for you. If you have a history of family conflict, a social worker with a background in family therapy would be a good choice. If you need help managing stress, a psychotherapist who does mind/body work would be a good fit to teach you coping skills. Experience should be evident in the counselor's advertising, so that you are easily able to determine whether your issues are within their scope of competency.
Finding a therapist who is a good financial fit is important as well. Many clients pay out-of-pocket for their therapy to avoid jeopardizing their future ability to obtain life, health, or disability insurance. Any therapist must assign a "mental disorder" diagnosis to your claim to prove that your therapy or "treatment" is "medically necessary." This diagnosis becomes a part of your record in central insurance computers. If you decide to use insurance, be sure to read your potential clinician's profile carefully to be sure they are providers for your insurance. Some psychotherapists who do not take insurance will provide a superbill so that you can possibly obtain out of network benefits from your insurance if covered. Sometimes a sliding fee scale is offered to assist those who cannot afford to pay full fee for services. These are all appropriate subjects to ask about and should be comfortable to discuss with your potential counselor.
Finding a therapist whose personality is a good fit for yours is important. The therapeutic relationship is the most important part of what will assist you in getting better, so be sure that you find someone whose personality resonates with yours. Most clinicians will have a picture on their advertising or web page. Really look closely to see if that person "feels" right to you. Do they seem warm, approachable and open? Do they look "safe" to you? When talking on the phone with them do you notice that your conversational styles match and that they do a good job helping you feel comfortable and are answering all of your questions in a forthcoming manner? Does their voice put you at ease?
Scheduling is important. Is this psychotherapist able to accommodate your schedule? Are they flexible and willing to work with you? Do they have a missed appointment fee for cancelling with less than 24 hours notice? Do they offer some non traditional hours that might help you be able to attend therapy in a more consistent manner? Do they offer alternative means of attending such as SKYPE, phone or email therapy that may assist you if you travel often or have a hard time attending in person due to illness or childcare concerns? Do they offer several different ways to pay (cash, credit card, check, etc.)?
Pick several clinicians to interview so that you are sure that you have made the best choice for you. Check their advertising to see if they offer a free phone or in person consultation. A fifteen to twenty minute phone call or face to face session should give you a good idea of whether you will "click" with this person. Interviewing several will give you a feeling of being in control of your treatment and will put you in a position of making the best choice possible for your future therapist.
Choosing a psychotherapist is a big step, and an important one to help you along your journey. Being informed is the wisest thing that you can do to make a decision that works for you. Therapy is an effective means of helping you move past problems with anxiety, and choosing the right therapist is vital. Empower yourself by becoming educated and take that step today!
As a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, I would love to be of assistance to you in any way possible. If you would like more information please call me at 770-789-0847 or see my website www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.