How to Choose A Therapist
by Kristen Milliron, LCSW, Denver Mental Health Therapist
People often ask me why I became a therapist and chose the mental health field.
I come from a unique perspective and experience, as my dad is a therapist. I grew up watching him and seeing the impact he had on people’s lives. I had no idea that there was a stigma behind mental health and seeing a therapist, because it was so normalized to me starting at a young age. I decided in highschool that I wanted to be like my dad, who has always been my hero and that I wanted to work in a profession where I could help others and make an impact on people’s lives.
You have made the decision that you want to see a therapist, what do you do now? How do you start? Why is it so hard to find a therapist?
People don’t often advertise their therapist, as they would their massage therapist, dog walker or other medical provider. People don’t often say, “wow, I just had the best session with my therapist” during casual conversations or on social media posts. Therapy is so personal and even though the stigma behind seeing a therapist is decreasing, it is still something that people don’t often freely talk about.
When you think of going to therapy, what comes to mind?
Do you visualize yourself laying on a couch while an uptight person sits in a large chair asking you how you feel. This common view and misconception of therapy most likely has come from what you have seen on TV or in movies.
Therapy is a place where you should feel comfortable and safe and where you have been given the time to engage with your therapist before digging in and talking about more difficult areas of your life.
So, how do you pick a person to be vulnerable with and to work on the aspects of your life you want help with and want to address?
Think about your goals ahead of time- Take some time to think about what you are looking for in a therapist. Is there a specific type of mental health treatment you are interested in trying, such as CBT, DBT or EMDR? What do you want to work on? Do you have previous experience with therapy? If so, what did you like? What did you not like?
Shop Around- I always tell people to “shop around” for a therapist. Not everyone is going to be a good fit for you and it is okay to speak with several therapists before you choose one. The majority of therapists offer a free phone consult so that you are able to speak with them to help determine if that person is a good fit for you. It is okay if the therapist is not a good fit, don’t feel like you need to schedule an appointment because they gave you a free consult. All of the therapists that I know and have worked closely with became therapists because they truly want to help people and want people to succeed.
Word of mouth- If someone you trust does mention that they are in therapy, ask them for the contact information. It isn't strange to see the same therapist as your friend or coworker, because what you share is protected by privacy laws. Ask your PCP or other medical providers that you regularly see if they have someone they refer patients to.
Online- More and more people are relying on the internet to find providers. Use a reliable online database. Psychology today has a therapist search engine so you can look for therapists in your area. From there you can be linked to the potential therapists website. You can learn alot from a potential provider's website and get a feel for if you think this person will be a good fit for you.
Trust your intuition - You know you better than anyone else and you know what type of person you will feel comfortable speaking with. If someone’s approach speaks to you and your needs, set up a consult with them. During the consult call, do you feel like you are being listened to? If you feel during the consult that this is someone who you think will understand you and you feel comfortable with them, set up an appointment.
No matter what you are trying to manage in your life, anxiety, depression, relationship stress, past trauma, grief and loss, etc, finding a good therapist can make a huge difference in your journey. Finding a therapist is a very personal matter, having a connection with your therapist is the most important thing to effective therapy.
I believe that prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Need help putting yourself first? Reach out.
Kristen Milliron, LCSW sees patients in-person at The Facility in Denver, CO and is accepting new patients (Telehealth and In-person).
Learn more about Kristen's Therapy Style here.
Ready to get started?
Book a FREE Discovery Call with Kristen to see if she is a good fit for you!
You May Also Like: Combating Isolation and Loneliness