Now that you’ve arrived at the decision to seek out therapy, and after reading Things to Consider Before Starting Therapy, it’s now time to find the best therapist for you. If you haven’t read that article yet, please take a moment to read it. It presents mindful first steps towards beginning your therapy journey and is a great place to start.
So, I have spoken to many people, and they’ve been told that they should try therapy by family member, their friend, or by a doctor in response to a new diagnosis. I am often asked “Where do I start?”, “How do I know which therapist is good for me?”, and “What should I look for in a therapist?”. Since there are so many different types of therapists out there, it can be hard to know where to start or what you may need to feel better.
Hence, why I wrote this article is breaking it up into two separate sections: “What Do You Need: Create a Criteria” and “Find a Therapist: Top 3 Places to Start Your Search”. You will learn from this article how to develop your criteria of needs, along with resources and links to help you in choose the best therapist for you.
What Do You Need: Create a Criteria
As a client there is generally a sense of unwell or a struggle that makes you feel stuck, frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed at the beginning of your search. Just by completing this step you are already taking responsibility and accountability for your health and being proactive in your own healing, even if it may not feel like it right now.
It’s helpful to have a general understanding for the reason into what brings you to therapy. Having a reason can help you narrow down already therapists just by searching that topic or situation alone. Sometimes we don’t really know why but have a situation or problem to sort through and that can be reason enough as it may cause distress, frustration or boundaries are needed. Therapy is a medical healthcare practice. So, there must be some medical necessity or reason to be seen so we can track growth so that you feel better and no longer need our support.
Here is a little exercise to try out to create a criteria. Write out the answers to these 5 questions and ask yourself:
- What brings me to therapy?
- Do I want Online, In-Person, or Telephone?
- Do I have Extended Healthcare Benefits?*
- If I have had therapy before:
Is the therapist’s gender/orientation, and culture/ethnicity important for my healing journey?
- What was helpful?
- What was unhelpful?
*See the Things to Consider Before Starting Therapy to learn more about Cost & Extended Healthcare Benefits*
Just by completing this exercise you are already reclaiming control and naturally increasing your self-awareness. To narrow down your search for a therapist it’s important to know if same gender or culture or orientation is important to your healing process or not. It may not matter now but it’s okay to change your mind later and vice versa. If you feel comfortable, understood, and connected to is what matters. When we feel this way, we develop a sense of safety and can be vulnerable, accepted and receive non-judgment.
Many people are unsure if Online or In-Person is for them. There is often a misconception that therapy isn’t as effective online compared to in-person therapy. This just isn’t true, in fact in some ways online can be better than in-person depending on the person and situation, or issues being seen. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference weighing the pros and cons. I’ve linked here the next article breaking down the pros and cons if you’re unsure which is best for you! Online versus In-Person: The Pros and Cons.
The most important thing, is that you feel comfortable, safe, understood, heard, and allowed to move at your own pace. When you can say, “they just get it”, or “they get me” and therapists approach makes sense for you, then you’ve found someone who can help you!
Find a Therapist: Top 3 Places to Start Your Search
Now that you have a criteria and narrowed down your needs, we can then start the search. But where to start?
Try starting here with the top 3 places to start your search for a therapist.
1. Talk to Your Family Doctor
Talking to your family doctor is a place that seems rather obvious but is often overlooked by so many people. It’s one of the most underrated places to search but one that is more convenient than you think and a better place to start.
As a therapist I’m often surprised people didn’t know they could speak to their family doctor about their mental health when I ask if they’ve spoken to their family doctor yet. Your family doctor is the central healthcare provider for you for all your needs including your mental health. They are the go-to for your immediate healthcare concerns. So, why not talk to your family doctor about your mental health first and see what their recommendations are?
Majority of family doctors have a list of local psychotherapists in the community that they refer their patients to with a variety of focuses and range of fees. That’s what makes family doctors one of the best most underutilized resources out there. Your mental health is a medical healthcare concern and having your family doctor supporting you can help you right now and your future therapist. Your family doctor may have some options and ways to support you while you start your search for a therapist.
If you currently don’t have a family doctor and are looking for one, check out Health Care Connect Ontario to find a local family doctors in Ontario accepting new patients.
2. Psychology Today Directory
The Psychology Today Directory is one of the largest, and most widely used directories out there. This is a great tool which has all the features to narrow your search down in both the US and Canada. You can read therapists profiles, watch their intro videos, get linked to their websites right away, and message them directly via email.
What’s great about this directory is that you get a sense of what it might be like to work with the therapist. You can kind of imagine what it might be like to talk with them if you like what you hear. If you feel compelled, you can reach out to them through their profile and get connected with turnaround responses as quickly as the same day or within an hour. If the therapist has a waitlist, then no problem there are plenty of other therapists that are available and can support you right now.
It's often better to write a quick email requesting a discovery call so that you can ask the important questions to determine if they are right for you!
3. Detailed Google Search “Near Me”
Lastly, completing a Detailed Google Search using the “Near Me” function. It’s a great tool to show your local therapists near you! Using the “Near Me” feature and specific search terms to further narrow down your search can lead to your ideal therapist. Include specific terms from the criteria you have listed from the exercise you completed earlier. The location, in-person, online, costs, and the issues you’re seeking all help to narrow your search.
Some search phrases to enter are exampled here:
- Anxiety & PTSD therapist in Markham, ON
- Infertility therapists Near Me
- Dealing with relationship issues
- EDS therapists in Ontario
Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, I hope this provides you more clarity and confidence to find the therapist you want and need. Every therapist is different, and you should feel comfortable and not judged but empowered, supported, and provided with some steps towards reaching your goals. If you are with a therapist and it just feels like you are doing the same thing and not moving mention it. It may be time to switch it up. No therapist wants you to stay out of obligation we genuinely want to see you grow and improve.
Here at Mindful Steps Therapy, we believe in finding the right fit for each person who reaches out. If we don’t meet your needs that’s perfectly okay, we are here to help you and believe in connecting you to the right therapists. Advocacy is part of our job and helping you connect to the right therapist shouldn’t be hard.
We have developed a great list of therapists in the following areas: sex therapy, couples therapy, personality disorders, addiction, and active domestic violent abuse. These are areas in which we don’t focus on and often help be that stepping stone to those getting great care from experienced therapists who are accepting new clients.
To reach out and click on the Free Discovery Call to connect with Mya or fill out the contact form below!
We are here to help you one step and one moment at a time.
More Resources Click to Follow the Links Below:
Health Care Connect – Family Doctor Search
Psychology Today Directory
Affordable Therapy Network (Low Cost Therapy)
Open Path Collective Directory (Low Cost Therapy)