How To Choose A Shrink: Part 2

freud2If you happened to miss the initial guide, be sure to check it out.

One reader asked a few very good follow up questions based on part one. Here is an excerpt:

Finding a therapist, especially when there isn’t anything catastrophic wrong, is a challenging thing. There just seems no good way to find someone without a referral from a friend, which most people (including myself) are too uncomfortable asking for.

How do you do a phone screen? How do you know if the counseling is “working”? How long is a fair trial?

Allow me to attempt to tackle the stigma of going to counseling. I realize that many people do not wish to let it be known that they are indeed human. That they experience difficulties and struggles in life. That they make mistakes and some struggles they’ve brought on themselves.

The simple fact is, everyone who has walked on the face of the earth would benefit from counseling at some point in life. Being willing to express your humanness with another person may bring about a deeper friendship with them in the future.

On the other hand, I do understand there are those who don’t want to let others know they are having problems in life.

In this case, after you do a quick search through the local services, Internet, or insurance provider lists, check out the websites of those offering services. That way you’ll at least get a bit more information about them and their practice. If you dig around on their site a bit, you may discover all the paperwork needed, information about fees, as well as anything they may have published or written which will give you more information about their views.

As for a phone screening, it begins by getting them on the phone. Which can sometimes be difficult.

Sadly, there are many clients that report to me that other therapists didn’t return messages. It may be easiest to make first contact via email. If so, feel free to ask some of these questions in your email exchanges.

Through whichever medium you use, here are a few things to ask.

  • What types of clients and issues do you specialize in?
  • How much experience do you have working with your particular issue?
  • What is your view of the counseling process?
  • What are your fees?
  • What types of payment do you accept?
  • How do you structure the therapy process? Weekly, monthly, intensive.

I believe it’s important to get these out of the way up front, that way you can get down to business during the first session

How long is a fair trial to see if it’s working?

The answer to this question depends on you, your situation and your goals for therapy. Often, clients will be in therapy for 6 to 8 sessions. At least that’s what research shows. I see my clients on average 4 to 6 times. Again, this varies greatly according to issues being addressed.

My belief is that as a therapist, I am trying to work myself out of a job with each client as fast as I can. At the same time however, I encourage my clients to keep coming if they are getting good benefit from our time together.

As for if therapy is working or not, you are the judge and jury.

The number one key for success in therapy is the connection made between therapist and client. Everything else builds from there. If you don’t connect, then keep looking. You can also use the therapist as a resource at this point. Ask them to help you find someone with whom you may better connect. This may seem awkward, but it’s a good strategy to try if the initial match is not there. On a side note, if your therapist is offended that you bring this up or their feelings are hurt because you no longer want to come to them, then maybe they don’t need to be conducting therapy, instead they should be going to a therapist of their own.

There’s no magic formula for knowing if the therapy is working or not, other than trusting your gut. More often than not our gut looks out for us. But it is often ignored too much. If you are unsure about how things are progressing, bring this up in your next session. Your therapist should have your interests in mind throughout the process. Work with them to reach your goals.

I welcome any comments or questions if these 2 guides don’t address your concerns. Please feel free to use the contact form.

(photo source)

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