Updated: Jul 25
So you’ve decided to take the leap and attend therapy, congrats! But now what? You may not know where to start your search, or maybe you've started your search but don't know which therapist to pick. The process may feel overwhelming and you may have a lot of questions which may deter you from even booking an appointment. If this sounds like you keep reading, as this post will give you all the information you need to find the right therapist for you! Before you start searching for a therapist, it can be helpful to take some time to think about what is important to you in your relationship with a therapist. For example, do you prefer a male, female or non-binary therapist? Is race or cultural background important? Do you want virtual or in-person sessions or both? Is there a time of the day or week that works best for you? How frequently do you want to meet with your therapist (if you are unsure about the frequency, you can discuss this with your therapist and alter based on your goals/ treatment plan)? Do you have any special needs that the therapist should know about? Do you need a therapist with a specific speciality or who uses a particular therapeutic approach?
Thinking about the logistics of attending appointments, a therapist’s training/ speciality and their therapeutic orientation can ensure that you find a therapist that meets your needs. There is nothing worse than connecting with a therapist only to find out they don't offer office hours during your availability or they don't specialize in your area of need. Being clear on what you want and need can ensure you find a good match. Once you're clear on what you need from a therapist, it’s time to start looking. You could simply Google “therapists near me” and go through the results to find a therapist who meets your needs. You could also use online directories to help you find a therapist. One such directory is the website Psychology Today. This is one of the most popular and user-friendly platforms, allowing you to search for a therapist and customise your search based on specific criteria such as problem, gender, location and therapeutic approach. Another directory is the Affordable Network, which lists therapists who offer reduced rates and sliding-scale services in Canada.
If you’re on PsychologyToday or any other online directory, you’ll usually see different therapists' profile pictures and small blurbs about their practice. As you start to scroll through all the different profile pictures, it can start to feel like you’re on a dating app, searching for that one person you connect to. Once you find a therapist that you feel connected to I would recommend that you check out their website to learn more about them and what they have to offer. If they still feel like a good fit at this point, you could reach out (via email or phone) to get the ball rolling on the next steps. At this point you may want to share a little about your goals for therapy, ask about their availability and book a consultation. Consultations are usually free 15-minute appointments where you can ask the therapist questions and see what they have to offer before committing to an initial session. Before you book an initial session with a therapist, I would suggest that you attend several consultations with several therapists to ensure you found the right therapist for you!
After a couple of consultations, you will have hopefully found the therapist that you feel most comfortable with and who you want to work with. If not, keep searching. Finding the right therapist can take time and some effort, but it is totally worth it. This may be one of the most important relationships in your life so working with someone you truly be yourself with is extremely important. In fact, some research studies suggest that successful therapy outcomes have more to do with the relationship you have with your therapist than the type of therapy you engage in.
If you do not have coverage for a therapist and cannot access private psychotherapy services you may be able to access time-limited therapy sessions through an Employee Assistance Program which is usually offered through an employer. You may also be able to find free mental health services through your local hospital or community mental health agency. The Canadian Mental Health Association is a nationwide organization that provides a variety of different services to support mental health for all and assists those recovering from mental illness and may be a good place to start! If you need help finding services for yourself and a loved one feel free to reach out as I would be happy to help!
If you were feeling overwhelmed with finding a therapist hopefully this post has helped clarify the process and your feeling more confident about your next steps, and if you still have questions feel free to connect with me!