So you are ready. After months, maybe even years of thinking about it, you are finally ready to take the step of seeking professional help to sort through unaddressed issues that you know have been negatively affecting your life. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for getting this far. Readiness is progress. Readiness should be celebrated! *ques audience applause and cheers*
Now that you are ready, here comes the task of finding a therapist…. And how the heck do you do that?
DO NOT STRESS. I GOT YOU.
Here are a few ways you can jump start your search for the perfect therapist for you.
1. You can ask your primary care provider. So whether it be during your annual check up or calling into the office, your doctor usually has a behavioral health organization that they work with and can refer you to. First time I asked my doctor for someone to speak to he gave me a card and his secretary called and set up my first appointment with someone that he knew and trusted.
2. Check out psychology today. Psychologytoday.com allows you to search for a therapist based on zip code. What is great about this listing is that it provides details such as their licensing, address, picture, specialty and the insurances that they accept. Therapyforblackgirls.com also has a directory (not as detailed or exhaustive) but definitely helpful if you are looking for a black woman therapist. Both also have resources outside of this directory as well. If you are in Massachusetts check out our directory at woyminc.org. We will constantly be updating this list.
3. Call your insurance. Another way you can find a therapist is by calling the member services number on the back of your insurance card and telling them that you are looking for a therapist. Some insurance cards have a specific number for mental health and substance abuse services. They can give you names of therapists that accept your insurance in your area.
4. You can also go the telehealth route. Companies like TalkSpace have all their therapy done remotely, so if you prefer texts, phone calls or facetime with your busy schedule this may also be an option for you.
So now that you have an idea how to find one, what are some things you should keep in mind?
1. Your first therapist is not the end all be all. Finding a therapist is like finding the perfect dress to wear to that summer beach wedding, or the perfect barber after your old one moves. You try it and if it does not fit you move on to the next one. Do not let a not so ideal experience jade you in the search for finding the best therapist for you.
2. If you are a POC get a POC, if you are white get a POC. POC stands for people/person of color for those that do not know, but I truly believe that many white therapists do not understand the black experience enough to unpack it. Not all, but most. And I think white people would benefit from a POC perspective because it is helpful for their growth in stepping out of their racially influenced bias.
3. Be ready to do work. Therapy isn’t like it is in the movies. You are challenged with new practices and concepts that you have to integrate into your life. Think about it this way, you have behaviors that you have been dealing with your entire life. Two or three sessions does not equate to unpacking years of life experiences. Most of the work happens outside of the room and you have to be ready to do that work or you will be wasting your time and money.
Hope this helps you in your journey. If you have any tips to add please mention them in the comments section!