5 tips for choosing a therapist

angel

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. Carl Jung

In the past month I probably received at least ten requests from friends asking for referrals for great therapists.

Whenever these calls come in, I try and get my friends to slow down, step back and approach this process with mindfulness and intention. Take your time to get this right; you’re going to be sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with this person. I’m a big fan of psychotherapy as one of many healing modalities. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great Health Realization,  Imago and Voice Dialogue therapy and coaching I received in my 20’s and 30’s. But not all psychotherapists are equal; take the time to carefully vet and choose a therapist who can both honor who you are, see your innate goodness and support you in a way that is right for you.

In case this may be helpful, here are the questions I asked my friends as they begin looking at various options for supporting their mental/emotional health:

• Do they need to be on your insurance plan or are you open to paying out of pocket (highly recommended to be open here—many amazing folks no longer are on insurance plans)?
• Why are you seeing a therapist and what do you hope to accomplish? Another close follow-up to this is: do I need a therapist or a coach? This is a tough one as the lines have become very blurred. Best to ask the therapist (or coach) you’re interviewing to describe how they view the differences. For most, this will provide the clarity you need to make a decision.
• Is it important for you to see someone who honors/incorporates your religious or spiritual beliefs or not really?
• Is it important to see someone who integrates somatic techniques or tools (somatic means “body based’) such as breathwork, body-sensing, yoga/talk, etc. ? I love somatic-based work as it’s said “the issues are in the tissues.” Make sure you take time to examine the therapist’s background/training and areas of specialty here.
• See if you can schedule a short call with the potential therapist before you set an appointment. I like to ask, “What is your philosophy on/approach to therapy?” “Who or what influences your work (other teachers, models, methods, books, etc. )?” And lastly, “What do think is the purpose of therapy?” I think this is key as I believe therapy is not about “fixing” someone-but helping them come into greater awareness and ultimately the highest expression of themselves.

When looking for referrals, ask friends you trust who have similar values for recommendations. Seek out mental health professionals that have direct/specific experience in the area you want to focus on. Don’t be afraid to schedule an initial session or two and then “sit with” the experience for a while to reflect on whether it’s a fit (trust your intuition—how did you feel when you left the appointment?). Don’t be afraid to be direct and share what works/doesn’t work for you with your therapist. Ask them for their vision or plan for working together (duration, etc.). And lastly, be gentle with yourself and give yourself kudos for taking this courageous step. It’s easier to keep doing what you’re doing rather than stepping out and exploring all parts of yourself.

I feel honored that so many mental health professionals come to my retreats and are part of our RTA-Certified Facilitator Community. There are so many amazing therapists out there doing such powerful work. This can be one of most transformative experiences of your life. Dedicating time, energy and resources to your mental/emotional/spiritual health—whether it’s attending a one-day retreat or receiving ongoing support– should be as important as taking in clean air and water. If our outer world is a reflection of our inner world, doesn’t it make sense to take time to invest in the care and feeding of our hearts?

TAKE ACTION: Do you feel called to empower and enhance the emotional well-being of  women in your community? Learn more about our global, 14 year-old, award-winning Personal Renewal Group Program. Each month we welcome new RTA-Certified Facilitators from around the world into our inner circle of women supporting women (added bonus: the program includes a coaching session with me–the only way to access this support as I no longer offer this). 

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom self-renewal workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.

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