Many people are having big ah-ha’s and flashes of clarity after what we’ve been through over the last three years. Others are interested in exploring new ways of being. During the last few weeks, I’ve received at least ten calls from friends and clients asking for referrals for great therapists.
Whenever these requests come in, I encourage my friends to slow down, step back and approach this process intentionally. 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 challenge you in a way that supports your highest growth. Above all, trust your gut!
Here are the questions I ask my friends as they begin looking at various options for supporting their mental/emotional health:
- Does this person need to be on your insurance plan or can you pay out of pocket (I highly recommended you stay open here—many amazing folks are not on insurance plans)? On a tight budget? I have not tried it, but have clients who have appreciated the affordable support they have received through BetterHelp. Also make sure to research any Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) your employer may offer; ask your company’s human resources department about this.
- 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 are often blurred. It’s 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. You can learn more about coaching through the International Coaches Federation.
- Is it important for you to see someone who honors/incorporates your religious or spiritual beliefs (this is key for many)?
- Do you want to see someone who integrates somatic techniques (“body based” practices) such as somatic experiencing, mindfulness, breathwork, body sensing, yoga/talk therapy, etc.? I love somatic-based work and believe, “the issues are in the tissues.” Take time to examine the therapist’s background/training and areas of specialty here and check out the highly popular book,“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk.
- Schedule a short call with the potential therapist before you set up an appointment. I like to ask: What is your philosophy or approach to therapy? Who or what influences your work (other teachers, models, methods, books, etc. )? And, What do you 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 (ex: ADHD, addiction, parenting). Stay open to tele-health, it can be highly effective. Don’t be afraid to schedule an initial session or two and then “sit with” the experience for a while to reflect on whether you’ve found a fit (trust your intuition—how did you feel when you left the appointment?). Be direct and share what works and doesn’t work for you with your therapist. Ask them for their vision or plan for working together (duration, expectations, etc.). 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 exploring all parts of yourself (read my recent post on dancing with your shadow).
I feel honored that so many physicians, coaches and mental health professionals come to my retreats and are part of our community. There are many amazing counselors out there doing powerful work. Getting support can be one of the most transformative experiences of your life. Dedicating time, energy and resources to your mental/emotional/spiritual health 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 emotional self-care?
FOUR NEW SELF-RENEWAL EVENTS/RESOURCES ~ JOIN ME!
- **SOLD OUT: JOIN THE WAITING LIST.** September 15-17th ~ Sing, Dance, Pray: Romancing the Beloved at the Retreat Center at Lake Logan (45 min. from Asheville, NC airport). Located on sacred land in the oldest mountain range in the world. Limited to 25 women. Email info at reneetrudeau dot com to be on our waiting list. Learn more.
- October 13-15th ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: A Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Berkshire Mountains, MA). Packages start at just $635. This is our most popular retreat of the year (gorgeous leaf color; Kripalu pictured above!). Learn more/register. Can’t make it? Join me Jan. 19-21 for Sing, Dance, Pray: Romancing the Beloved women’s self-renewal retreat.
- Wild Souls Nature Adventures (based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC): authentic movement classes, community song circles, full moon hikes, meditation workshops, women’s circles & more. New offerings are listed each week; have me design a custom experience for your team/friends. Join us Sunday, August 20th for Wild Souls Authentic Movement near Asheville, NC. Learn more.
- Download your self-guided retreat today ~ Ready to prioritize your self-care, relax your body and enjoy empowering mentoring from Renee 24/7 from the comfort of your home, car or office? Our highly popular self-paced online retreats are only $59. Download & enjoy today. Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact, interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations/teams worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 450 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups/retreats based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.