Finding the right help can be scary.
The internet is full of people offering different services, ranging from well-meaning armchair experts on Instagram, to highly qualified professionals of many stripes.
If you’re looking for a psychologist you’re probably already experiencing anxiety and depression. So I don’t want to put you off seeking help.
But because you’re in a vulnerable state, it’s important to know how to protect yourself by finding a professional who won’t take advantage of you.
1. Do a bit of homework before getting a referral.
To get a medicare rebate if you’re Australian, you need to go to your GP and get a referral to a psychologist. But which one?
I suggest browsing some psychologist profiles using Psychology Today and picking someone who can provide for your circumstances.
Some professionals will argue that specific problems require specific types of therapy or expertise. But the research says that the most important thing is your relationship with your therapist.
2. Trust but verify.
You need to be able to trust your therapist. It’s important to choose someone who has been trained how to provide this special type of relationship.
A relationship with a therapist is very different from a friend, co-worker, family member, or spouse. The worst case scenario is to encounter someone who is an actual predator, pretending to be a therapist so they can exploit vulnerable people. It doesn’t happen all the time but it does happen.
However, it is more common to encounter people who mean well and want to help, but don’t have the skills or knowledge to be a therapist. Without the right training, people don’t know what they don’t know. Ignorance or lack of skill can cause as much damage as active exploitation and abuse, especially for people who have experienced abuse.
Do yourself a favor and avoid this situation. It is quick, free, and easy to check whether a therapist is licensed or registered to practice their profession, check out the links below.
3. Find a therapist with whom you vibe.
There’s nothing worse than the prospect of seeing more than one therapist. But the reality is, that sometimes, you’ve gotta kiss a few frogs to find your prince/princess.
Don’t be put off therapy just because you don’t like the first therapist you meet. It sucks to go through this, and I won’t pretend that every therapist is going to understand. However, a good therapist will respect your approach, because they understand that this is one of the most important relationships in your life. You want to make sure you’re letting the right person in.
4. Create a short list of therapists and then Google them.
This sounds very simple but it’s so important. If someone has been in the news for any reason (good or bad), you’ll find out about it. You can get some insight into the type of person they are before you spend your time and money with them.
5. Read reviews or ask for recommendations from previous clients.
Ever seen a therapist publish a bad client review on their website? Neither have I.
To find unbiased reviews and testimonials, look for the many websites that allow clients to review therapists on a third-party platform. Find reviews by googling “therapist name” AND “profession” AND “review” or check out websites like www.ratemds.com
You can also Google "therapist name" AND "news" to learn more about your prospective therapist.
If you can’t find any online reviews, ask friends, family, or your doctor for recommendations.