„Ani, can I give your phone to a friend of mine? They need to talk to someone, who is not in their personal life.“
„Ani, I recommended you to my colleague. I told them about my experience with you and they would like to contact you.“
„Hi, I took your phone from an acquaintance, who was once your client. Is it possible to book an appointment?“
I have heard all these lines many times (in Bulgarian and in English). Still the most common way people find me for therapy is through a recommendation, person to person, someone told someone. A website is a website and it is necessary, but SEO, keywords, google search cannot replace the personal experience of the clients I have worked with. They could validate my daily work as a therapist. There is no better moment than when your client doesn't need you anymore!
In all the information flow, in the multitude of therapists (some with licenses and degrees, some without), how do you find a therapist that is right for you? Let me clarify - the therapist can NOT and should NOT be one of your friends, colleagues, relatives. This goes completely against all professional norms and would rather do harm!
Let me clarify - the therapist can NOT and should NOT be one of your friends, colleagues, relatives.
Some recommendations that I hope will help you in your search:
1. Who is the person who recommends the therapist? Do your trust them?
2. Check the therapist's professional and academic background. Don't be misled by "likes" and glossy ads.
3. Make sure the therapist has experience counseling the specific issues that are troubling you. No one is an expert in everything. And certainly therapists, like all other people, also have biases - therapy should help, not harm a person. It's good for any therapist to know which are the attitudes that will prevent them from doing their job well.
4. In the first session, expect that the therapist will ask you (sometimes not very pleasant) questions about family history, medical history, have you been to a psychologist/therapist before and if so, on what occasion, then they will zoom into the current situation. There will be questions that you may find difficult to answer, but it is crucial for the therapist to know the details and honesty is one of the key factors in creating an effective therapeutic work.
5. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with the therapist. Wait at least a few sessions because a good therapeutic relationship can take time to establish. Still, if the feeling persists, you always have the option to refuse to work with that therapist.
6. What is the time that the therapist can see you? This is usually key, especially for working people. Do they work on the weekend? What is the location of their office. People don't think about location, and it matters because if you have to drive across town to get to your therapist, you'll probably get so frustrated that you'll be able to do it one or two or three times, but then you'll get sick of it. And being late once or twice is understandable - you missed the subway, there's a traffic jam. But then it can be taken as a signal of resistance on your part to participate in therapy at all.
7. You may expect the therapist to invite other members of your family at a stage of therapy or right at the beginning. The family system and the interactions between family members are very often at the core of the experience of (un)happiness and critical moments.
8. The therapist should fully understand your family dynamics and help you explore how specific patterns of behavior contribute to current problems.
9. The therapist's office should be a pleasant place for you to be, to feel comfortable, to enjoy coming into. You should feel safe, you should feel calm. The therapist is required to abide by all ethical standards - confidentiality and the ability not to judge are some of the most basic.
Effective therapy depends on both the therapist and the effort the client puts into the therapeutic process. With some therapists you will feel that you connect more easily than with others. Gender also matters - would you be more comfortable working with a man or a woman? This is also relevant to the meaning you attach to the therapist.
Good luck from me!