We all want to experience “the best,” and counseling is no exception.
Here in Charlotte, where Modern Era Counseling is located, people Google “best therapist in Charlotte NC” around 100 times each month.
Problem is, when it comes to counseling and therapy, the question of “who’s the best therapist near me?” is a highly subjective one. After all, can one therapist really be the best therapist for everyone?
If you’re in the process of trying to find a new therapist, this post is for you. I’m going to offer some helpful tips you can use to ensure your next therapist is a good fit for you.
Along the way, I’m going to explain why, when you’re searching for a therapist, the question to ask isn’t Who is the best therapist? but Who is the best therapist for me?
Ask for recommendations
One of the biggest challenges we all face when searching for a good therapist is not being able to see your therapist in action before meeting with him or her in person.
This is why recommendations can be so valuable. Online reviews can be a helpful starting point, but they don’t always tell the whole story. Instead, try asking people you trust if they have anyone they’d recommend. In my practice, it’s not at all uncommon for clients to share with me that a work colleague or a friend of a friend recommended me to them.
Oftentimes, it’s the people in your immediate circle, especially those who know you best, who are best equipped to point you toward the best therapist or counselor for you.
Look for specialists
Ideally, you want to work with a therapist who specializes in treating the specific problem you’re facing.
When you’re looking for a therapist, it’s worth asking yourself the question: What’s the primary issue that’s causing me distress right now? See if you can put it into just a sentence or two.
Maybe it’s past trauma, like an abusive relationship you’ve never addressed. Maybe it’s unresolved grief stemming from the loss of a loved one. Or, maybe its questions of sexual identity you’re afraid to explore with friends and family.
Once you identify the primary challenge you’re facing in life, how do you find a specialist? Psychology Today’s therapist directory is a great resource for finding counselors, therapists, psychologists and other mental health professionals in your area who specialize in different areas. The “issues” filter is an easy way to refine your search to practitioners with the specialty you’re seeking.
(Pro tip: Beware the clinician whose profile or website indicates they work with nearly every issue under the sun. These are generalists, not specialists.)
Trust your gut
I know we were all taught not to judge a book by its cover. And, sure, that lesson can certainly apply to choosing a counselor or therapist. But sometimes our intuition can be a helpful tool for making important decisions.
Chances are, it doesn’t take you long to determine whether you perceive a prospective therapist as being trustworthy. If you’re anything like me, when you visit a therapist’s website, you can “just tell” if he or she is someone you’re going to feel comfortable opening up to.
The point isn’t that your initial judgment is always going to be right. Sometimes it’s not, of course. (And I’ll address that in just a moment.) But if judging a book by its cover means meeting with someone you can sense is going to “get you” versus someone who’s going to need to “prove you wrong,” give yourself permission to judge away.
Schedule a phone consultation
Most of us counselors and therapists are happy to offer free phone consultations upon request. Of course, talking with someone over the phone is by no means the same as meeting with them in person. But a 10- or 15-minute phone call can give you a pretty good feel for a potential therapist.
After a phone consultation, you can better assess whether a therapist is going to be a good fit for you. Does he or she come across as formal or informal? Do they seem to connect with you? Are you comfortable talking with them? Take stock of what the call feels like for you and let that inform your decision.
Phone consults also provide a chance for you to ask any questions you may have. For example, if you’re unsure of a therapist’s area of specialization, this is a great time to ask.
Other questions might include:
- Do you have experience treating _____?
- How do you help people who are dealing with _____?
- How long will therapy take?
Give it a few sessions
Even after you’ve done your research, it will likely take some time for you to connect with your new therapist. I always encourage people to attend at least two or three sessions before making their final decision.
It can help to think of your first few sessions as a kind of trial run. Sure, it’s not a free trial, but finding a therapist who’s a good fit for you is hugely important.
In fact, many studies have shown that building a solid relationship with your therapist is one of the strongest predictors of treatment success. So, if after several sessions, you don’t feel like you and your therapist have formed a solid connection, share your concerns with your therapist. And if you still sense a disconnect, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Trying to find the best therapist for you?
Here at Modern Era, we believe the relationship is everything in counseling, which is why we go out of our way to build meaningful connections with all our clients.
Contact us today to see if our licensed counselors may be a good for you. If we determine that we’re not the best fit for your unique needs, we’ll happily connect you with other great therapists, psychologists, counselors or psychiatrists in the Charlotte area.