Are all therapists the same?
July 19, 2012 3:15 PM Subscribe
I need therapy. I have no idea how to start. How does one pick a therapist if all seem the same?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I have searched online for information about therapists in my area and found a network of local psychologists and psychotherapists. They are all listed with their special fields, but those sound very broad and generic to me. There are at least 7 in my immediate area, about the same distance, so just starting with the most (logistically) conventient isn't working either. And all look like nice people on the photos. The only ones I could exclude so far are couple therapists. I know I'm not a couple, but other than that, the special fields aren't very helpful. All of them list "depression, anxiety, stress relief" and one also has "OCD" listed. I'm not an expert, but OCD is likely one of the few things I don't qualify for. Since I don't know what I actually might have, beyond a broad category, I don't know how to decide which of them I want to make an appointment with.
Do I just call all of them and ask "Hello there, do you have experience with (list of approximate self diagnosis)?" I could be wrong about my "diagnosis", they are the experts, after all. So this approach seems like I could easily find the "right" therapist for something I don't really have.
I have a bad history with doctors in general. I was pumped up with sleeping pills in my youth to "cure" my insomnia and really none of them worked. In my late teens, I tried to find a therapist and just went to the first I found in the Yellow Pages. He proceeded to diagnose me with several different personality disorders, most contradicting the previous one (basically jumping from Cluster A to C to B and back on a weekly basis). The next told me in the first session that I had "too many symptoms" and none were his field of expertise, so he wouldn't treat me. Asked for a recommendation who to see about it, I got a shrug. I pretty much lost my faith in doctors due to that.
What I want to treat is the massive problem to focus on anything (I'm hestitant to self-diagnose, but inattentive ADD fits the bill; super-easily distracted, can't focus, can't organize easy tasks, can't ever shut up the inner monologue, occassions of hyperfocus, trouble sleeping; lifelong issues with most of that) and the growing anxiety. Getting full blown panic attacks because of the door bell ringing (and being pretty sure it's just mail) was what made me realize I need therapy, really really bad.
Due to my unemployment being cut to barely anything (not enough for basic needs such as food and electricity) because I missed appointments - because some days I'm too afraid to leave the house - makes things just worse. So the problem is not just "possible ADD and bad case of social anxiety", it's also financial pressure, fear of debt (something I magically managed to avoid so far), making it all rather urgent. I don't want to rush the therapist search (I've seen where that got me in the past), so any advise how to select and approach a potential therapist from my list is welcome.
How do I know a therapist is a good match, if they all look like nice people, are close to my house and list the same fields? They are also all accepted by my health insurance.
What do I ask when I call and what answers would be red flags/don't bother to make an appointment territory?