How do I find a therapist who doesn't suck?
October 15, 2013 9:21 AM Subscribe
I want to go back to therapy, but the last two people I tried were just terrible, and I am sick of blowing my outrageous copays on people who seem incapable of relating to me. How do I find someone who will actually help me?
posted by showbiz_liz to health & fitness (31 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Some background: I did talk therapy before, around age 22, and it was life-changing. So my standards are high, perhaps too high. That therapist was warm and empathetic, professional yet clearly made an effort to relate to me on a personal level, understood what I was 'really' saying and was willing to call me out (gently) on my bullshit. He really helped me to like and believe in myself because he seemed to genuinely like and believe in me.
That was back in my home state. Now I'm in NYC, and I want to get back to it. But the last two people I tried, ugh. The first one I did about 2 months with, the second, 2 sessions.
Neither of them seemed to want to talk to me like a person. The first one, who I found through Psychology Today, barely spoke at all, to the point where I had to ask her several times to please react when I spoke, because it was like talking to a wall. She would then respond to emotional revelations by doing this gesture of sympathy where she like... put her hand on her chest and leaned forward, and it just seemed extremely fake to me. She also badmouthed my previous therapy experience because she doesn't think CBT is any good (she seemed to think that my old shrink merely put a band-aid over my problems, but as I said, he changed my life and I felt it was pretty shitty of her to be openly critical of something I said was helpful to me). I figured I'd 'grow into' her, but I finally dropped her when she just completely failed to understand why I was upset when I found out my boyfriend was very racist. She did not believe me when I said that most of my friends would judge me harshly if they ever found out I was dating him. I was just like "this woman does not understand me or my life."
The second one I found through a 'sliding scale' place I saw recommended here. (They charged me $50 a session, the same as my copay with insurance.) With the woman there, our conversations would typically go like "Work is making me so mad!" "Why do you say that?" "Well, because [problem]." "How does that make you feel?" Well... I told you it made me feel mad like three minutes ago! Almost every word she said basically could have been generated by that Eliza program. It was not a conversation. It was like she was there to Practice Doing Therapy, not to... help me. She was also 100% clueless about LGBT issues. That's not my main problem, so I'm not looking for a person with an LGBT focus, but I expect more than total ignorance.
Also, neither of them would show any response whatsoever when I tried to make a joke. That might sound douchy, as if I was trying to perform for my shrink, but... humor is a huge part of how I communicate, and if I make a bunch of jokes and you just blink and stare at me, I feel like we're not even speaking the same language. How can I expect a person to understand the inside of my head if they won't acknowledge the things I say?
(They were both young, and my first therapist was in his 60s, but I don't want to discount young people just because they're young. But I'm wondering if I should?)
So, yeah. I would love to find another therapist. Really. But now I'm gun-shy of blowing another $50 copay on some idiot fresh out of grad school who will just parrot back the thing I just said without actually helping me in any way. I found my first, amazing therapist by googling "therapy [my town]"; that won't work here, there are thousands of them. So what do I do? How can I find someone who will actually hear what I say?