How do I find a therapist?
August 23, 2014 5:41 AM   Subscribe

I think I want to try therapy again, but I'm not sure even what I should be looking for. Looking for general advice and specific recommendations in the DC area.

I'm an early 30s woman in the DC area. I have a history of depression and anxiety. I have been on wellbutrin for about a decade. Despite my history of depression and anxiety, I feel pretty ok and have made some big strides in addressing those issues. Although I still have my ups and downs they are far less severe.

The primary reason I would be going is to address recurring relationship issues. I'm perpetually single and am coming out of a very short lived, ill advised train wreck of a relationship that I am having a very hard time getting over. Not being able to get over guys is a long running theme in my life and while I've gotten better on that score, I still feel like the level of preoccupation I feel 9 months later isn't healthy.

I also rarely meet men I would like to date. Like maybe once or twice a year if I'm lucky. While I'm a bit unique in a lot of ways and I know I'm not the kind of person who is going to be widely compatible with a lot of people, I think I should explore if there is something deeper at play.

Other general considerations:

- Straight
- Atheist
- Very anti woo woo
- Bit of an introvert

So what kind of therapist should I be looking for? I did the whole look at all the bios online thing two years ago and wasn't happy at all with the therapist I found. Hard to articulate what I didn't like other than I found she focused on bizarre things (me becoming an atheist in my teens even though this wasn't traumatizing at all for me, focusing on my parents' divorce when I was 8, forgetting things I told her). I didn't find it helpful at all, but I think I should try again.

So specific strategies for finding a therapist or the "type" of therapy I should be looking Ito would be really helpful. In addition to specific recommendation in Washington, DC. I also wouldn't be opposed to having one of those skype therapists if that's something anyone can recommend. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think many therapists are willing to discuss their approach with potential patients over the phone so you can get an idea if it's a good fit. If you find a few on the profile website that sound good this might be a way to further narrow it down. You could also mention during this call what you didn't like about your previous therapy experience and you can also use their response to that to judge.

I had a good experience with a therapist who practises psychodynamic therapy. He never tried to find some magic bullet in my past -- we generally focused on dissecting my current experiences and trying to tie them back to patterns we had already seen when discussing other experiences. He would frequently stop me and break what I had just said down into some very clear steps so I could see it more clearly. This was a huge help for me, as what I really needed at that time were some tools to stop and examine what was going on in my own thought and emotional processes.

I can't speak for the other types of therapy as this is the only one I've experienced.
posted by duoshao at 6:28 AM on August 23, 2014

Therapists are something you really have to shop around for. So it may take time to find a therapist you like working with, but don't let a few lemons get you discouraged. You also have to be willing sometimes to invest in at least a few sessions before you know if this particular therapist-patient relationship will work out.

Before seeking a new therapist, you may want to consider spending some time with the (free!) site Mood Gym. It will allow you to familiarize yourself with what a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) session would be like. You can determine from there if that method of therapy is something you believe would benefit you. It sounds like your former therapist was more of a psychoanalyst (focusing mostly on your childhood; as opposed to focusing on your present, and working with you openly and directly to understand what thought patterns and behaviors/habits aren't working for you, and how to gently but effectively challenge or change what isn't working so that you can meet certain goals).

CBT therapists are pretty common and there are different approaches within the community. That being said, you may want to look for someone who not only practices CBT but also specializes in codependency (based on what you've described about getting over relationships).

I am also in the DC area and could suggest some therapists in the region - feel free to MeMail me.
posted by nightrecordings at 7:30 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The last time I went searching for a therapist I went with a practice that had both an intake counselor (to match my needs to a professional) and a free or low cost initial appointment. This second bit was really key as I was able to assess a lot of things about the therapist and setting, as well as articulate what I did or did not want in therapy, in a way that I'm not sure would have been as successful over the phone.
posted by sm1tten at 8:17 AM on August 23, 2014

Some therapists are just bad, and it's not because of the type of therapy ("modality" is the fancy word for it) or because the client did a poor job vetting them -- they're just bad.

Sometimes the only way to find out whether a therapist is good is to go to a couple sessions and see if they help. Personal recommendations can be helpful, but sometimes it really is just like trying to find a good hair stylist or an apartment/house or anything else in life. You just have to keep looking till you find someone who works for you.

The issues you're describing don't sound so specialized that you definitely need a therapist trained in X or Y. Look for a licensed professional who seems like they'd be a good fit, do a phone or in-person consult, and trust your gut.
posted by jaguar at 9:31 AM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's a comment I wrote about how to get the most out of therapy. It might help you to think about what you are looking for in a therapist. I am in DC, so feel free to MeMail me if you would like to discuss it further. I am a therapist and know a lot around here.
posted by OmieWise at 12:01 PM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

MeMail me for a recommendation if you'd like.
posted by Cocodrillo at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2014

I'll recommend the best therapist I've ever known, Denise Shauer. She does individual and couples counseling. She might be a good fit for you.

8101 Hinson Farm Rd #117
Alexandria‎ VA‎ 22306-3404
(703) 765-0299
posted by Skaffen-Amtiskaw at 3:09 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Moscow for the space race geek   |   How to walk away from a House (Minneapolis Edition... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.