How do I find my therapist
February 17, 2020 2:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm feeling rather tired of adulting and would really like to talk to someone professional about it. I can afford it, so why not, right? But what kind of therapist do I want and how do I find them?

There's really nothing objectively wrong in my life. I have a lovely, supportive husband, two lively children, helpful parents and in-laws and a job that is sometimes stressful but comes with nice coworkers and supportive superiors.
That said, I brought my daughter to kindergarten this morning and was so envious I could have cried. I wished I could have stayed there where people make sure I get healthy lunches and naps and give me low key crafts to do and the only expectation is "we don't hit people."

There's just not enough sleep and regular food and excercise, too much exhaustion, life maintenance crap, procrastination and entirely avoidable stress in my life.

I kind of feel guilty about taking this too seriously (I'm allowed to, right?) but I would really like to TALK to someone who's heard it all and will just let me talk it out and figure out how to not feel that way so much in future.

So what am I looking for? And how do I find this person?

I had therapy in my teens for bad stuff but don't really want to try and find that person again. My husband had therapy but I really don't want the same therapist (maybe she can recommend someone?)
I'm not in the US and there is a bit of a stigma, so I don't exactly just want to ask friends.

posted by Omnomnom to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, YES GET THERAPY - no you shouldn't feel selfish for doing it, or overprivileged. Look at it this way, if you were feeling physically run down and low-key constantly ill, you would go to see someone about it, this is the same. Make sure you tell yourself firmly that you deserve this, otherwise you will keep looking for a therapist and then distracting yourself with guilt-thoughts and never do it, as a form of self-sabotage.

Secondly, try to scale down the importance of who you find, at first - this might help the decision feel less weighty and overwhelming. Therapists are like dentists - if you go along to one and they seem weird, sadistic or just not very helpful, you can never go back and find another one. The range of different approaches and techniques is SO vast, that if you don't click with one, there'll be another one down the road who you do.

If you're in the UK, I used to find a therapist when I needed help last year, and the one I found was absolutely wonderful - I'm a happier person and a better parent for seeing her.

If you can't decide, pick the first one who sounds nice from the top of the list, or one with a face that you think looks kind. Go along for a session, and I think you'll know after just that first one if they are right for you - either you'll come out feeling a bit lost, or you'll walk away feeling optimistic and energised.

Your therapist is out there! Good luck!
posted by greenish at 3:02 AM on February 17 [7 favorites]

+1 to what Greenish said. You mentioned getting a recommendation from your husband's therapist - if he rates her then I would definitely do that - I've used this approach in the past. She will know other therapists near you and if you can describe what you're looking for then she may well be able to make a specific suggestion.
Also happy to suggest someone by memail in the unlikely event you live anywhere near me (Cambridge UK).
posted by crocomancer at 3:27 AM on February 17

Nthing asking husband's therapist for a recommendation if you (and husband) are comfortable with that. The therapist I currently see was a recommendation by my son's therapist and it worked out so very well.

That said, if your main urge and need is to talk, than I think it makes the most sense to look for someone offering talk therapy (eg person-centered approach), rather than behavioural, etc. I currently see a talk therapist and am extremely happy with the approach. Also, if this is any metric to go by, seeing her has enabled me to finally go through with some life changing decisions that always seemed out of reach.

re the actual search, this will depend on the country you live in, but where I live (Austria), the default is that therapists offer what is called "a get to know you-conversation", which is free of charge. So if you should decide not to continue with this therapist, you do not pay for this session, but once you commit to seeing the therapist regularly you will also be billed for this first sesssion. With some, this is shorter than the regular session of 50 minutes (eg. 30 minutes). I think this may well be that case in other European countries as well, ask or look for it on their website.
But even if this free get to know you-session is not on offer where you live, you can still as was pointed out above, simply not return after that initial session. Nothing bad will happen!

And one last, think, my father was a psychotherapist, and one thing he always said was to look for an older therapist, as both the life expererience and of course professional experience are part of what you pay for and there is more of that from an older therapist.
posted by 15L06 at 4:19 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

There's really nothing objectively wrong in my life....I kind of feel guilty about taking this too seriously (I'm allowed to, right?)

I had similar feelings when I entered therapy, but within a few months I was all "OH, surprise, I really do have some serious stuff to deal with." When you're having symptoms like you describe, feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion and longing, usually there are some driving causes even if you may not have been aware of it. And even if not, whatever, everyone should make use of the therapy they have available. Very few of us are equipped in our upbringing with all the tools and skills you need to make it through life in a grounded and reasonable manner. It is a responsible thing to go in for a 'tune-up' as an adult and work on those skills. It will make not only your life better but also all those around you, and improve your relationships going forward for the rest of your life.

As for finding. ASking the husband's therapist is a good idea. Think about the other filters you want, too. When I did a search I read a lot of online profiles and had a sort of mental checklist. I agree 100% to look for an older person. I also looked for someone who wasn't "all in" on one particular school of thought like DBT or CBT, but who understood a lot of methods and could pick and choose based on client needs. I prioritized the person's educational background and professional activitis because I wanted someone who had had rigorous training and was smart and engaged in the profession. And I also read their personal statements carefully to see how they sounded as humans - was it the usual copy or did they work to really express themselves and say something I resonated with? Another thing to look at is the part where they talk about what they specialize in. Look for things that sound like your issue ("adjustment" is a big one for midlife type issues); if they have more experience treating that stuff, that's better for you. Then, finally, I did the round of get-to-know-you phone calls. These are very revealing, and it's no problem to move on if you don't 'click' on the phone.

And as others have said, if you go to Session I and don't feel sure, you can try another session to see if things improve, or move on. Sometimes the first session is weird, it's a first date and it might be awkward. But if you have a gut feeling like "no," it's OK to continue your search. Don't feel bad. This is a business for these folks and they understand you have options, and also as therapists would support you in exercising them because that's what best for you.

Good luck. I hope this is the start of a really rewarding journey for you.
posted by Miko at 4:49 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]

There are retreats that are kind of like adult kindergarten- you do yoga or meditate or whatever, and someone makes you nice vegetarian stews. Hitting is definitely discouraged. :) These range in length from days to months. Maybe something to investigate?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:31 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]

Part of a therapist’s job description is to help people find the right therapy and therapist for them. Don’t feel the least bit shy contacting your husband’s therapist for help in that regard.

I kind of feel guilty about taking this too seriously (I'm allowed to, right?)

Allowed to take it seriously or allowed to feel guilty about taking it seriously? :-)

Trick question. You’re allowed to feel however you feel. We don’t get a lot of choice about that — how we respond to our feelings is where the work begins.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:49 AM on February 17

Your husband's therapist might well be willing to recommend someone - or your doctor.

I'm going to assume that if you're in an area where therapy is stigmatized, then your options may be limited (as in you might not have practitioners of DBT, CBT, ACT, EMDR etc all within easy travel distance). The important thing is that you find someone you can trust and get comfortable with (it will likely take some time). I'm in an area where therapy is less stigmatized, but I honestly focus on who accepts my insurance and is in my area, rather than specific modalities. My current therapist is not my dream therapist but she is helpful, and I can afford her and see her on my lunch breaks without requesting time off from work.

You could also make an appointment with a therapist just to help sort out this question.
posted by bunderful at 7:25 AM on February 17

And if you made an anonymous post here with your location information, you might get specific recommendations.
posted by bunderful at 7:25 AM on February 17

I joined Self Coaching Scholars a while back because I wanted therapy but wasn't sure where to go and what to discuss. The program comes with daily assignments that help you learn about yourself and examine your thoughts and feelings. It also comes with a weekly 20-minute session with a coach. Everything is online, so I didn't have to travel. Those sessions are my therapy.

It's not for everyone, but it was just what I needed when I was in a similar situation.
posted by JXM368 at 7:32 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

Trust yourself. If you feel like you need to talk to a therapist, you probably need to talk to a therapist. It's like dating, be ready to try a few people before you settle on the right person. And again, trust yourself, you'll know when it's a good match and the right balance of being able to talk through things and receive advice.

As far as self care goes, first thing is to find a way to get enough rest. Improving conditions to get a solid night of sleep or finding ways to nap if you can't get a solid night sleep. Sleep is one of the biggest and most underrated factors in our mental state. We need it and very little in the speedy modern world around us acknowledges or accepts that. So I hope you're able to figure that piece of the puzzle out.

In the US, there's a site by Psychology Today that lets you search for therapists by all kinds of criteria. Maybe there's something similar where you live? Otherwise, word of mouth or searching a directory of providers (again in the states, insurance often provides a way to search providers that take your insurance) may be a good starting point?

I hope you're able to find someone you can connect and work with.
posted by kokaku at 10:10 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

Want to start small and self-directed? Grab an ACT workbook like "Get Out Of Your Mind And Into Your Life" (it's on Amazon, etc.) and get a feel for how evidence-based therapy works—you answer questions and prompts, do some reading, and more or less get into the routine of being analytical along with expert guidance. There are also a lot of ACT resources online, for free, especially from Dr. Steven C. Hayes. If you're interested in working with a therapist on some ACT, Hayes' website has links to help you find ACT-trained practitioners.

Why ACT? It's evidence-based and has a lot going for it in terms of responding to complicated thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and so on (e.g. it's been a big help for me regarding anxiety, procrastination, grief, and a host of other life challenges). A key goal of ACT, and most kinds of therapy, is to get you comfortable with the lifelong practices that help you find a place of psychological flexibility. I didn't start until I was in a bona fide crisis, and I wish I'd had the wherewithal to have started sooner. If you have any questions about what it's like to be in this kind of therapy, I'm happy to talk more via memail.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:50 AM on February 17

There's really nothing objectively wrong in my life. ... I kind of feel guilty about taking this too seriously (I'm allowed to, right?) but I would really like to TALK to someone who's heard it all and will just let me talk it out and figure out how to not feel that way so much in future.

Hey, listen. Therapy isn't only for people in the middle of a mental health crisis. Therapy is for anyone who feels like they could benefit from therapy. You don't have to apologize or feel guilty for wanting someone to help you work through the stresses of life.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:44 AM on February 17 [2 favorites]

Given your allusion to bad things when young, and the fact that you specifically mentioned wanting a childhood experience, I am wondering if you may have experienced parentification as a child. If so, it may be useful to see a trauma therapist, and/or to look into "reparenting yourself."
posted by WCityMike at 11:50 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]

I have been reasonably successful at finding information and worksheets for CBT, DBT, and ACT therapy online. There are also free or freemium apps for these therapies available. This is a good, not too time consuming way to look through those three approaches and see if any of them appeal to you. I found some of the worksheets very calming and helpful and some annoying and patronising and that helped me figure out what kind of direction I preferred.

For other kinds of therapy it's harder (or even impossible) to get a taste in advance solo. It may be possible to read books about them just to see if what's described sounds appealing, though.
posted by Cozybee at 1:10 AM on February 19

« Older Resisting a pointless Yelp war   |   Death of a relative - how to deal Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments