Sandy Huynh, LMFT
The One: Finding the Right Therapist for Me
Finding the right therapist can seem like such a daunting task when there are so many to choose from. Directories like PsychologyToday seem to offer endless options without many ways to filter through to what you’re truly looking for. Before giving your potential therapist a short consultation call to gauge fit, take some time to consider the below:
Get crystal clear about why you’re seeking therapy now. We have all lived our lives in very specific ways and it seems to run smoothly until it doesn’t.
Did something happen and you would like to find some clarity for your emotions around it? Are you feeling stuck around a difficult decision?
Are you feeling dissatisfaction around a particular aspect of your life?
Do you simply desire a different perspective?
Once you can get some clarity around some of those questions, it’ll help you to narrow down some of your choices. Therapists will often list out the issues they specialize in, and you can compare that list to your “why”.
One of the most important parts of therapy boils down to the relationship itself. When looking into a potential therapist, you don’t need to know too much personal information, but it would be helpful to be curious about a few questions:
Does this therapist seem approachable?
Do I feel comfortable around them?
Is there a way in how I identify that I would like to see mirrored in them? (ie: sexuality, ethnic background, gender, work experience, language, etc).
Ultimately, can I see myself eventually relating to and trusting this person?
Psychotherapy can look and feel like so many different things. There’s a lot of jargon floating out there that may not necessarily make sense to the general public. There are a few different approaches to psychotherapy (and not an exhaustive list by any means):
Psychodynamic – this ultimately means: making the unconscious conscious. This school of thought says it’s important to delve into our cognitive defenses and see what unconscious mental patterns and beliefs are impacting how we show up. This type of therapy can be more open-ended with goals around learning to trust yourself, undoing certain belief systems, and having a broader perspective of your experience.
Somatic – involving noticing the body, sensation, a felt physical sense, and imagery. It aims to connect the mind to the body. The body carries much wisdom and knowledge and this approach emphasizes the importance of building awareness in the body.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – this is a very structured approach that revolves around the belief that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected and that if we can alter one of those things, it opens the door to changing the other aspects. For example, if we can change our behaviors we can change our thoughts and then we can change our feelings and the cycle can be reversed.
Expressive Arts – using art, poetry, writing, dance, and other creative expressive modalities to tap into the unconscious and create a space for healing.
My own practice is a combination of many of the aspects I listed above with an emphasis on mindfulness. The list could go on, but I hope that this gives you a flavor for what exists out there and that it will point you in the general direction of the type of “how” you’re looking to experience in therapy.
It’s such a courageous step to begin this journey of self-discovery and healing. We all deserve to be witnessed, held, and supported by a trusting other. May you remember that no time on the path of healing is wasted and that you are exactly where you need to be. I wish you all the best in finding The One!
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