I always say that finding the right therapist is like dating: Two great people don’t always make the best match. The search for a therapist in Orange County can be overwhelming. Almost anyone can hang a sign that says “counselor” or “coach” where it takes years of training to earn the license as a “Clinical Psychologist.” That training allows someone to know how to say the things you aren’t necessarily aware of, even if they are harder to hear at first. That initial connection with your therapist sets the framework and foundation for the work you will do together, and the relationship you form is the single best predictor of outcome in therapy.
Source the people you can trust the most for referrals. Family, friends, and/or co-workers may have had previous positive personal experience with a therapist or know someone who has. Additionally, you may search a therapist via Internet database. If you are seeking therapy to address a particular issue (i.e. addiction, eating disorder, couples counseling, trauma) you may consider searching out a specialist in that particular area.
When making initial contact with a therapist, feel free to ask questions! Again, this is a person who will hopefully play a significant and beneficial role in your life. Some questions to consider could be what their therapeutic style is as well as what experience they have working in your area of focus. Do they have a particular theoretical orientation that will guide your work together? What might be their general approach to the area of focus you are hoping to work on? This will give you an idea what your therapeutic journey might look like with this particular person.
Above all, keep in mind that the relationship between therapist and client is the most crucial element to successful and effective therapy. Ultimately, your ability to find benefit in therapy will be based on your own ability to be open, honest, and expressive. The person in the room with you should be able to create a safe, warm, comfortable environment in which you feel capable doing that. The best therapist for you is the one with whom you find the most connection—where you feel heard, understood, and attended to. Trust your instincts as to the feelings you get from this person when you initially speak, as well as when you are in the room with them. Do you feel that they are listening to you attentively? Do you feel that they have empathy for what you are expressing to them? Do you feel encouraged about the possibility of addressing what brought you in? And, of course, do you want to come back and talk with them again?
Put simply—finding the “best” therapist means finding the best therapist for you. Pay attention to the goodness of fit, the relationship, and your level of comfort and safety, as well as their skill set and potential area of specialization. When these areas align, the likelihood of successful therapy drastically increases.
Here is a great piece in the Huffington Post on how to find a therapist: