Conduct a phone interview
Alissa-Kumarova/Shutterstock Before you invest all your time and money in going to a therapist’s office, try a phone interview first. For some people, a phone call is a simple way to connect with a prospective therapist before that initial face-to-face interaction. “That phone conversation is important,” says Sari Cooper, therapist and director of the Center for Love and Sex in New York City. “In my practice, we do phone intakes so we can get to know the person and see if we’re the right fit.” Phone calls help you gauge what the therapist is like because you can hear their voice, listen to their tone or speaking pace, and are able to ask introductory questions about their professional background or what they specialize in. It’s a great opportunity to determine if you could envision yourself talking to this person for 45 minutes each week.
Find someone who has experience working with people like you
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock It’s easier to open up to someone who can relate to you in regards to your age, religious beliefs, or cultural values, or understands how to handle issues from working with similar patients in the past. “For instance, I’ve had some people come into my practice and ask, ‘Have you worked with Jewish couples?’” says Cooper. “It’s important to them that I understand the issues around their culture.” Ask your prospective therapist about their work experiences and if they can’t answer your question directly, that may be a sign that they’re not a good fit. Respect and honesty are two other important qualities you look for in a doctor.
Set goals in the first session
VGstockstudio/Shutterstock An easy clue you’ve found the right therapist is if they have “treatment” goals that align with yours. Goal setting is an important first step to ensure that you both are on the same page about issues you want to focus on. “I like to set goals that we both agree on to be very clear about the work that we are going to be doing,” says Angela Londoño-McConnell, PhD, psychologist and president of AK Counseling & Consulting, Inc., in Watkinsville, Georgia. Discussing your personal goals with a therapist helps you learn about their therapeutic approaches to your problems and whether you two are a fit. A few daily mantras couldn’t hurt either for achieving your goals.