I’ve been a fan of talk therapy since my senior year of college. I needed help getting out of a funk after a bad break-up and went to talk with a counseling graduate student on campus. I don’t really remember how I got there, but assume after weeks of talking with friends and family about it they suggested a therapist might be more productive than partying. I remember how good it felt to tell my story, cry a little and not feel like I was being judged or burdening a friend by re-hashing and over-analyzing the details over and over.
Since then, I’ve gone on and off over the years. It was so helpful to me that first time in college, and I realized it didn’t have to be something I did only because something “bad” happened. I mean who doesn’t love an excuse to talk about themselves for a whole hour straight? And leave with some tips and insight into yourself to live your best life. The ultimate self-care.
If you’ve hit a wall, are in a funk or just need some help to deal with all the things (or someone to tell you to cut out some of those things), here are some tips to find a therapist:
Do your research.
Finding a therapist can be a lot like dating. You want to feel comfortable with them so you can really open-up (when we’re vulnerable that’s where the magic happens, y’all!) And you probably have a checklist of qualities that are important to you — likability, things in common, location and convenience, gender and so on.
The best way I’ve found therapists is word of mouth. If you discover that therapy is right for you, ask around. Text a friend for his or her recommendation, search your local mom’s Facebook group or ask for recommendations there. Chances are even if the people you’re asking don’t go themselves, they have a friend who does that they can ask. And if you want to know my favorites in Austin, reach out! I’d love to tell you more.
Proximity is important and virtual options are becoming more and more popular.
Most therapists have very flexible appointment schedules so be sure to find one that fits best for you. Many can see you in the evenings if you need to go after bedtime or during your lunch break at work. Finding one close to home or work, or wherever you’ll be coming from most frequently, is a good idea. You don’t want to resent the experience because you’re having to drive out of your way to see them. Like most other appointments, you may face a cancellation fee if you try and cancel too close to your appointment. under a certain window of time. Psychology Today has a directory by neighborhood and other filters — insurance accepted, gender, specialty areas, etc.
If the idea of sitting across from a stranger and sharing your feelings with them seems overwhelming, virtual therapy has become increasingly popular and may be worth trying. Apps like Talkspace match you with a therapist from anywhere in the country and you can text and video chat as needed. Betterhelp is another good online resource.
Try a few out.
Therapy is an investment so you owe it to yourself to find someone who’s the right fit. Most therapists use your first appointment to learn more about you, your background and what you hope to get out of the experience. It’s a good chance to for you to get a feel for their style and decide if it will be a good fit. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to try out others until you feel comfortable with someone.
You don’t have to have a “bottom” moment to go.
Some people have a perception that therapy is only for people who hit a “bottom” or experience tragic events or circumstances. While it’s certainly for those types of situations, it’s not only for them. A hard event was certainly what led me to therapy the first time, it’s not why I’ve gone since then. For me, it’s about continuously improving the way I live my life and lean into my relationships, developing the tools I need to get out of a funk and growing and developing in new ways.
So maybe there’s something you’ve been thinking about how to solve on your own? Or maybe you’re struggling with this new role of mom? Give therapy a try. It’s the ultimate tool in my sself-caretool belt.