Dr. Julia Samton breaks down how to find the best therapist for you in seven steps.
When it comes to taking care of your mental health, finding the right practitioner is essential. Whether you are choosing therapy, counseling, or psychiatric care, the right mental health professional can make a tremendous difference to your progress. Nevertheless, with so many options available in a metropolitan area such as New York City, the process of finding the perfect practitioner can be daunting. This blog will focus on how to choose a clinician who resonates with your unique needs and fosters a positive therapeutic relationship.
1. Identify your needs
The first step in choosing the right clinician is to identify your needs. This will take some self-reflection. Consider what challenges you are facing. Are you feeling chronically anxious or depressed? Do you constantly find yourself in destructive relationships? Are your difficulties with social anxiety keeping you stuck in your career or personal life? Perhaps you have recently lost a loved one or experienced a trauma that you continue to revisit. Understanding your difficulties will help guide you in selecting a professional with the expertise to address your concerns.
2. Research Different Modalities and Approaches
Mental health practitioners use different therapeutic modalities and approaches. Take some time to familiarize yourself with various techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), psychodynamic psychotherapy, supportive psychotherapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). If you are dealing with trauma, you might explore Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). By familiarizing yourself with different modalities, you will better determine which approach aligns with your preferences and goals. However, keep in mind that the strength of the therapeutic alliance you develop with your therapist is the single most important predictor of the effectiveness of the therapy, so don’t necessarily be too wedded to thinking you need a specific therapy modality.
3. Consider Credentials and Training
Mental health practitioners have various types of education and specializations. If you are interested in exploring medication for your condition, you will need someone who is able to prescribe psychotropic medications (medications that have an effect on mood and/or behavior). For example, a psychiatrist is a mental health professional who completed a four-year medical degree and had specialized training to learn the field of psychiatry. A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) is an individual who completed a master’s in nursing and has advanced training in mental health care. Both of these types of professionals can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe, and manage medications. Some Psychiatrists and PMHNPs provide psychotherapy (talk therapy), although many practices only psychopharmacology (the use of medication to address psychiatric symptoms and conditions).
Therapists or psychotherapists use talk therapy to help their patients navigate whatever challenges they are facing. A therapist will use a combination of listening and conversation to identify emotional triggers and stressors and how these affect your mental state. As described above, talk therapists might have training in a specific discipline such as CBT, ACT, or DBT. Many focus on different conditions, such as trauma, grief, anxiety, or phobias. Still, others might specialize in group therapy, family therapy, or couples therapy. If you take into account your personal needs, it will help you select a professional with the right background to help you navigate whatever obstacles you are facing.
4. Consider Education
As mentioned above, if you are looking for someone to prescribe medication, you will want to find someone with the proper credentials, such as a PMHNP or an MD. If you are considering therapy in addition to medication, you might ask your prescriber if they also practice psychotherapy (so-called “combination treatment”) or if they regularly collaborate with other clinicians who provide therapy since it is optimal for you if your prescriber and therapist work closely together on your behalf. There are many different types of practitioners who focus solely on providing psychotherapy. For example, a psychologist with a PhD or a PsyD has doctoral degrees in psychology. Other clinicians, such as Social Workers (LMSWs or LCSWs) and Mental Health Counselors (LMHC.) Some choose to work with a clinician in training. Trainees often offer reduced fees but are still completing their training and coursework, so will not offer the same level of expertise and experience. Regardless of the letters behind a mental health professional’s name, it is important to ask about their approach and specialization and, if relevant to you, whether they have completed their training and are licensed to practice.
5. Assess Compatibility
Establishing a strong therapeutic relationship is essential for effective treatment. Chemistry is important! Look for a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable and can connect with on a personal level. Trust your instincts during an initial consultation, and ensure you feel heard and respected. A good rapport is the foundation for trust, which is a critical aspect of mental health care.
6. Accessibility and Logistics
Consider practical factors such as the practitioner’s location, availability, and cost. Determine whether you prefer a virtual option or in-person sessions. Assess the financial aspects and whether or not you wish to find a clinician who accepts your insurance. Inquire about how frequently you will meet and the general length of care if appropriate.
7. Trust the Process
Once you have considered the above, remember that finding the right mental health professional is a matter of trial and error. This includes being proactive with your own care by clarifying when you feel misunderstood or if you think the treatment is not working as you envisioned. It is okay to switch practitioners if you decide you feel the current one is not meeting your needs. At the same time, it is important to realize that caring for your mental health is a process, and making changes takes patience. Your mental health and well-being are worth the effort.
In conclusion, choosing the right mental health clinician is a crucial step toward achieving personal growth, healing, and well-being. Remember, there is no one size fits all approach. By identifying your needs, researching the options, and assessing compatibility, you can make an informed decision that will help to guide you toward a brighter, healthier future. At The Midtown Practice, we offer a free 15-minute consultation in order to understand further what you are experiencing and, through our careful matching process, work to find you an ideal therapist. Once we identify one or two choices, you will have another opportunity to speak to the clinician to ensure you are comfortable. We take great strides to put you in touch with a clinician who has the right background and expertise and is a good match for you in terms of personality and style.
Get Started Today
We’re pleased you are here, and we’re committed to finding the right person to help you with your mental health.
Step 1: Connect
Finding the right person to help can seem challenging, which is why we offer multiple ways to connect with us. You can schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation with our highly trained Clinical Coordinator, Alli Malamut, by either:
- Calling or texting us at: 212-286-8801
- Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By completing the form to the left.
If you do not reach us directly, you can expect to hear back from us the same day or within one business day.
Step 2: Get Matched
In order to find you an ideal fitting clinician or therapist, our Clinical Coordinator will want to learn more about you. Specifically, it would be helpful to hear about your concerns, personal preferences, and any relevant logistical matters (for example, in-person or video sessions? best time or day to meet?) During this call, please feel free to ask us any questions as well!
Please feel free to share with us if you have already identified someone you would like to work with from Our Team page.
Step 3: Check the fit
Connect with the clinician or therapist you are matched with to ask questions, share history, and make sure you feel comfortable about moving forward. If so, book your first session. If it does not feel right, circle back with us.
Step 4: Get started
Schedule time to meet with your new clinician or therapist and work towards living a more fulfilling life!
Over the years, we’ve found our thoughtful matching process is the surest way to find you an ideal clinician or therapist and achieve the best outcome for you.
18 East 48th Street, Suites 1104 and 1202, NYC 10017