It’s simple. Go to sites like the Psychology Today or Psychologist Locator, and type in your ZIP code. You’ll find a list of 20 therapist [per page] from which to choose. The number of pages to sort through will depend upon your zip code. A search of cities with populations approximating 200,000 yielded 15 to 67 pages of therapists. Meaning you might have 1,340 therapists to choose from.
A therapist locator is like match.com for mental health. Finding the right therapist locator can be overwhelming and challenging with several hundred or more to choose from. Most will, in addition to a picture, feature a multi paragraph description of the therapist and their counseling or therapeutic approach. But knowing how a particular therapist defines “connection’ or ‘empathy’ or their favorite intervention modality [like anyone even knows what that means] doesn’t help you.
First - Recognize that your success in therapy is NOT about the therapist. It’s about you, and everything you bring into the room.
Second - It’s about the alliance you and your therapist form with the goal of you improving [fill in the blank here].
“In my early professional years, I was asking the question, How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?”
- Carl R. Rogers
“If we pretend that people don't have autonomy, we can take on a prescriptive expert role: You have to . . . You must . . . Do this, do that. The normal expected outcome is no change, and then we blame people for not changing and "resisting." When what needs to change is a client's behavior or lifestyle, we need their collaboration and expertise.”
- William R. Miller
Rogers and Miller, whose work is foundational to modern therapy, both agree on the undeniable importance of YOU - the individual seeking help. The NEXT greatest contributor to your success is the relationship fit with your therapist. Those two things account for 70% of what you accomplish in therapy. Half of what remains is also about you. The technical approach of the therapist you choose accounts for only 15% of your progress and growth.
You find a good therapist by finding someone who 'feels' like a good fit. The therapist client relationship is like a pair of shoes. If you're not comfortable with the fit you are not going to walk very far with them. Which also means YOU are going to miss out on the growth and transformation you desire. While it's important to do your due diligence in making sure the therapist you are considering is licensed and experienced, don't get too wrapped up in the 15%.
Trust your gut [Neuroception].