6 Tips to Find the Best Therapist for You

by DBW Jenny Brice, MFT, MPH, Philadelphia

It's okay to need help sometimes. In fact, it's good.

And when we need help, we deserve to find it! In our Mental Health Resource Digest, we provide access to directories of 1000’s of therapists, but finding the right counselor can still be hard and sometimes scary. ESPECIALLY if you it's new for you.

To help, we connected with Dear Black Woman Jenny Brice, a Marriage & Family therapist, to hook us up with 6 great tips to find the best therapist for you.

  1. Insurance: Start by reviewing your insurance to see what kind of mental health coverage you have and obtaining a list of therapists on the panel. Look them up on Psychology today to read their profile. If you find a Therapist who’s out of network, find out how much your insurance will reimburse you.

  2. No Insurance? Another Option: If you don’t have insurance check out Open Path Collective, they will work to connect you with competent therapists in your area who accept sliding scale. Many non-profit counseling agencies also offer sliding scale rates. Try looking at university staffed counseling centers who utilize master’s level clinicians to provide services.

  3. Interview Your Therapist: Ask your therapist which models they use, their therapeutic approach and any specializations. Depending on their training, each practitioner engages with the problem from a different angle. For example, a social worker might look at the physical environment first and provide a working diagnosis, while the family therapist might first aim to identify how the problem is maintained by your role in a relational dynamic.

  4. Be Patient (If You Can): Finding the right Therapist can take time. Credentials are important but vibe is everything. Just because your therapist is a POC and woman-identified does not mean you will click. Focus instead on finding a therapist who is culturally competent, aware of their social location/privilege and is unafraid to address social justice issues and their role in your perception of self. You can up straight ask “ What is the ethnic/racial/gender mix of your client population and what has been your experience work with POC”.

  5. Read Self Help Books!: Therapists will often assign readings, called bibliotherapy, which support your mental health wellness goals. The work must continue beyond the 1 hour per week. An old tried and true recommendation based on cognitive behavioral therapy is Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns. Less clinical recommendations include The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer and You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. A quick internet search can provide more results and reviews.

  6. If The Need is Urgent: If you’re having suicidal thoughts and/or have a plan, contact your nearest crisis center, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital immediately. Most therapists don’t provide emergency services or 24/7 support, especially if they’re working independently. If you express suicidal ideation to your therapist they will help you develop a safety plan to follow for moments of crisis.