Fit: Finding the right psychologist for you or your child
Gathering the courage to seek treatment is monumental. I believe that making this first step and finding the right help can and will change your life for the better. Finding the right psychologist can be daunting, frustrating, and time consuming. There are many providers who may or may not meet your specific needs, whose personality or work style may not be a match with yours, or whose hours don't suit your schedule. During your initial visit, it is normal to expect to feel nervous. The right psychologist will make you feel comfortable, answer all of your questions, should be able to give you information about their background and experience, and will help you to feel hopeful about the hard work you will be able to achieve as a team. When researching and deciding on a psychologist keep these factors in mind:
Do your research. Not all therapists are psychologists and not all psychologists are licensed to provide therapy. Therapists have all different types of backgrounds and might be licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, or even a student being supervised by a licensed professional. Ask any prospective therapist about their credentials, licensing board, and experience with your specific difficulties.
Look for a specialist if necessary. For example, if you or your child suffers from a specific disorder in which there is a "gold-standard" treatment such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, you should seek treatment from someone who specializes in exposure and response prevention (ERP). Similarly, treating children and adolescents is not the same as treating adults. Make sure your provider is specifically trained to work with children, adolescents, or families.
Make the call. Or several. I understand that cold calling a stranger might be incredibly overwhelming. However, hearing your prospective psychologists voice on the phone will allow you to get a feel for how the two of you might get along, how he or she listens, and whether you feel heard. This is the perfect opportunity to get information about the experience he or she has, the therapists theoretical perspective (e.g., cognitive-behavioral, acceptance and commitment, family systems, psychoanalytical...) and to make sure they are providing what you are looking for.
Listen to your gut. The therapeutic relationship is vital for your success. Research shows that one of the most profound agents of change is the relationship a patient has with their therapist. Building rapport can take time, however, if your first instinct is that something might not be right, it's okay to listen to your gut and to keep searching. Your child or teenager should feel comfortable in the presence of their child psychologist and should not have to be forced into therapy if they are not willing to be active agents in treatment.
I would be happy to chat with you over the phone and answer any questions you might have about treatment with me. Call 832.444.4749 for a free phone consult and to schedule you or your child's initial appointment.