In San Diego, we’re lucky to have so many mental health practitioners. If only everyone in all corners of the globe were as fortunate as we are; choice is certainly a luxury. But having so many choices can also make it a challenge to find a counselor when you need one most. Typically you find yourself searching for a therapist when things aren't going so well, when you really need that extra bit of support. And with so many possibilities, you’re probably wondering— how do I choose!? Where do I start?
Below are a few recommendations for finding a counselor that’s right for you. There are many many qualified and capable therapists here in San Diego, the task is to find someone for YOU. The good news is that with so many options there’s bound to be someone who you can connect with and confide in. It will take some work on your end, but it will be well worth it!
Let's start with the logistics of finding a counselor in San Diego:
- Define your needs. Think about what you need from a therapist. Concretely– someone close to home, work, evening hours, morning hours, takes insurance, doesn't; has experience working with postpartum issues, infertility, anxiety, depression, parenting concerns…
- Look to your friends. When I need an ENT, a dentist, a car mechanic, I ask my friends for suggestions. Likewise, when I'm searching for a therapist for myself I also see if one of my besties has someone to recommend. But sometimes you're dealing with an issue that your friends haven't dealt with, or you're just not comfortable asking around. In that case, move on to my next suggestion.
- Head to the internet. Psychology Today is probably the most popular website with nationwide provider listings along with a smattering of everything for your psychological mind. Mental health providers post their info and you, the consumer can peruse at your leisure. There are a variety of filters you can activate to find someone who fits your search criteria. For example, if finding someone who’s close to your home is important, you can plug in your zip code and narrow down your choices instantly. You can also filter by gender, specialty, language... You get the idea. Another good place to search for a therapist is through specific associations that support the issue you’re struggling with. So if you want someone who’s experienced with infertility, for example, you will probably stumble across Resolve, which is the National Infertility Association. So even a national organization can point you to a local therapist through their provider listings.
- More internet research. So once you have some names, regardless of whether it came from a friend, Psychology Today, or Resolve, now's the time to learn more and review their website. You can read the “About” and Specialty pages, and look over the FAQs to get a feel for the counselor and see if he or she might be a good fit for you.
- Making Contact. Once you have 3 or 4 therapists that you’d like to get to know more, start making calls and sending emails. Many therapists in San Diego offer a free 15 – 20 minute phone consultation. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions and get a sense of whether this person may be able to help you before scheduling that first appointment.
- Meeting your therapist. You might want to schedule a couple of in-person appointments before deciding on a therapist. This is a great opportunity to ask more questions. Remember, you are interviewing this person to see if you want to hire them. Yes, you are hiring your therapist to help you through a difficult time, explore a specific issue, help manage challenging behaviors, etc. Pay attention to how patient they are with the process and your questions. How do you know you'll be able to work with someone? That is such a personal and individual thing– and a lot of it depends on knowing yourself and trusting your gut.
It is widely believed that the therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist is the most important factor in successfully resolving your presenting issue. The therapeutic relationship is the collaborative relationship between client and therapist, entirely focused on the client, to gain understanding of and effectively change the client in a way that supports their overall well-being.
The ability of the therapist to facilitate a strong working therapeutic relationship is everything. Theoretical orientation may be of interest to you, but as far as resolving the issue that brought you to therapy, it’s the counselor's innate abilities that matter most.
Below are some things to consider during your initial phone consultation and throughout the initial sessions of therapy to determine if someone might be a good therapist for you:
- Do you feel the therapist is genuinely engaged with you, focused on your well-being and motivated to help guide you? Does he or she remember to follow up or discuss topics further that you feel require more attention?
- Are you comfortable with the therapist? Are you able to share personal information and express yourself emotionally? Do you feel the conversation is insightful? Do you feel you can trust the therapist? Can you comfortably express your concerns and doubts with the counselor or is there some fear of judgment?
- Do you find the therapist comforting, empathic, and compassionate? Is he or she responsive to your emotional and verbal expressions? Are they cold when working with you?
These are just a few important aspects within the therapeutic process to pay attention to when trying to find a new therapist in San Diego. Hopefully you're feeling ready now to begin your search.
If you’re wondering if I'm a good match for you, call me for a free 20 minute phone consultation.