Finding a Therapist For You!

by Brian Moynihan Thursday, April 24, 2014

Choosing a therapist can be daunting. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.  You are likely already searching the web for ideas and recommendations.  Many therapists have websites, business pages, and other online resources where you can learn basic information about their experience, skills, and approach to therapy.  You may also have sought recommendations from family and friends, your family doctor, clergy, or others whose opinion you trust, and perhaps you have developed a list of therapists to consider.  How then do you take the next step to determine which therapist is your best choice?

Many factors may influence your decision and experience in therapy including the therapist's theoretical orientation/approach; education and training; experience, or lack of, with your particular issues; as well as factors such as therapist age and gender; and practicalities such as location and insurances accepted.  Ultimately most important is whether:

  • the therapist and their approach is the right fit for you and the issues you hope to address;
  • your ability to establish a collaborative, trusting relationship with a particular therapist, and
  • whether you and your therapist share an understanding of how change happens in your life and the role therapy will play in that process. 

How then do you evaluate this goodness of fit with a therapist?  You may already have a sense of this from your initial information gathering – does this therapist sound like someone I'd be comfortable opening up to?  Do their ideas seem to fit my own experiences and beliefs? 

Your next step, to contact a prospective therapist, is the most daunting and anxiety provoking for many of us, yet this is just another step in the information gathering process.  Tell the therapist in a voice mail or email, or in person if you reach them the first time, that you are looking for a therapist and how you found them, either by a personal referral or on HelpPRO or another therapist finder, and that you would like to speak to them or possibly have a brief meeting to learn more about their approach and whether there might be a fit. 

You may wish to “interview” several therapists by phone or via a free in office consultation or “meet and greet”.  Some therapists offer and welcome free consultations while others do not, but you should always feel free to ask. Even if the therapist you call does not offer a free consultation, you can likely get a sense of the therapists's personality and communication style in their response.  If the therapist has a receptionist who handles their calls or schedules appointments, see if you can arrange a time to speak with the therapist directly.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week for more about the interview process.

Brian Moynihan, LCPC, is a therapist working with teens and adults in Bangor, Maine.  For more information and resources, go to http://BrianMoynihanLCPC.weebly.com.

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Learning to Embrace Your Anxiety

by Gillian Bush Psy.D. Sunday, April 6, 2014

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

All too often, we react to our own anxiety as if it were a parasite - something dangerous, something unwanted and definitely something that we want to avoid. However, evolutionarily speaking, anxiety is a healthy, adaptive and important emotion. Anxiety developed out of our species’ need to anticipate dangers in the environment to ensure our survival. If we keep in mind why anxiety exists and alter how we look at our own experience of anxiety, we can transform it from a dangerous and avoided emotion to one that we can embrace and accept in our lives.

Many people interpret their anxiety as if it were a red traffic light. When you notice strong feelings of anxiety, you slam on the breaks and immediately stop traveling in the direction you were traveling in. Sometimes, you even throw your car into reverse and retreat in the opposite direction. However, anxiety is truly the body’s built-in yellow traffic light. The emotional feeling of anxiety and the physical reactions that accompany it are your body’s way of saying “proceed with caution” or “look both ways before continuing.” Yellow stop lights exist to warn of potential dangers and to encourage attention, not to signal imminent threat or to tell you to go in a different direction.

Try to view your anxiety as this yellow light - your body’s way of telling you to pay a little more attention than usual. We tend to feel anxious in situations that matter - when we are on an interview, meeting people, calling a new therapist or in an unfamiliar situation. Our anxiety can also serve as a reminder to ourselves that we care about what is about to happen and, when embraced, can help us be more productive or goal-oriented. It is our avoidance of anxiety and our tendency to shift course when we feel anxiety that leads to long-term problems. Change the way you look at your anxiety, and the way you look at the rest of your life may just change.

Gillian Bush, Psy.D. is a Florida Licensed Psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and eating disorders. Dr. Bush received her Masters degree from Teacher's College, Columbia University in New York, NY and received her Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She completed her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral residency at The Renfrew Center of Coconut Creek, a residential treatment facility for adult and adolescent women diagnosed with severe eating disorders. Currently, Dr. Bush is a private practitioner in Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach, Florida. For more information about Gillian click on her HelpPRO listing and/or go to her website. 

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