Know when to seek help
While Kaylee Friedman, a licensed associate counselor in New Jersey who uses mindfulness-based techniques with her clients, believes everyone can benefit from therapy, she notes that a therapeutic relationship may be particularly helpful when your ability to function is curtailed by “feelings of anxiety, lack of motivation, feeling lost or hopeless, social issues, dealing with oppression, relationship struggles, grief, family crisis, unprocessed trauma, etc. If you’re spending at least an hour each day worrying or thinking about these issues and they cause you to feel distracted or to under function in important roles in your life, you’d probably benefit from therapy.”
Know that the first hurdle will be the hardest
“Meeting a therapist is stressful, especially for somebody who’s already struggling,” says Friedman. But, she adds, therapists want to help. “Even if we aren’t the right fit for you, or we don’t have any sliding- scale spots left, or we don’t take your insurance. If you reach out to us, we’re going to do our best to either be the one that helps you or refer you to someone who can. We are trained not to just leave people in the lurch.”
“Ask for a 15-minute phone call before you book,” Fried- man says. Write down your questions in advance (or search “questions to ask therapists” online). “And just know that we are working for you. We’re a team. But at the end of the day, we love when you advocate for yourself and when you ask lots of questions.”
Find your fit
“There are so many unique experiences of marginalized and oppressed groups that even if you find a therapist who you click with, it’s not guaranteed that they’re going to be understanding about your unique struggle or educated about what you’re dealing with,” she says. But search engines like Inclusive Therapists and Therapy Den can make finding a match easier. Therapists can indicate their own identities, along with basic information about their training and specialties.
Listen to yourself
“Just keep checking in with yourself. Is this person answering questions in a way that feels defensive, or do I feel held by this person? Are my questions being answered honestly and thoroughly? Do I feel comfortable right now?” Friedman notes you’ll derive a lot of information from sitting with your own reaction to the person. And, after all, the best therapists help you uncover the wisdom inside you to help you heal.
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