5 Ways To Find A Good Therapist (When You're Afraid They're Going To Judge You)

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Self

Therapy is not just for so-called "crazy" people!

Who goes to a counselor for therapy?

According to a study by Psychology Today, almost 60 million people have received mental health treatment in the past two years. The APA reports that 50 percent of Americans believe the stigma related to receiving therapy has decreased. So, basically, a lot of people do!

While it is clear that people are increasingly seeking out mental health treatment for a variety of mental health concerns, many others resist this step even though they believe it would help.


RELATED: What To Expect When You Go To Therapy Or Counseling (A Step-By-Step Guide)


Some are still concerned that it may be a sign of weakness if they seek out help. Some believe that only people who are "crazy" go to counseling, and they are not "crazy." Others are concerned that the counselor will think they are crazy or judge them in some way because of what they are struggling with.

Therapy is treatment designed to help people heal from various issues. Some have a mental disorder that is troublesome, and they need ongoing help throughout their lives in order to manage it and live a normal life. Some have short-term symptoms of a mental disorder brought on by circumstances in their lives that have overpowered their normal coping ability.

Some are just stuck in a situation or relationship or pattern of behavior and need insight and direction to get unstuck.

The majority of us are able to deal with and cope with the things that life throws at us almost all of the time. Having a support system of friends and family who are interested in seeing us succeed in life and having someone we know we can talk to about anything is about all we need for most of life's challenges.

Once in a while, though, we experience just the right circumstance or series of events that our normal way of coping doesn't work and even friends can't help us get past it.

If you need some help but you're afraid or don't know how to find a therapist or counselor, follow these steps: 

1. Start out by doing an online search.

See what Google brings up for you when you enter words such as therapist, counselor, counseling, marriage counseling, psychologist, licensed therapist, and any other term that deals with your concern.

You could try "counseling for..." (insert your need) to see what comes up. This can be a first step in finding someone to help you, so make a list of the counseling practices or therapists who come up on your search.

2. Contact your health insurance company.

Your insurance company will have a list of names of people who are in your general area who have been credentialed by them.

Chances are, they have been sending people to the therapist they name for a while. They may even have a particular list of those to recommend based on your specific need. Don't be afraid to ask the insurance company if there have ever been issues with any of those they recommend.

3. If you are worried that a therapist will think you are crazy, spend some time listening to and consulting with trusted friends.

Has someone you know ever mentioned that they saw a therapist? If so, ask them about it, and find out about their experience.

Did they find the type of help they needed? Did the therapist do anything that caused them to feel like there was some form of judgment or that might have betrayed some thought the therapist had about them? If the answer is yes — then don't go to that therapist. If the answer is no, and they got the help they were looking for, maybe it's a good place for you, too.

Or, at the very least, feel reassured that people who need all sorts of help — for big issues and small — have found what they needed in counseling, and they didn't feel judged.

4. Do some research into the therapist online.

  • Most therapists have on online presence; find it for the people in your area. Go to their website and listen to their video to see if you like them and believe they could help.
  • Read everything they say about themselves and how they approach their work. Is there anything that sounds like they are making judgments about their clients or are otherwise not a good fit for you? If so, move on to the next therapist.
  • Visit every site that comes up with their name on it and see what you can find out. Find any articles they have written and read them to get a feel for the person and their approach.
  • Check to find out if they have a business or Facebook page and check out any reviews.
  • Call to see if you can have a brief chat on the phone. Be prepared that you may not be able to get a brief phone consult. Some therapists offer it, and some are just too busy with their daily workload of clients and insurance forms to find a reasonable time to call back.

5. Make the appointment.

After you have done the work needed to make a decision regarding a therapist to pursue, it is time to call and set up the first appointment. To prepare for your first session, do some (or all) of the following:

  • Make a list of any questions you may have. Some therapists will not want to share much about their personal lives. Ask questions about how they go about their work and what motivates them to be a therapist.
  • Prepare by making some notes or a list. Make some notes about the things you want the therapist to know about you and why you are there and be sure to let them ask the questions they need answered in order to help you.
  • Decide how you'd like to handle confidentiality. The therapist is likely to talk to you regarding how they handle confidentiality, but if not, you should ask about it so that you are comfortable.
  • Write notes when you are in your session, if it is helpful. Take whatever notes you need so that you remember any important points or guidance you receive.
  • Check your gut after the session is over. If there are any red flags that give you questions, bring them up the next time you meet.

Although it's a common concern for people who are new to therapy or counseling, a well-trained and seasoned therapist is not going to think you're crazy.

A good therapist knows that all of us are like we are for good reasons. A good therapist will be curious to learn more about you and the reasons behind certain thoughts or behaviors. The motivation for this curiosity is to help not to cause more hurt, guilt, or shame. 

Depending on the details of your particular story, a good therapist is much more likely to be amazed that you have coped as well as you have given what you have experienced and how little help you have received so far. Therapists are not there to pass judgment because they know the world is full of hurt people who often have not had help to heal their wounds. Further judgment is the last thing they want you to experience.

They know that one of the questions you probably have is, "Am I crazy?" And they already know that the answer is, “No.” 

A good therapist knows that you are hurt, frustrated, confused, angry, or overwhelmed, and at times, you may be all of the above. The therapist knows that there are combinations of factors that have brought you to this state. The therapist wants to help you to begin to have some relief and find peace as soon as possible — not heap more guilt on your plate.

Going to all of the effort of finding a therapist, making an appointment, and working with the insurance company is all very stressful. Entering into an office you have never been in to meet someone you don't know in order to tell them some of your innermost thinking is frightening.

A good therapist knows this and will do everything they can to help you feel at home, safe, and comfortable with the discussions that take place. Chances are strong you will find a caring professional who wants to help you and will work very hard to do no further harm.


RELATED: The Truth About Why Men Are So Afraid To Go To Couples Counseling


Dr. David McFadden is a couple's counselor and relationship coach at DavidAndDebbieMcFadden.com. His marriage advice has appeared in YourTango, Marriage, HuffingtonPost, and Better Life Magazine. To learn more about how to improve your marriage and fall back in love again, please visit David online today.

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