Deciding to start therapy in California can be both exciting and overwhelming. With so many different options, opinions, and recommendations, it can be difficult to know where to begin. That said, like most things in this day and age — your search for the perfect therapist will likely start with a simple search on the internet: Good therapist near me.
But what should you do once you’ve got a list of therapists in your area? How do you know which therapist is right for you, or whether your therapy sessions are “working”?
Here are ten tips to help you find the perfect therapist in California.
1. Get a feel for the fit
Most therapists and therapy practices will offer a consultation, either by phone or in-person, which is an offer you should definitely accept. Initial consultations will allow you to get a feel for your prospective therapist’s communication style, level of understanding, and emotional sensitivity. You won’t always know from the initial consultation if the therapist will be a great fit — but it’s a good place to start. Take note of their tone, their body language, and their ability to actively listen and empathize.
2. Explore their philosophy
There’s a stark difference between viewing humans as sick, broken beings who need to be healed or repaired — and seeing humans as lovable, capable beings, who can be highly adaptable and vulnerable. Good therapists in Fair Oaks, CA are keenly aware of the difference, and will always strive to honor the individual needs and nature of the people they serve, rather than pigeon-hole or label people.
3. Decide what you need — and what you’re willing to give
What goals are you trying to achieve by going to therapy? It’s important to understand what it is that you really need from your therapist, and whether or not they can give it to you. During your consultation or first session, talk to each other about your expectations. Decide whether or not you’re willing to commit to any homework your therapist may ask you to complete.
4. Ask for tools, and use them
Does your therapist give you tools to self-regulate and techniques to practice outside of your sessions, in day-to-day life? A good therapist will try to provide you with everything you need to live in an abundant, healthy, happy way — they will give you homework, or provide techniques and tools for self-regulation outside of your sessions.
5. Ask if your therapist has been to therapy
The focus of great therapy should always be to attend to the client’s needs, rather than the healing or validation of the therapist. If your therapist is dependent on helping you to make them feel good about themselves, it’s a sign they may have unresolved wounds of their own that need to be addressed.
6. Ask questions relevant to your life and circumstances
If you’re dealing with issues around marital status, pregnancy, childbirth, race, culture, or the like — it’s okay to ask your therapist about their personal experiences, in the context of deciding whether or not they are the right fit for you as a therapist. For example, if you’re a Mom with two small children at home, you may feel more comfortable and aligned with a therapist who is also a mother (or parent). Always explain why you’re asking the question, for example: “I’m trying to understand how well my needs align with your experience. May I ask you a personal question?”
7. Observe how deep your therapist is willing to go
In many cases, we repress or deny our deepest beliefs, feelings, and experiences as a way of coping with intense emotional pain. When our defenses are down, these experiences and feelings can be very difficult — even traumatic — to relive. A great therapist understands this — but won’t shy away from helping you to process and release these feelings. If your sessions feel intense, or uncomfortable — it can actually be a wonderful sign.
8. Consider ethics and professionalism
Your therapist should always strive to conduct themselves in a professional, ethical manner. Are they prepared when you arrive? Do they run on time? Do they ask for or willingly accept feedback? Do they acknowledge when they may be wrong? Aside from their level of professionalism, another thing to consider is that your therapist is not there to be your friend. Friendly, yes — but a good therapist will establish clear boundaries for a healthy, constructive working relationship. Your therapist should clearly understand that they’re there to treat you and rarely talk about themselves or their private life unless it’s entirely relevant and for therapeutic benefit.
9. Verify their training
Do your research and ensure that your therapist is professionally trained, licensed, and accredited. Confirm that they meet all the local and state guidelines for therapists in your area. Remember, “life coaches” are a dime a dozen nowadays — but only someone who has completed a Master’s Degree and is licensed, or on their way to becoming licensed, is a psychotherapist.
10. Track your progress
Lastly, perhaps the most obvious indicator of whether you’ve found a good therapist in Fair Oaks, CA is that your therapy is working! Even if things feel as though they’re getting worse before they’re getting better (a common experience at the beginning of therapy), you should still be able to recognize when a good therapist is guiding you forward. If you’re beginning to put pieces of the puzzle together, having flashes of insight and understanding, or feel as though you can understand your thoughts and feel better — it’s a wonderful sign that you’ve found the perfect therapist to facilitate your healing.
Begin Working With a Skilled Therapist in the Sacramento Area:
Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call with one of our therapists
Learn more about our relationship therapy services and individual therapy services
Meet with a caring and compassionate therapist and begin your healing journey.
Services Offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:
Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.